Arts » Visual Arts

The Collective: Strength in numbers



You'd be hard pressed to find a group of more diverse or talented artists anywhere in the Midwest. Their output ranges from Susan Brewer's ethereal abstract paintings to Heather Stamenov's painterly snapshots of her fellow twenty-somethings to Lobyn Hamilton's portraits of musicians made using bits of broken LP records.

They call themselves "the Collective," although they have no manifesto and no agenda other than to show their work together, support each other and — just maybe — help to build the contemporary art scene. Their next show, Wet Paint, Heavy Metals and Broken Records, opens April 9 at 5910 N. College Ave. It runs through April 12.

This is the collective's second exhibition. Their first was at Amelia's in Fletcher Place in November 2014. Like the first, this will be a pop-up show in a temporarily vacant space.

The commissar, as it were, of this collective, is one Constance Scopelitis. Like several other members, she has studio space at the Stutz. And like others, she's making career inroads outside the Indianapolis area. For instance, Lobyn Hamilton's work was recently featured on sets for the FOX series Empire.

"We have this frontier, conservative, bible-banging vibe yet some of the most creative, out-of-the-box creative artists, writers, musicians, have come out of Indiana," says Scopelitis. "I just feel like we're in a little spot here and that's why I keep getting pulled back."

The Collective began to coalesce two years ago, when several Stutz residents — including Scopelitis, Susan Brewer, Philip Campbell, and Richard Emery Nickolson — began talking about what Indianapolis was missing.

"We started talking about the absence of an organized or acknowledged contemporary art scene," says Scopelitis. "We've got the Hoosier Salon that just can't figure out how to get into the 21st century...."

And it's become harder for artists to do good work and make a living in a scene defined by First Friday and largely devoid of commercial galleries selling contemporary work by local artists.

"The concept of having an art opening every thirty days I think is torturous," says Scopelitis. "I don't think it's fair to the artist to be swept up in that. Who's creating fresh work every thirty days? It can't be major work. Therefore the artists are promoting the idea of the low price takeaway piece hoping it leads to a major sale later. I think it's a bad trend. Remember the days when a gallery was respectful to an artist, represented you, gave you a year at a minimum [to prepare a major body of work]?"

And so the collective arrived upon a few simple resolutions. Collective members will not show work until they're ready to show. The collective will pop up wherever and whenever a suitable space is available, but only for a limited time. And the core of the collective will invite like-minded artists to join the group.

"Who wants to have bricks and mortar these days? It means finding a permanent space and manning a gallery," says Scopelitis.

"This is something different," says Philip Campbell, whose contribution to the pop-up will be an extension of his "Your Catfish Friend" show at the iMOCA. "It's a group of seasoned professionals who are really serious about what we do. We're not showing because there's anything cohesive about our artwork except the quality of the work and the commitment to the work. It's not being curated except by ourselves. We have enough experience to do that."

The Collective: Wet Paint, Heavy Metals, and Broken Records

When: April 9-10, 5-9 p.m.; April 11-12, 1-5 p.m.

Where: 5910 N. College Ave. (next to Binkley's)

Featuring: new work by David Kleeman, Steve Paddack, Walter Lobyn Hamilton, Autumn Keller, Richard Emery Nickolson, Heather Stamenov, Cagney King, Emily Budd, Philip Campbell, Carla Knopp, Constance Edwards Scopelitis, Susan Brewer


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