In the intimate setting of the Primary Project Gallery in Little River, a large group gathered. Bodies spilled from the illuminated interior onto the outer lawn – drinks in one hand and a pseudo laundry ticket in the other. Strangers stood shoulder to shoulder as others settled down on the cool concrete steps.
Dejha Carrington, co-founder of the network of art collectors Commissioner, walked out in front of the crowd. Microphone in hand, she was ready to present the main event of the evening: the official launch of season 2 of Commissioner with a local artist AG
This memory dates back to a time when the words “social” and “distant” were rarely used in the same sentence – and never together as a worn out sentence.
A year has passed since that night in Little River, and Carrington and his team are celebrating the recent conclusion of their sophomore year while simultaneously planning the Commissioner’s most remarkable season to date.
Curator is a membership program that offers art lovers and budding collectors the opportunity to acquire works at a reasonable price. Beyond acquisitions, members are welcomed into a community of like-minded people and benefit from exclusive artistic events throughout the year.
Carrington started the program in 2018 after being asked about the art collection. The mission was clarified, and she asked herself: How to build a community around the art collection knowing that it is a necessity, that it is a need?
She began to think about her own experiences in the art world, including her time as a publicist for Oolite Arts (formerly ArtCenter / South Florida), her travels while working for a Miami Beach PR company. , his current role as vice president of communications for YoungArts, and his love of art and collecting.
“We [as a community] have to think about how we build the capacity to fund artists differently, âCarrington said of his epiphany.
The Commissioner thrives on his members. The quarterly fee of $ 500 is collected by the organization and used to order exclusive works from local artists.
âThe first season was a huge vote of confidence,â Carrington said New times. “It also let us know that people were looking at how they could directly contribute to contribute, support and invest in artists. We found an award that really works as it supports both commissioned works as well. than the majority of our programming and storytelling. ”
The season two lineup included a workshop with a renowned photographer Johanne rahaman, a tour of the gallery and a discussion with gallery owner David Castillo, and a virtual sculpture session with a ceramic artist Kira Tippenhauer.
While most of the season two lineup was conceptualized from the start, the Commissioner’s team had to revisit their strategy in March after the city was shut down by the pandemic.
âIt was shocking at first,â Carrington admits. âThe first thing we thought about was the well-being of our own families, and then of our Commissioners. Then we started to think about what we could do as a community to bring as many new sources of income as possible to local artists. ”
In the end, Carrington and his team opted to use funds that had been dedicated to events for an unforeseen new commissioned piece by the artist. Gavin Perry for current season two members and season one alumni.
âThe ethics that we are building from day one has been put into practice in this time of crisis, and in doing so, it became clear to us that our job was going to be to invest in as many artists as possible,â says -she. .
One misconception Carrington says she first heard about the pandemic was that it was going to be a productive time for artists.
“We know that this is not true, especially since artists already exist on the economic fringes of our society,” she explains. âAs commissioner, we felt that we needed to dismantle some of the myths that were circulating in terms of artist behavior during COVID-19. ”
Through briefings, the Commissioner reminded the audience that artists are people too – people who have to adapt to life during a global pandemic.
âIt is unfair to expect artists to create during this time,â she says.
But despite the restrictive environment, Carrington says she has seen a new trend emerge on the art scene.
âThere is so much going on virtually, and I have seen an increased focus on artistic ecology,â she reports. âPeople are starting to see how the art landscape really is interdependent. Artists are using virtual space to collaborate with other artists, and I see a lot of organizations reaching out and starting to build relationships with artists. ”
In order to reach a larger audience and stay afloat in an increasingly stifling economy, artists are expanding their catalogs and creating more pieces at lower prices. There has also been an increase in online auctions, Carrington says, and artists are selling more merchandise like shirts and stickers.
âI think people who want to support artists are more inclined to buy now, because the traditional control of an intimidating gallery is not there when shopping online,â she adds. “There is a certain level of accessibility that occurs on the Internet.”
For the third season of Commissioner, members can look forward to more online programming.
âWe will continue to think about the tactile, the art, how it feels, and also what socially distant events might look like in a very creative space,â Carrington said. “Not your typical field markers, but how we can work with artists to reimagine what a visual art performance or experience might be like in a safe and socially distant space.”
Commissioner season three will launch in September; visit commissioner.us to join the waiting list.