Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Gallery Perspective: Stephen Kovash

Focusing on promoting area artists, Stephen Kovash opened Istvan Gallery in 2007.  This post starts a series of articles about Oklahoma gallerists and curators about exhibitions they organize.

Kovash is hosting OVAC grant recipient Lori Oden’s exhibition Write me a Photograph opening Friday. He is OVAC’s past-President and volunteers widely around Oklahoma.  This exhibition is part of a new effort for Kovash to work with artists longer before their exhibition opens.  He has committed to publish a small catalog and has worked with Oden over the past year and a half. 
My Secrets Sleep Here, Mixed Media, 2009
Q: Tell me how you normally put together exhibitions:
SK: In preparing to hang a gallery show, my creative involvement with artists is usually limited to attaching a wire to a painting or giving an artist a ride somewhere.

My creative process involves arranging a survey of artwork in a display that like a story has a beginning, an arc and an ending.   I also try to put up a show that will sell so I can keep the doors open.

Q: How did your exhibition with Lori Oden take shape?
SK: Last spring, my friend Lori Oden, an artist specializing in antique photographic processes visited me at the gallery with a concept for her latest body of work.  Her concept was to solicit letters from people across Oklahoma about a topic of their choice and she used those letters as inspiration for her work.

I was immediately captured by the concept and we began discussing logistics.  Lori asked my opinion on both creative and mundane aspects of the show, which she is calling Write Me a Photograph.
Waiting for the Right WordsPlatinum/Palladium print, 4"x5", 2009
Q: How do you think working with Lori through the conceptualization of her exhibition will affect your gallery’s future exhibitions?  
 SK: As a concept, I have been moving in this direction for some time now.  Lori's confidence in me is a huge affirmation, but I'm taking baby steps.  Definitly more studio visits.  Artists are asking me for input more now than ever, so I will probably just see where it goes. 

Q: Talk about how you select artists. Also, what percentage would you say is gut instinct and what percentage logic?  
 SK: I think gut instinct is a combination of experience and logic working in my subconscious. I've made a handful of spectacular mistakes, but that is how I learn. Whether it is work I like, work I think will sell or both, I trust my experience and logical instinct and am able to make fairly quick and accurate decisions about each show. 

Q: Who else will the exhibition include?
SK: I was able to pair Lori with painter and printmaker Kate Rivers.  I had been pestering Kate to produce new monotypes (also a traditional and historical art form) for a feature show.  The pestering was successful and the monotypes include aspects of the written word.  On an artistic roll, I asked other artists to bring in work incorporating the written word. 

Write Me an Art Show opens August 13 at the Istvan Gallery in Oklahoma City.

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