(C) 2012 by Metta Anderson – Text and images – All Rights Reserved
After almost five years, I have finally re-opened my art gallery, La Pequeña Galería Dominical. Even though the space is very small, compared to the other places I’ve used, it works very well for the contemporary photography that is on display.
I started the gallery in 2002, when I moved into a very large apartment on a ground floor in an even bigger house in the Candelaria Centro Historico in Bogotá. At the time, I used the two front rooms, with their 15 ft ceilings and approximately 6 ft high windows overlooking the street. The walls were painted in a soft peachy-orange, which drew attention just because of the color. Locally, walls are painted white. Period. Not mine. I used two shades of the orange and the blue-white light of Bogotá coming in the windows created a very inviting glow. I used the pendant that you see in the photo when the gallery was open on Sundays because zoning laws do not permit objects that light up at night or hang over the street or are beyond a certain modest size. I could hang up the pendant from a nail in the outside wall and take it down at the end of the day. I also left a small poster (19″ x 13″) in one of the windows showing gallery hours and related information.
At the time, I specialized in my own photography and art work, changing the exhibitions on a regular basis and getting a lot of visitors. But then my partner and I decided to move the gallery to a more upscale neighborhood, on the belief that economic upscale equaled cultural upscale and a more liberal mindset. We were wrong. We had a gorgeous and very large gallery, and sold nothing, so we closed it after two years.
Just as we closed it, the owners of the house where the first gallery was, and where I actually lived, told me they were selling the house and I had to move out. This proved to be traumatic for me, so I stopped all my painting and photography and locked myself into this apartment, where I wrote two novels and am finishing a third. Good for me.
In February this year, I met a Frenchman who opened a gallery half-a-block from my original one. In fact, he wanted that house precisely for a house and gallery, but ran afoul of the husband of the owner of record. That’s an extremely easy thing to do and I sympathize with the Frenchman. But he bought a really nice house and opened a gallery, so he’s happy. I, on the other hand, was bitten again by the gallery bug. I looked around at spaces available, of places I wanted to be in and how much money I’d have to spend. No surprise–the high traffic areas are way beyond my budget. So I re-trenched.
Et voilà! I have re-opened my gallery on the first floor of my triplex apartment! The entrance hall (front door to stairs) is at least 10 ft long and there’s a decrepit but serviceable stretch of molding high up on two walls. I have a big custom-made armoire on one side, too heavy to move, which blocks the molding above it, but the other wall is fine. It’s a narrow space, but the big windows overlooking the street keep it from being claustrophobic. The walls are off-white.
Currently, I’m offering a selection of black-and-white photos of Bogotá which I have shot over the years. Quite a few of them have become historic documents, since the city has undergone rapid changes in the last ten years. A few are just that split-second of timing that made Henri Cartier-Bresson famous. ALL were taken (and continue to be taken) as fine art photography.
I think I should explain this concept. To me, photography is a medium like painting–two-dimensional, and capable of reflecting the world either with great realism (PRE-Photoshop!) or with large amounts of abstraction (also pre-Photoshop). I like to combine certain storytelling elements with an abstracted image. This has taken years to develop, in part because all the arts evolve as the artist evolves. This is a basic truth among artists, but not among the galleries and other cultural businesses operating these days. Some of my best images are the result of looking at a scene as if it were a painting on canvas–the arrangement of the elements within a flat and confined area. Sometimes I have to crop the image when printing, but the basic components are there when I press the shutter. Trust me–Photoshop can not save what is not there in the first place. With black and white, the “palette” is limited–black, white and gray. But it’s really fascinating what you can do with that.
I do have work in color and I’m glad I’ve learned to print it well with the computer. I scan the negatives and can create some beautiful prints, but at the moment, I need to buy inks and some paper, and I do not have the money. Therefore, there are no color prints available.
I have a good catalogue to show anyone looking for something unique. I can make copies in the standard sizes (8″ x 10″, 11″ x 14″ and also 16″ x 20″ in black and white only) and these are delivered matted and mounted, ready for framing.
What I hope to do later in the year is move the gallery to a larger space and be able to show other photographers, older photographers who have developed an interesting portfolio and would like to show some of their best images. I am also interested in working with ceramic artists, because they have very original visions. Essentially I want to work with older artists and foreign artists because the majority of the galleries in Bogotá push young Colombian males and have created the fantasy that these newly-minted kids are genuine stars, so “BUY NOW!!!” I’m from Michigan. I know the difference between this year’s Cadillac and last year’s, and I know that a five year old Cadillac can get you to your destination just as easily as the new one. When I see art being shilled as if it were a new model car, I’m turned off–to the work, to the artist and to the gallery promoting it. I have nothing against advertising. I’m opposed to lying. What I want for my gallery is to be able to sell something to which the buyer can relate, with which he or she feels comfortable and wants to have in his/her home or office. That may limit my client list somewhat, but what artist wants to sell his/her work to someone who thinks a work of art must either turn a profit for its owner or be thrown out with the trash? Art is not a consumer product.
So, having launched my gallery’s manifesto, I will just say that I’m pleased to have the gallery open again, even though it’s only two days a week. At least it’s open and everyone’s invited to come over and have a look. (Um, if you’re in Bogotá, of course.) Hours are 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., on Saturdays and Sundays. The address is both Calle 15-A #1-A- 26 and Calle 12-D-Bis #1-Bis – 26. Ring Apto. 301. I give both addresses because, if you’re in a taxi and give the driver the new address (Calle 12-D etc.), he’ll get lost. For sure! Calle 15-A is La Candelaria Centro Histórico. Taxi drivers know the neighborhood. You can also get here on TransMilenio. Take a bus marked Las Aguas and get off at that station. Walk back along the Eje Ambiental and follow Carrera 3 south (against the traffic). Calle 15-A/Calle 12-D-Bis has a hardware store on the corner on the left. Go straight up that street, staying on the left. And take a deep breath. It’s a steep climb!
So now that the gallery’s open, I hope to see you here soon!