Saturday, March 1, 2014

Share with Me Saturdays - Apryl McAnerney Dabble

"Art saves our lives."

I had the pleasure of spending the afternoon with Apryl McAnerney at her home, Slap-N-Tickle Gallery. You can read the companion "Share with Me Saturdays" survey post here. She is the curator (or co-curator) of four galleries in KC:

Slap-N-Tickle: S-N-T is a comfortable space for artists of all kinds, and has become the hub of erotica art in Kansas City. This February marked the 7th Annual Erotica Art Show in the gallery.

Locust Factory: This is a learning space geared toward students and other artists who are new to showing in galleries. Each artist pays a flat fee to show (they keep their sales) and she offers encouragement and advice on hanging, pricing, anything they might need to know.

Main Street Gallery (with Jody Wilkins): Located in Anton's Tap Room, this gallery features art of more "commercial" nature. A little more safe, accessible, perhaps art you can imagine hanging right in your living room.

Art Alley (with Thom Richart): A public art space just down the block from home, Apryl and Thom invite artists to hang any art they want along the alley.

For the most part, Apryl has control over the art that ends up in each space, through accepting submissions and a thoughtful selection process. She wants to curate gallery experiences where the artwork is cohesive and the display has a flow. For today, we hunkered down with our beers and snacks and talked about Slap-N-Tickle. You can click the link for each gallery above for more details.

Photo Credit: Sandy Woodson

It was a great pre-event scene: her regular workspace was set up (I'm usually only there during events!), she was visiting with artists who were stopping by to see the space and drop off their work for next weekend's show. Thom was there resting, playing video games, just enjoying Saturday afternoon. My photographer, Sandy Woodson, was roaming around, getting some shots of the space while we got settled in.

Photo Credit: Sandy Woodson

In this "interview" process, I would start with a question, and then we'd go on tangent upon tangent, and I took really shitty notes, so I'm going to do my best to hit the highlights of our day.

C McG: Where did you get the idea for an Erotica show?
Apryl: It's a really good fit for February. The weather is cold, it's right before Valentine's Day, but what is most important is that I identified a need in the community. So many artists were making this art and had no place to show it. Slap-N-Tickle Gallery is my home, my rules. I have the freedom to hang whatever I want.

As we talked, we wandered around the space and looked at the pieces that were waiting to be hung. We discussed the wide variety of art that is considered "erotica."

Photo Credit: Sandy Woodson
Featured piece by
Jeff Foster (center) and Tyson Schroeder (far left)

We bounced ideas off each other about where we thought the line between "erotica" and "porn" is. We encounter people in our lives that see no difference, that all sexuality expressed through art is "pornographic" and not to be valued. A lot of that comes from religious upbringings, we supposed, and other societal pressures for women to not be outwardly sexual. Apryl further said, "Sometimes, I think people regard Erotica as Porn simply because they're uncomfortable with what is presented, uncomfortable with their own sexuality."

C McG: So, what is the difference between "erotica" and "porn" to you? Is there a difference?
Apryl: "Erotica" involves a wide variety of things and is different for everyone. When it's outwardly sexual, erotica shows enjoyment between consenting adults...joyful participation of the people involved. Anything that looks like someone isn't enjoying themselves is porn to me. You can see in their faces that they aren't into it. Also with erotica, something like the curve of a woman's neck, a belly button, a Georgia O'Keefe painting of a flower, the lovely knot growing in a tree...there can be a personal, underlying suggestion there, instead of a straight up depiction of sex.
C McG: I think it's intention. Erotica is meant to be art and story-telling, but porn is just there as a vehicle to sex.
Sandy: [laughs] I just think porn is shot so poorly.

Photo Credit: Sandy Woodson
We're discussing a piece by Gryphon

When we were done talking about art, we moved back to the table (and snacks) and I switched gears to the artists. I have a passion for learning what makes artists tick, but also about how to make sure we can stay grounded in the reality of the business, too. Just because we create and pour our heart and soul into our work, doesn't mean people just want to throw money at us.

Apryl has spent a lot of time cultivating her artist submission processes and keeps good boundaries with the art she selects and the artists she works with. That has helped her curb a lot of potential issues come event time. In my life, professionalism is key. You turn in applications on time, you show up to hang when the gallery asks you to, and your pieces are READY to hang.

C McG: So what do you do if people just wander in late, like, on the day of the event and want you to hang their stuff?
Apryl: Every piece has a place, like the world's been waiting for it. Even when I've already hung everything, I can always find another piece of wall.

Uh, so she's so much nicer than me when it comes to that stuff, apparently!

Photo Credit: Sandy Woodson

For my last big question, my notes were SO terrible that I had email her the question and get her words again. This is something that's important to me and something she likes to talk about, so it worked out just fine!

See? I listen so intently that I don't write!
Photo Credit: Sandy Woodson

C McG: How do you coach artists who are new to selling their pieces? I get the impression that in the Midwest, we see art as more of a "luxury" item and aren't really willing to pay for art sometimes. How can an artist appeal to that?
Apryl: Pricing your artwork is a very difficult thing because each new work can feel like the Very Best Thing You've Ever Made, and therefore should be priced high, in accordance with the blood, sweat and tears shed in its "birth". This makes perfect sense...until you make the Next piece, and the Next and the Next. We have an emotional attachment to it, as we should, or else we aren't growing, learning and loving our process. However, the market will only bear so much, and other people may not feel that same attachment. The reality is that art is personal to the artist, but a commodity in the market place. If you've never shown your work before, if no one has ever bought your work before, no one has ever written about your work in a serious publication, or unless a museum or well-known arts patron has purchased your work, you can't expect to fetch a super-high price. But you don't have to give it away either! A gallerist has to know their clientele and demographic, and the artist has to decide if they want to sell their work or keep it, store it or submit to a higher market place, get in publications, apply to museum shows, etc. In the meantime, showing anywhere and making twenty dollars still adds to your resume and your bank account [smile]. That said, the Midwest isn't that much different from anywhere else in the world; art is always either a luxury or passion, to buy it as much as to create it. Appealing to any community is to create what they want, in the price frame they can afford, but all communities have diversity if you look closely enough!

Once we finished up our conversations, I asked Apryl if she wanted to sketch with me. At first she said no, but she finally warmed up to the idea.

I discovered, oh, nothing; she's just an amazing pencil artist.

Artwork by Apryl McAnerney
Photo Credit: Sandy Woodson

She hasn't been making art much lately; she's very happy curating galleries and helping other artists show their work. We will, however, get to see her mask project displayed at the Leedy-Voulkos Art Center this June.

During our sketching session, we talked about my artistic journey, too. Our Saturday together really boiled down to our bodies. Body image, how we see ourselves, how others see us, what body parts we're willing to talk about and look at in our art.

Photo Credit: Sandy Woodson

Last but not least, Apryl picked out a Classy hat.

Photo Credit: Sandy Woodson

If you ever need to contact Apryl, and/or are interested in showing at her galleries, contact her through her website . The weather was so crazy for February First Fridays, that she's continuing her Erotica show through March First Fridays (the 7th).

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