5 & Under

The Space Gallery’s December exhibition showcases lower-priced local art en masse

Nicholas McNally

When Laura and Matthew Bennett opened The Space Gallery in October 2016, one of their guiding principles was to provide a high quality gallery space in Downtown Jacksonville that would not only encourage the growth of local artists’ careers, but also the growth of locals’ art collections. After an inaugural season of six highly curated, thoughtfully-themed, and invariably successful shows, the Bennetts are hanging their first bonanza, so to speak.

The Space Gallery’s first year exhibitions featured small, conceptually-paired artist rosters, and exhibited their pieces on one latitude and with breathing room, New York gallery-style. Their December show flips their own script, but follows through on their mission to help their patrons start or expand their personal collections: In short, they are going to hang as much artwork as possible, and keep the prices low.

On view through the month of December, 5 & Under will feature copious artworks, hung salon-style, an art-world moniker that refers to the manner in which the French Royal Academy of Painting and Sculpture hung their student artwork to accommodate as many pieces as possible — close together, from floor to ceiling. Sure to be rich in variety, all work will be priced at $500 or less.

“Starting out, this was one of the things we wanted to do here,” says Matthew. “The first year, we focused on how to do ‘this,’ how to do the best shows we could. Encouraging people to collect art is one of the things we want to focus on this year.”

“That’s easier to do under $500,” he adds. The idea goes beyond the concept of affordable buying, though that is an appropriate goal in the retail-heavy month of December, and Laura says they’ve had multiple requests for lower-priced works. It’s also about helping cultivate the local art community. “I don’t like saying no,” Matthew says. “We’ve been pretty selective about the shows we’ve done — trying to keep them to a minimal amount of more established artists with large bodies of work — and we get a lot of requests from people to show here. We’ve wanted to have a much more inclusive show where we can say yes.”

Wyatt Parlette

Clearly the Bennetts listen to their public and their fellow artists, so they sent out a large and open-minded call to artists that have shown at the gallery before, have requested to do so, or that are otherwise known to the couple: Bring us as many appropriately-priced works as you want, and we will hang as many as we can.

“We want to show as many Jacksonville artists as possible while still keeping up the quality of the gallery,” explains Matthew. Once the artworks for a show are in the gallery, Matthew and his co-curator and exhibition designer, artist Wyatt Parlette, begin a fluid curation. With the quantity and dimensions of work for this show unknown beforehand, Matthew says this is admittedly a much larger undertaking than ever before. Laura assures that the mass of work will not compromise the hallmark aesthetics of the gallery. “Matt and Wyatt are really thoughtful when they hang a show,” she says, and Matthew inserts that Parlette has an absolutely uncompromising work ethic.

Read MoreBy Meredith T. Matthews

Author: Arbus

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