Skylab Gallery is a co-operatively run DIY art gallery. Five full-time residents, and one artist-in-residence, live in the space, pay rent, and curate the programming. Proceeds from events go toward traveling performers and/or gallery improvements and programs.
How long has it been in existence?
From all accounts, since 1999. It has been handed down through the ages by different–but connected–friend groups.
What is your motivation?
Skylab’s current motivation is to provide a space for experimental and emergent art that exists outside of a traditional capitalist framework, and inside Columbus, Ohio, where this niche is not filled otherwise.
Number of organizers/responsible persons of the project.
Five: Evan Eisel, Cathleen Eldridge, James Payne, Jack Ramunni, and Alex Ross.
How are programs funded?
Most events, especially those featuring music, are funded through donations from the public. Skylab Gallery’s artist-in-residency program is funded by the Franklin County Neighborhood Arts Grant, through the Ohio Alliance for Arts Education. The gallery is also available for rental, at $200.00 per night. However, general overhead is paid by the the people that live at Skylab.
Who is responsible for the programming?
Programming is curated by the five roommates at Skylab Gallery, though events from the community often go through one of the roommate/curators.
Number and average duration of exhibitions/events per year.
Our art exhibitions range from one-night receptions, to month-long installations with hours by appointment. The performances, screenings, music shows, and readings are one-night only. We also hold dance parties and social events. 50 events a year sounds right.
What kind of events are usually organized?
Art exhibitions, poetry readings, dance parties, film screenings, performance art, lectures, musical performances, fashion shows–whatever seems worthwhile.
How is your programming determined?
There is no one way that our programming is determined, asides to say that it has to seem like a worthwhile event to the person booking it. The curators aren’t being paid, so there is no incentive to do anything they aren’t genuinely interested in.
It varies by curator, both in terms of approach and content. In general, we want to provide a space for events that cannot take place at colleges, bars, museums, or commercial art galleries, though what we do overlaps with all of those types of venues.
What’s working? What’s not working?
The largest impediment to “success” in Columbus, in terms of engendering a cultural scene with vitality, is the transiency of the city’s population–especially those interested in the arts. The turnover is constant, so guaranteeing attendance at events–even high-profile ones, is a gamble. It also means that the social cohesion that organic art scenes depend on to thrive, is difficult to maintain. That issue is so predominant, that it makes answering something like “what works, what doesn’t” about specific aspects of the space hard; you can book Pictureplane and only get 40 people to come, but does that mean it didn’t work?
What kind of role do you hope to play in your local art scene or community?
We hope to provide an independent cultural space that is shared with the community, open to it, and thriving off of it. It’s less private than public, or should be, and should provide an audience for expression that otherwise can not find one.
What idea are you most excited about for the future?
We’re currently renovating the space and getting ready to transfer the reins to a new group – so we’re excited about that.
Using the theory of intersectionality (the idea that various and discrete forms of oppression are interrelated) as a starting point we are currently working in partnership with guest editors to examine privilege (both in and through art) from feminist, class, geographic, queer and black perspectives.