Location: 806 West Hollywood Street, Tampa, FL 33604
Hours: Open by appointment and during show openings
Founded by: Will Douglas and Noelle Mason
Operated by: Will Douglas (curator), Noelle Mason (director), Matthew Drennan Wicks (preparator), and Taylor Finke (manager)
Most recent exhibitions: Dominique Labauvie: Road Runner, Swift as Sword co-curated by Psychic Jacuzzi, Tight as Leather co-curated by Psychic Jacuzzi, John Byrd : Embers of a Dying Fire, FACEBUSTER: work by USF alumni, faculty, and friends at Pilote Studios Philadelphia.
Burnaway: Your current exhibition, Dominique Labauvie: Roadrunner, was in the works for the past year, and delayed because of the pandemic. What has it been like navigating this past year as a gallery based in a small garage space? Have any new ideas for the gallery emerged or has there been a change in approach?
Will Douglas: Our shows were always big social events and for that reason we shut everything down for eight months until it felt like we knew a little more about the science of this virus. We continued showing artists work on social media and revisited past exhibitions. We reopened with a collaborative, open call with Psychic Jacuzzi, which helped us reimagine how things would look between the physical exhibition and a digital format. This has given us more flexibility as a venue but are looking forward to getting back to the social events that openings once were. We firmly believe that art is meant to be viewed/experienced in person and with work like Labauvie’s, it was necessary that the public could engage with it physically. Road Runner was delayed twelve months and opened with minor changes from the original creation. One of the major changes at Parallelogram is being open by appointment; more than ever, people are coming to the exhibitions on their own time, on their own schedule. This provides a much better experience with the art as it allows us to engage in deeper conversations with those coming to see the show than was available at the openings. We are looking forward to our upcoming exhibitions of Iren Tete, Walter Matthews, Marcus DeSieno, McArthur Freeman, Biff Bolen, Greg Perkins, and more.
BA: As artists yourselves, can you reflect on how and why you decided to operate an alternative artist-run space and how has it affected or influenced your own studio practices?
WD: Noelle went to grad school in Chicago where everyone was running their own space out of apartments and other non-traditional venues. Will was working in museums and galleries in Richmond before moving to Tampa. Noelle’s very first solo exhibition was at one of these types of spaces, Alagon Gallery. In many ways we see Parallelogram as a continuation of a culture we were part of elsewhere, a way of giving back or providing a similar opportunity for young artists in our own community here in Tampa.
Just after Noelle bought the Hollywood house I moved into one of the spare bedrooms. The first show we had in the house was in my bedroom. Soon after that we built Parallelogram. In some ways it cemented our relationship and we have been together now as partners for six years, the same amount of time Parallelogram has existed. We both believe that artists should be responsible for creating opportunities for other artists. We also hoped that it would inspire other artists in Tampa to do the same. Our experience running Parallelogram has shaped our respect for opportunities we are given as artists, when we are on the other side of things.
BA: Over the past six years since opening Parallelogram, what have you noticed within the surrounding arts community in Tampa, both in terms of growth as well as reception in the context of the larger art world? It seems as though many artist-run ventures have cropped up and expanded: QUAID gallery, an artist run space that has been open since 2014, while Coco Hunday opened in 2016, and Psychic Jacuzzi—a digital and Florida based Instagram account that allows emerging artists to take over for one week at a time, run by Matthew Drennan Wicks.
WD: Tampa was booming before the pandemic and counter intuitively it has accelerated during the pandemic; it is no surprise that people are moving here, from colder and more expensive places. It is an easy and affordable place to live (at least at the moment). It is great for artists who want to have space and time to make work and it is perpetually interesting because of the diversity of people who have made their lives here. Florida is a weird place. It seems that we are on a precipice with the art scene in Tampa. A lot of credit should go to the non-profit gallery Tempus Projects which has been the center of the contemporary art scene in Tampa for over a decade now. There are several big projects in the works to hopefully bring Tampa to the next level in relation to contemporary art. It is always a bit of an uphill battle in Tampa as the art scene has to compete with amazing beaches, crystal clear spring-rivers, strip clubs, one of the biggest craft brew scenes in the nation, theme parks, two world championship sports ball teams, cigars, Cuban sandwich shops, and the greatest international airport in North America (maybe the world). Parallelogram Gallery always has a show in the garage, come see us when it is comfortable for you. There will be a beer waiting.