Location/Address: Charlotte, North Carolina
Hours: By appointment. Visit their website for more details.
Founded by: Kilee Price
Operated by: Kilee Price and Brock Oakley Ailes
Opened: Fall 2020
Most Recent Exhibitions: Kelley Anne O’Brien, The Liberation of Terra Superna, March 2022; Brock Oakley Ailes, Dogs of Eden, December 2021; Alexandra Knox, Sweetheart, I Work for a Livin’, November 2021; Brandon Sward, How the West Was Lost, October 2021; Clair Morey, Crying on Command, September 2021; Forrest Simmons, A Lush and Ferocious Wilderness, August 2021
Bryn Evans: A key aspect of SHAG’s mission is providing space and opportunity for artists to exhibit their work. The gallery’s website also mentions an objective of expanding the breadth and awareness of contemporary art in the Charlotte area. Can you share the names of a few Charlotte-based artists, spaces, initiatives, or collectives that are also doing this work? How would you characterize the contemporary art scene in Charlotte?
Kilee Price: Charlotte has a relatively young contemporary art scene with roots embedded in a rich history of craft and civil justice. The art scene is growing at a rapid pace alongside the city’s bursting development, while still holding down a sense of local pride among its creators, despite the city being populated by non-locals. Generally, I would say the works exhibited frequently reflect this pride in traditional mediums and regional styles often expressed through narratives, collaboration, and popular imagery. There is an extreme focus on local distinction throughout the arts community that has been tough to break into, even as a local who left and returned several years ago. I felt it was important to introduce a new voice into this existing dialogue by creating a space for primarily non-local artists to exhibit their work in Charlotte. This isn’t to say that I’m the first or only person to do this. We have larger art institutions like the Bechtler or the Mint Museum that bring in larger or more “blue chip” artists and projects to keep the city up to speed on the national and international contemporary movements. However, the spaces that I’m most interested in come from smaller art communities where passions are independently executed and supported by neighbors near and far. Goodyear Arts has been instrumental in doing this as a nonprofit art space and collective. There are so many talented artists associated with Goodyear who work tirelessly to bring exciting, grassroots curatorial projects to Charlotte, and whose own projects extend into cities across the country and around the world. Blk Mrkt is another organization that uses its local voice to reach a larger audience by supporting Black artists through creative services and pop-up events. I hope that Charlotte will see more initiatives in the future building spaces for dialogue in the broader contemporary sense so that more local artists will be inspired to create and do the same.
BE: How do you see SHAG fleshing out these goals (of exposure, networking, professional growth, facilitating dialogue) throughout the next year?
KP: It’s hard to keep track of my goals for SHAG because I truly have so many. Although we’ve been around for a year or so, we spent the majority of last year building an archive of exhibitions to cement our space as a contemporary DIY initiative. Last year I invited my partner, Brock Oakley Ailes, to become part of SHAG’s core leadership. He’s been a central figure, not only to gallery installations, but also in forming relationships with artists and furthering our shared dialogue and mission as an exhibiting gallery. We curated this year’s programming together to amplify the work of artists who explore spatial connectivity and possess a willingness to experiment with their own curatorial vernacular. In addition to continuing our mission as an exhibiting space for emerging artists, we’re formulating our business plan to eventually provide financial sponsorship for artists under a nonprofit status. It’s a lot of work, and something that neither of us have any previous experience doing, so it’s a bit of a long ride to the 501(c)(3) train station. One of the easier aspects of the journey is increasing our social presence by hosting more receptions and having an active relationship with other grassroots organizations and artists. It’s part of who we are. We’ve talked about doing this by collaborating on artist books, writing reviews, possibly starting a podcast, and eventually taking SHAG to art fairs. Like I said before, we have SO many ideas and things we want to do. We’re taking it all one day at a time to make sure every detail is exactly the way it’s supposed to be.
BE: Kilee, you’re a working artist and a current Collective Member at Goodyear Arts, where you are also a 2019 resident alumni. Tell us about your art practice. How has your relationship with Goodyear contributed to your work as an artist and as SHAG’s creative director?
KP: First, I want to answer by clarifying that I’m not a working artist, I am an artist who works. I don’t think enough people understand that so many artists are working two or more non-art jobs to support their practice. Both Brock and myself balance our schedules at SHAG and our personal studios with our day (and night) jobs, neither of which are in the art field. With that being said, it is incredibly difficult to find time to “be an artist” the way that people envision or even the way I still envision others may work. Right now the majority of my creative energy is used to curate SHAG, which I feel very fulfilled by. My work is often influenced by space, even though I primarily work in forms of painting. I find myself designing a series of paintings that are arranged in a specific fashion before I’ve even created the first one. The works themselves are highly influenced by popular culture online in relation to capitalism’s subconscious impact on the personal psyche. This is mostly displayed by darkly humorous combinations of narrative text and rendered imagery, such as unicorns, Furbies, and Spongebob Squarepants. In the past, these works have taken form as relief sculptures of gesturally drawn facial expressions and beveled photoshop effects. The subtle elements of early digital and meme art are prevalent throughout my sculptural and painted works though stylistic and material choices that bring 2D into the 3D world. Goodyear Arts influenced me to get back into painting after a long hiatus, and has served as a champion of support for new work. It’s important to me to be in a community of artists whose practices are rooted in reality while pushing the contemporary dialogue forward in Charlotte.