It's a Wellfleet gallery! It's a modern project space! It's Farm!
By: Susan Blood, May 9, 2012
FARM - A contemporary gallery and project space originally founded in Portland, Oregon, now located on Commercial Street, Wellfleet.
There is a little dose of city tucked into that building with the enigmatic “Farm” sign on Wellfleet’s Commercial Street.
Owned by artist and graphic designer Susie Nielsen, stepping foot into Farm feels a little like you've stumbled into a designer's studio – and you have.
“When I came here, I knew I needed a space of my own,” Nielsen says of the project space and gallery. “I got a store front and was originally going to just do my own work there. I kept my doors open so I could meet people.”
She did meet people. Even now, as the season is waking up, people find her and want to talk about projects. Lucky for them, Nielsen is all about projects. Her curating style is non-traditional, showing the materials and the hand of the artist in the work.
“The artists that I pick are all process-oriented,” Nielsen explains. “They don't go to the work for the end result. What happens along the way with the materials and ideas becomes the finished product. That's what I find appealing about art in general. If you go in with preconceived notions, you don't get something different. These artists allow the process to drive what the thing should be.”
Process versus product
A fine example is Graham McNamara, whose solo exhibit “To No End” opens Friday, with an artist reception on Saturday, May 12.
See for yourself...
Graham McNamara: To No End
May 11 - June 5, 2012
Opening reception on May 12, 6-8 PM
15 Commercial Street, Wellfleet
In this show, McNamara deconstructs the idea of romantic European paintings. Starting with abstract drips, he paints the image in fine detail around the abstraction.
Like the other artists shown at Farm, McNamara’s work is about ideas, not just aesthetic quality.
“In Graham's case,” says Nielsen, “he's looking at art history, art in society and our perceptions of reality. He puts all that into his work.”
It may not be what people expect to see when they go gallery hopping in Wellfleet (known as “The Gallery Town”).
Nielsen admits “some people come in and want to walk right out, saying 'I don't know what I'm supposed to see here.' But after a conversation, they get excited and they see different things. I like to show a lot of abstract work so there's more room for the viewer to put what they think into it.”
Warning: ideas are contagious
It's hard to leave the gallery without a whirl of new ideas. Even those of us who aren't designers find it hard to resist the stacks of design books. It's hard to not be inspired by the materials used by the artists, or the way they've put something together.
It's hard to not want to rearrange your own life the minute you leave.
And yes, you can also take the artwork home. It is a gallery, after all. The front room is devoted to work by “farmers” who have had solo exhibits, while a featured artist is shown in the other two rooms of the gallery.
“When I look at the work, I'm not picking work because it's saleable. I choose work I want to show,” Nielsen says. “Sometimes great work doesn't take the shape of something that people want to have over their couch, but it's still important to see.”
What you can't buy is the wealth of ideas that simmer in the space. Farm is where you'll meet new people and find ideas you want to keep in your pocket for later.
You'll meet people who want to talk about projects, and you'll think about projects of your own.
“I think it's a space where people can go and have that conversation. It's nothing I did, it just happened.” Nielsen says. “That's Farm.”