Tiny Park[uds-billboard name=”tinypark”]
Address: 1101 Navasota Street, Suite 2, Austin, TX 78702
Contact Person: Brian Willey or Thao Votang
Open Hours: Saturdays 12pm to 5pm at specific openings and events throughout the week and anytime by appointment
How is the project operated?
We are legally for-profit, but we feel a strong connection with non-profit spaces. We do sell artwork (hopefully we’ll sell lots of it), but much of our programming is not commercially oriented. Readings, performances, and film screenings will be free, and we show plenty of work that is not really salable (video, interactive installation, etc). We are interested in finding ways to blur the line between the non-profit and commercial art worlds, and in finding creative ways to fund projects.
How long has it been in existence?
We started in September of 2011. For nine months we ran the gallery out of our house (the living room and a bedroom were converted to gallery space) and this month are moving into a new dedicated space.
What was your motivation?
We both had a longstanding interest in starting some type of gallery or arts space, and Austin lost a number of galleries and arts organizations in quick succession, so we felt it was a great time to do something. Our overriding motivation is a desire to participate in contemporary creative culture and to help build our local arts community.
Number of organizers/responsible persons of the project.
Two. It is just me (Brian) and my partner (Thao). But I see interns in our near future.
How are programs funded?
To date, we have privately funded it ourselves. My day job (which I’m keeping) basically pays for everything. I’m currently spending what should be my retirement savings.
Who is responsible for the programming?
I do most of the curating, and Thao helps keep an eye out for interesting artists, organizations, and projects. In the new space, we will also work with outside curators and organizations.
Number and average duration of exhibitions/events per year.
We’ll have 8 or 9 month-long exhibitions a year, with other events (readings, performances, film screenings) on a regular basis.
What kind of events are usually organized?
Art exhibitions, film screenings, readings, performances, parties.
How is your programming determined?
Programming is determined by our interests and available resources. We look for artists and projects we think are exciting and relevant. In our new gallery space we’ll be looking to collaborate with others to broaden and diversify our programming.
Do you accept proposals/submissions?
We do accept proposals and submissions. We already have a wish list of artists and collaborators we want to work with but we also want to keep our schedule flexible enough so we can respond to things that suddenly come across our radar. We don’t want to be totally booked three years out, because we know we are going to find new opportunities and want to keep it exciting for ourselves.
What is your curatorial approach?
We try to find projects and artists that excite us personally and that seem culturally relevant in broader terms. We don’t have a narrow focus or limited mission. We are not overly academic, though we want to be very knowledgable and creative in what we do. Some exhibitions are organized around a theme or specific conceptual framework, but often I just see an artist’s work and think it would go particularly well with another artist’s work either visually or conceptually, and that pairing is enough to create a dynamic exhibition.
What’s working? What’s not working?
Well, my lower-mid-level state employee paycheck and retirement needs have their limit, and we are rather ambitious in what we want to do, so we need to find additional funding streams. Not sure what those will be, but this is in the forefront of my mind. So far, most things are working. We’ve been able to work with the artists that we want to work with, the media and community have been very enthusiastic, we’ve kept our expenses relatively low, and we’ve had a lot of fun and met some great people in the process.
What kind of role do you hope to play in your local art scene or community?
We want to bring artists to Austin that wouldn’t be seen here otherwise, and we want to promote the very best artists and performers that are here in Austin. We want to create strong ties to some institutions in other cities and countries so we can promote Austin artists and to have a bigger conversation through these collaborations. We want to play our little part in making Austin a viable city for contemporary art and artists.
What idea are you most excited about for the future?
We had a few years recently in the Austin art community where everything seemed to be failing or leaving, so it is rewarding to be part of a resurgence and upswing in activity. There are some very smart and very dedicated people here, and I believe they will push Austin to become a more significant place for art to be created and experienced. As for Tiny Park specifically, we are working on an international exhibition with an outside curator, so we are really looking forward to making that happen, hopefully later this year.
Images courtesy of Tiny Park.