Episode 92: This week ARTSpeak takes a break from its regularly scheduled audio programming! Instead, we present Claire Maxwell’s transcribed interview with Drura Parrish, co-founder of Land of Tomorrow (LOT), a project space in both Lexington and Louisville, Kentucky. Parrish talks about LOT’s beginnings, his fabrication and production business, and some notable exhibitions that have shaped the programming and LOT spaces. The interview is presented in full below.
BURNAWAY: What is your background in art and how did you realize you wanted to run a project space of your own?
Drura Parrish: I studied art history in undergrad and then went on to study architecture. Never once through my studies or career did I think I would run a project space. [It was] pure coincidence that I had extra space and tons of immensely talented friends with nowhere to exhibit.
BA: How did you start Land of Tomorrow and what was the original concept behind the space?
DP: [LOT] was never a concept. I also run a fabrication company. Several years back, Dima Strakovsky [co-founder] said I should start using the excess space in our production space to exhibit art; we did. That later translated to a commitment to be flexible in what we exhibited, and [we] committed to executing even the most physically, economically, and mentally daunting projects. This has now congealed in programming that supports production based projects.
BA: Do you feel the mission or the goals of [LOT] have changed since you first established it?
DP: There have been three distinct periods since we opened: First, there was the super organic “let’s do it for the city” moment. This was a great time where we ran through our list of friends and supported them to the fullest. Second, was the expansion of LOT into Louisville and a sudden desire to do the things that other galleries are “supposed” to do—such things as programming, representation, public relations, sales, etc. I found this period to be awful partially due to the fact that we operate over 30,000 square feet across two cities…two cities, that as much as we love them, are extremely difficult to generate sales in. Now we are moving into our third iteration where we see ourselves as operating less as a gallery or a project space, but more as an infrastructural element producing (fabricating and financing) exhibits with artists in targeted markets. This will see our footprint lessened in Lexington and Louisville, focusing on less exhibitions [locally] but in more places.
BA: What does Land of Tomorrow offer that is unique from other galleries and exhibition spaces in Lexington and Louisville?
DP: There are great galleries in the region. One thing that we have always strived for is to really never say “no” to something that is great. No matter the cost, scale, or content. Some would say this may lack in pre-game criticality, but we really believe in getting something out to be digested so that the artist/designer can gain feedback to move forward.
BA: How are projects or exhibitions decided upon and executed?
DP: There has never been a formal submission process. Now that I think about it, I’m not exactly sure how they were decided upon in the beginning! Now we have a group of curators and artists that identify artists that we should work with.
BA: What are some of the most notable past exhibitions that you feel shaped the space and emulated how you wanted it to function and what you wanted it to offer?
DP: So many… In Lexington, I loved Will Tucker’s first show, Noah Olmstead’s Aliens and Cowboys, and Aurora Child’s This Woman’s Work. All three of them camped out in the space and made magic happen. In Louisville, we had great collaborations with SuttonBeresCuller with Small Moons, Freeman and Lowe’s Pale Hotel and both the Expanded Music Projects. These shows were almost entirely fabricated and produced by our team in conjunction with the artists. This is what has led us to our current shift.
BA: What is currently going on at Land of Tomorrow, and what significant events are coming up?
DP: I always think people are [waiting for] answers to what’s next. Always something in Belgium and China! Seriously though, we are producing exhibitions in Columbus, Los Angeles, London, New York, and Louisville. These will all be solo exhibitions except for one group show.
Drura Parrish’s professional and academic endeavors include architecture, industrial design, urban design, as well as strategy and concept development. He has co-founded a design consulting firm, pre-development services firm, as well as serving as a director for a fabrication and logistic consulting firm. He has published, exhibited, and lectured internationally. Parrish earned a B.A in Psychology and Art History from Depaul University, a Masters in Architecture from Savannah College of Art and Design, and a post professional Masters in Architecture from the Southern California Institute of Architecture. He has taught at the Southern California Institute of Architecture, University of Kentucky, LTH Sweden, and UCLA.
Special thanks to AM1690, The Voice of the Arts, our partners in producing ARTSpeak with BURNAWAY. The radio program broadcasts over the airwaves every Tuesday in two rotations, 8-8:30AM and 6-6:30PM.
BURNAWAY Radio is supported in part by Georgia Council for the Arts through the appropriations of the Georgia General Assembly. Georgia Council for the Arts also receives support from its partner agency, the National Endowment for the Arts.