Leave it to the inspired artists at Corridor 2122, a Fresno cooperative gallery known for its embrace of intellectually provocative art, to offer some flair when it comes to raising money for needed renovations.
The gallery’s member artists have two ongoing projects:
▪ You can buy a Corridor 2122 T-shirt, wear it to a local arts or cultural event and become part of a “citywide performance piece.”
▪ In a wry commentary on the commercialization and monetization of art, and with a nod toward the artist Banksy’s documentary “Exit Through the Gift Shop,” the gallery transformed itself during December ArtHop into an “ArtShop” featuring art prints, note cards, coffee mugs, stickers and other items. That experience will be repeated for January ArtHop (on Jan. 5), complete with after-holiday discounted merchandise. (Because nothing says capitalism like a good sale.)
Adding to the ArtShop experience are life-size grainy black-and-white photos of the gallery’s members meant to poke fun at the notion of artists as celebrities.
“In his film, Banksy made reference to identity, authenticity, entertainment and even celebrityhood,” says Christopher A. Lopez. “ArtShop is all of these things. The life-size cutouts reference us Corridor members as individuals and as celebrities. We are raw and unedited, yet it places us on a more mainstream level having a sort of Banana Republic advertisement quality.”
Kirtley King, another member artist, says that artists have always had a certain mystique about them, but most throughout history have occupied “intellectual side streets” in academia and in culture, mostly unknown outside their own little circles of influence.
That has changed with the idea of celebrity.
“The large black-and-white images begin to mock the transparency of fame and its lack of meaningful content,” King says, setting up a metaphor. (Artists love metaphors.) “Celebrity is the basic black-and-white image of low resolution on low grade paper when it comes to real content and meaning.”
At the December ArtHop, Corridor T-shirts were for sale. Most of the stock sold, but a few small and medium sizes remain at the gallery (which will be open noon-4 p.m. Friday but closed the rest of the New Year’s weekend, then opening again for ArtHop, 5-8 p.m. Thursday). A better bet for those wanting to buy a shirt is ordering one online ($22.99 plus shipping).
Once you own a shirt, you can wear it at a local event. The idea is that you will become “local art” yourself when you wear your shirt, making a statement that supports the idea of being original and creative in your own community, says member artist Leslie Batty.
There’s also a contest involved. T-shirt wearers are asked to post a photo of themselves to the gallery’s Facebook page with the hashtag #localartfresno. Deadline is 4 p.m. Jan. 22, the last day of ArtShop. A winner (based on originality and creativity) will be selected.
The prize? A $50 gift card – to spend at ArtShop, of course.
For those itching to engage in an intellectual scrape about the irony of using a “gift shop” as a way to raise needed funds while at the same time making an artistic statement about the commodification of art, you certainly have grounds for one. But that’s one of the great things about the artistic vision at Corridor: It keeps you on your toes intellectually.
Besides, even artists have been known to pick up a souvenir or two at a favorite exhibition.
“For me, the creative act/art process can be a sacred act – the ultimate in so called ‘mindfulness,’ ” says member artist Stephen Dent. “To commodify this just seems ridiculous to me, and always has. And yet, I cannot pass through a museum gift shop without buying something!”
ArtShop at Corridor 2122
- Open noon-4 p.m. Friday (closed Saturday and Sunday for New Year’s weekend), 5-8 p.m. Thursday for ArtHop, and then noon-4 p.m. Saturdays-Sundays through Jan. 22.
- 2122 Mono St.