Address: based in Grand Rapids, MI
(The project is mobile, so location is ever-changing.)
Contact: Zachary Trebellas
Open Hours: Flex Gallery is on view to the public at all hours of the day from January through March each year.
How is the project operated?
It is run by me, the curator.
How long has it been in existence?
Since January of 2016.
What was your motivation?
I am motivated by the idea of bringing art to new, unfamiliar locations. I was inspired in part by the long-running Clutch Gallery in Chicago and also the idea of Vietnam protest armbands.
Number of organizers/responsible persons of the project.
How are programs funded?
Art making costs are handled by the artists, other costs are from my pocket.
Number and average duration of exhibitions/events per year.
I have six artists create armbands per year. I then wear each one on my arm for two weeks, for a total of twelve weeks from January through March. The exhibitions for the project, described below, have lasted one month (2016) and two months (2017).
What kind of events are usually organized?
The project culminated in an art exhibition pairing the artists’ conventional work with their armbands in 2016 (Avenue for the Arts Space) and 2017 (UICA). This year the culminating event is that each 2018 armband will be worn by a local artist at Grand Rapids’ monthly art walk in April.
Do you accept proposals/submissions?
What is your artistic/curatorial approach?
I like to work with artists who work in a variety of media. I set out to choose some artists whose media lends itself more easily to the project (painters, comic artists, fiber artists) and others whose media is more of a challenge (sculptors, photographers, etc.). I place no constraints on the artists, as the armband is
challenging enough to work with due to its size, shape, and the issue of durability.
What’s working? What’s not working?
So far I’ve been amazed again and again by what the artists choose to create. The quality has been exceptional. The mobility of the project has worked really well and created lots of opportunities for engagement. Just this year I’ve chatted with people about the armbands in locations as varied as a CT scan room, a rural Michigan beer festival, and on the street in Paris. Sometimes the armbands are a little unwieldy or delicate to wear, but overall the artists have done a good job making them easy to move around with.
What kind of role do you hope to play in your local art scene or community?
I hope to give local artists a new artistic challenge as well as an unconventional opportunity to show
their work in many locations. I aim to bring contemporary art to a broader set of locations and people with this project.
What idea are you most excited about for the future?
I’m interested in taking this idea of mobility in another direction and offering a tele-residency for artists who want to learn about and engage with a community and work through a proxy to express their work.
Images courtesy of Flex Gallery.