With their first Atlanta show, “Alternate | Alternate,” opening tonight during East Atlanta Strut, Derek Faust and Stephanie Marinone took some time out of their busy week leading up to tonight’s opening to answer some of our questions about Doppler Projects and their thoughts on the Atlanta art scene.
“Alternate | Alternate” opens tonight (September 25), from 6-9PM, and is on view from 7AM to 11PM tomorrow, September 26. The pop-up show is located at 537 Gresham Ave. SE in East Atlanta.
What brought you to Atlanta? Did you already have connections?
Derek Faust: I have actually returned to the Atlanta area (after a 7-year stint in Portland, Oregon) to work at Georgia State University and to also attend graduate school. When I had left Atlanta about 10 years ago, I wasn’t connected to the art scene but upon returning here, I quickly found Atlanta had art and artist “hot spots” that I never realized before.
Stephanie Marinone: Our only initial contact here in the arts community, was our friends Jenene Nagy and Josh Smith (who had both worked at GSU and are the curatorial team behind TILT export) were here for a short time before moving out of state. So overall, it was very much like starting over again in an entirely new art community.
What has your experience been like so far?
So far, we’ve felt very welcome in Atlanta’s art scene as artists and as curators. We are currently launching Doppler Projects (formerly Doppler PDX) in Atlanta through which we’ll organize and direct a small curatorial group. So, we’re absolutely motivated and hope to earn the respect and support of the community here. Atlanta seems hungry for contemporary art and more experimental avenues and venues of exhibiting projects, which is the direction we plan to go into.
What were you doing previously?
Before moving to Atlanta, we had both been living and working in Portland. During that time, we both attended Oregon College of Art and Craft. After that, we went on to establish and operate Doppler PDX for a little over two years. Doppler PDX was a brick-and-mortar art gallery in which we could offer the space to encouraged artists, typically in a solo show, to step out of their comfort zone and create work that might explore something more experimental. The feedback we often heard from our exhibiting artists is, by being pushed to break with their typical creative style combined with a deadline for an exhibiting work, it pushed them in ways they hadn’t expected and had a positive effect on how they thought about making their work in the future.
As curators and gallery owners, we found that removing the commercial aspect of art and showing installations and difficult to sell works was very fulfilling to us. We are looking to try a spin on that curatorial mission here in Atlanta. Our first show, “Alternate | Alternate,” has some curatorial experiments in it and was developed through a much more collaborative means by our team, which grew from just the two of us to seven additional dedicated members,including Lauren M. Peterson, John Prince, Brianne Sharpe, Madi Sibley, Tori Tinsley, Joshua Wallman, and Ion Yamazaki.
Where did you study?
DF: Currently, I’m in my thesis year at Georgia State University with a concentration in sculpture (though I tend to work broadly interdisciplinary). I completed my BFA degree at Oregon College of Art and Craft and prior to that completed a couple years of business courses at Kennesaw State before moving west.
SM: I completed my graduate certificate in book arts and printmaking at Oregon College of Art and Craft. Prior to that, I completed by BA in art history at Smith College in Massachusetts.
What’s the premise of your first show and how did you select the artists?
The selection of artists for this show began as the initial curatorial experiment for our group in Doppler Projects. Typically, we select an artist who is working in an unusual or noteworthy vein, then begin talks with them to see where they might be able to push an idea they’ve thought about but hadn’t had a complete plan for or an exhibiting venue yet. This process included a lot of studio visits and conversations for months and cumulated in a solo show.
For our first show in Atlanta, we selected teammates for Doppler Projects and, as a group, discussed artists we had interest in, then we let the threads between those artists’ work lead to the theme of the show. For a third of the selected artists, we had specific pieces in mind that we wanted to show. For the other two-thirds of artists, we went on studio visits to see their work and select pieces that would create the best dialogue with the already selected works. The show’s concept — work that interacts with variations of abstracted reality through visual narrative and content/context — is a prevalent element in all the work selected and a concept that, as curators, we wanted to explore and present to the public.
How did you find the exhibition space?
DF: We knew the East Atlanta Strut was coming up and it seemed like an ideal time to host our first show. We contacted Michelle Rice, this year’s Strut Director, and asked if she had any interest in adding our project to their program. They were very supportive and connected us with the property managers (Paces Properties) of several vacant East Atlanta Village and they gave us permission and access to the building we’re currently using for our show. We had to put in a bit of work to convert the vacate storefront into an exhibition space, but we’re pleased with how even the space the show occupies has an “alternate” element to it, which connects with our show’s theme.
Is your gallery a pop-up or permanent?
DF: This exhibition is a pop-up. However, we’re currently exploring the possibilities of a traveling mobile gallery that would allow us to reach out to more established galleries in Atlanta and basically bring a second gallery to their openings. In Portland, we had “First Thursday,” in which all the galleries (large, small, commercial, experimental) had their openings on the same night. This made it much easier for the public to see more shows than they likely would have otherwise. Atlanta is a larger city with established galleries and art spaces spread at far distances apart. So our thought was, why don’t we go to them and offer the public another viewing experience that they don’t have to travel to. However, we’d also most certainly entertain the idea of another permanent gallery space if we were able to find the right kind of support.
Do you have other shows planned?
DF: We do! Can you sense our excitement about what is to come? Besides exploring the funding and logistical issues of our mobile gallery idea, we are also currently working on an exhibition of collaborations between artists from all the arts (visual, music, written, performance, etc). We’re in the early planning stages of that exhibition, which we plan to launch in February 2016 with a special event that would be followed by an exhibition resulting from the artist collaborations fostered during that event. We’ll have more detail about what we’re specifically planning soon.
What are you “day jobs”?
DF: In addition to my art career, I work for Georgia State University as their Sculpture Studio Manager/Technician. On the side, I do fabrication work for artists when time permits and I also have a passion for woodworking.
SM: I work as the technical services and marketing assistant at Agnes Scott College’s McCain Library,where I get to immerse myself in my second love:books. I feel grateful that I get to both assist students with accessing information through my day job in higher education and I get to help artists connect with opportunities through my work in arts management with Doppler.
What’s is your approach to the Atlanta gallery scene going to be?
As curators, we learned a lot when the economy shrank down several years ago and the financial support for non-commercial arts was nearly non-existent. So we learned to be creative and scrappy. When we moved to Atlanta three years ago, it seemed like several galleries here had had the same creative/scrappy approach, but they had recently closed, leaving some holes in Atlanta for contemporary art. After taking some time to learn about the current art scenes here, we’re ready to jump into the water by experimenting with the exhibition pop-up model for now and determine how we can both best fit into the Atlanta creative community and fulfill our own curatorial mission.