The Tan

[uds-billboard name=”thetan”]

The Tan

Address: 1415 4th St SW Albuquerque, NM 87102
Contact/Email: / Andy Lyman
Open Hours: random or by appointment


How is the project operated?

How long has it been in existence?
One year come August 2012 as The Tan but this location has been a gallery for at least the last eight years (formerly The Normal, formerly The Donkey). It’s located in an historic neighborhood called Barelas, South of Downtown Albuquerque. It has been an Hispanic neighborhood for generations. There is a very strong sense of community and character here. There is also some of the best food in Albuquerque.

What was your motivation?
The previous proprietor (The Normal) was stepping down and offered the space to me. I am continuing the tradition of this space as a gallery, but The Tan is autonomous from the previous iterations. I want this to be a space for the possibility of weirdness. I want to create spaces (literal and figurative) for people to access their own abilities. I am wholly opposed to this notion of waiting around for something “real” to “recognize you.” There are no barriers and nobody behind the curtains here. I have worked in galleries before where the curators just seemed kind of “over it.” The artists (or musicians or whatever) are treated as a nuisance and no one really feels great about anything that’s going on. If that’s the point you’re at (in anything), I think it’s time to get out. I try to treat everyone I work with here with the utmost respect. I remind myself over and over to only put together shows that I know I feel very enthusiastic about. I think if everyone involved is excited it carries over to the show and gives it a real vital energy.

Number of organizers/responsible persons of the project.
Just me, but each show is different and it’s generally a collaboration with the artists. Sometimes I’m just happy to host a great concept.

How are programs funded?
They aren’t.

Who is responsible for the programming?
Myself and the calendar.

Number and average duration of exhibitions/events per year.
We’ll close up this year having had about 14 shows. Next year we will likely have more as it took a couple months to get the place up to speed upon moving in. There is generally a “main” show up for a month-ish, but I like to work in events and happenings here and there whenever available. The location/community isn’t suited to foot-traffic or gallery hours, so my favorite use of the space is for more temporal one-off shows.

What kind of events are usually organized?
Themed group shows, site-specific installations, performances, and idea art.

How is your programming determined?
Willy-nilly to an inner drum.

Do you accept proposals/submissions?
Sí. But the ideas for shows primarily arise organically through conversations with friends and other artists.

What is your artistic/curatorial approach?
Reach out to non-professionals. Find ideas to pitch that resonate personally with people. Seriousness in art is a turn-off for me. There is a wealth of dedicated and talented folks everywhere that only require an opportunity to do something incredible. There is a big difference between non-professional and amateur. I don’t feel we’ve ever put together an amateur show, but I don’t believe this is a place you go either to sell work and climb the ladder. I hope that the space gives the artists we work with a sense that they do have worth and that they can do it on their own. I hope the audience gets this same feeling–that “legitimacy” is a sham, and that we can create visceral, lasting, and relevant experiences through our own efforts. We just have to stand up to face the tendency to do nothing.

What’s working? What’s not working?
I mark this first year as a big success. There have been shows where I would’ve liked to have had a budget, and having no funding or donation structure has been obstructive to that end. I hate to fundraise but I would like to find some ways to make some of the bigger and wilder shows more possible. I feel the stakes are very low but the potentiality is incredibly high with a space like this.

What kind of role do you hope to play in your local art scene or community?
I hope The Tan is a place that people can think differently about. I hope that people are never bored by something we put on here. I hope that the existence of this space changes what people think might be possible with their own art and in this town. I see this as a pretty simple operation: I want to be working on giving us all the chance to have different nights, different thoughts, and different experiences. There is no perfect art in my opinion, just the slow eating away at the day-to-day. You have enough different nights (or days or thoughts) and one day you look back and your life is different. That may be some lofty goal disguised as a humble pitch but I just don’t think it’s terribly complicated. I think art, individually, is unimportant but I think the energy it can create, and the way it has of making us see our lives differently and perhaps more critically, is absolutely critical. I feel fine if what people are ultimately getting is just a couple hours to hang out with their friends but I do think that it makes a subtle difference in how people perceive what may be possible with themselves.

What idea are you most excited about for the future?
I am excited about organizing some more rambunctious shows in the near future. Art pranks, subversion, and opposition are huge motivators for me. There are some more or less clandestine operations I/we are planning to take with the space and in collaboration in the near future that I am very excited about. I am also excited about taking things off the walls and interacting more with our daily lives. These are tougher shows to pull off because you are asking more from the audiences but it’s really what I would like to continue to work toward. I am also very excited about my neighbors, The Small Engine Gallery, who have been putting on some fantastic shows themselves. We have a very strong symbiosis happening down in this neighborhood and I’m excited to see that continue to grow as the future turns.

Images courtesy of The Tan.

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