Lease Agreement is a collaborative curatorial project by artists Adam Farcus and Allison Yasukawa. Set in the front rooms of the couple’s rental house in Ednor Gardens, Lease Agreement continues in the tradition of apartment gallery exhibition spaces by exhibiting conceptually rigorous, engaging work within the context of a home. After a few emails back and forth, Adam and Allison agreed to an interview with Bmoreart to discuss their current project and plans for Lease Agreements future exhibits.
Bmoreart (Cara Ober): How long have you lived in Baltimore? What is your reaction to the visual arts community here?
Adam & Allison: We moved to Baltimore from Chicago in July 2012. In the eight months we’ve been here, both of us have responded to the potential for a strong and critical artist-run community to flourish. We are excited to be a part of the growing number of reasons for art-minded people to stick around Baltimore and to contribute to the development of this community.
Bmoreart: What made you want to open an art space in your home? What are the pros and cons of exhibiting work in your house vs. an outside gallery or space?
A&A: Running an art space together is something that we have always wanted to do but have never had the space to execute. The decision to house the space where we live was partly due to our practical situation—we have the room here to do it—and partly due to our curatorial goals at large. We approach curating as a dialogical creative act, and, as such, the main advantage of our space is that we are able to engage in and promote a curatorial project that is as much about interaction and collaboration with artists as it is about exhibiting their work. By locating the exhibition space in a living room instead of a white cube, we are hoping, in part, to dislodge viewership from the art market. Sales are not the point of our space. Instead we are focused on providing an intimate viewing experience in an effort to facilitate an active critical conversation in the community.
In terms of cons, something we are still trying to figure out is how to make our space more accessible. Attendance can be tricky because our neighborhood isn’t near other art exhibition venues (although the BMA is down the road), and also because we aren’t able to maintain standard open hours due to our other commitments. We know that a ‘by appointment only’ policy can tend to discourage viewers; however, we very much want to encourage people to contact us at [email protected] to arrange a time to see the exhibitions.
Bmoreart: Are there other art exhibition spaces, based in houses, that you admire? (Several here in Baltimore come to mind, but Spare Room, which closed a few years ago, seems most similar from what i can tell and Szechuan Best, a curatorial team who created shows in their apartments, also Guest Spot…) Is there a tradition of this type of exhibiting that you have followed or researched? If so, please discuss.
A&A: Our curatorial project is influenced by the prevalence of alternative spaces in Chicago. A few of these spaces (some of which are no longer operational) include The Suburban; 65 Grand; 6018North; He Said, She Said; New Capital; Happy Collaborationists; ACRE Projects, Roxaboxen, and Second Bedroom Project Space / Sofa King. The artists and curators who run these spaces (often as labors of love) are a generative force in the city’s art community. Although less prevalent here, we have seen similar projects in spaces like Guest Spot and The Bed Room.
Bmoreart: This is your second exhibit. What and when was the first? How do you select your artists for exhibit? Call you tell me a little bit about each exhibit? Also, what are your plans for a next show?
A&A: Our first exhibit was a group show entitled Warm. For Warm we selected work by eight artists to create an exhibition that both introduced our goal of exhibiting conceptually focused artworks and also served as a house and gallery “warming.” Our current exhibition, Essays in Navigation: Baltimore by Jason Judd, explores the idea of existential wanderlust through works that mine amateur photography and wilderness navigation. Our next exhibition, opening March 2, features the work of New York artist Jennifer Gustavson, and in April we will host a solo exhibition by Sayward Schoonmaker. For future exhibitions, we accept proposals through our website on an ongoing basis.
Bmoreart: Adam, you are a curator at Hood College and your wife is a professor at MICA. How does running a home-based gallery enrich or compete with your professional lives?
A&A: Lease Agreement is just one of the many things that we both juggle. It doesn’t compete with but adds to the rewards of our professional lives. Neither of us would work on this project if it wasn’t critically challenging and part of our creative practices.
Bmoreart: I am assuming you are both visual artists yourselves. What kind of work do you make and how does your studio practice work with a curatorial one?
A&A: We met in the MFA program at the University of Illinois at Chicago. While we don’t have a collaborative studio practice, this shared educational background has meant that we have a very similar approach to making in that we both work from concept to object. That is, ideas dictate the materials and forms that each of us use. Making, curating, and teaching are each parts of our overall goal of creative practice: to ask people to critically consider the world around them.
Allison: The themes that drive my work have to do with the ways in which identities are performed and interpolated. I consider the physicality of these performances (both by bodies and by objects) and focus on the points of misinterpretation that influence their reception. I’m currently exploring different kinds of hustles that people engage as attempts to subvert normative power structures.
Adam: Because of my desire to work directly with signs and not representations, I often find form for my concepts in appropriation-based sculpture. Although, I also create drawings, poems, photographs, videos, actions, performances, and interventions. I focus my content on death, fear, superstition, and joy and find voice for these ideas in subject matter such as health care, climate change, talisman, and cats.
For more information about Lease Agreement go to their blog at http://leaseagreementbaltimore.blogspot.com.
To submit your work – exhibition proposals, portfolios, and websites are reviewed on a rolling basis- contact Adam and Allison at [email protected]
Lease Agreement’s next show, Jennifer Gustavson’s One Day This Will All Be Yours opens with a reception on Saturday, March 2, 6:00pm – 9:00pm.
3718 Ellerslie Ave.
Baltimore, MD 21218