Undergraduates and recent graduates are doing what few of their peers experience so early in their education and career. As associate gallery managers for the DownStreet Art initiative, they do everything from preparing the space from the ground up to handling, installing and selling of art; taking care of marketing and publicity; engaging visitors; implementing creative thinking strategies; and managing administrative responsibilities.
"If something happens, it's up to me to fix it," said Lauren Shea '12 of Windsor, Conn. (pictured on the right, with an artist's assistant) However, "I really enjoy that I'm my own boss and that I am able to be the spokesperson for my own space at Gallery 107."
Ben Mancino '14 of Troy, N.Y. said his passion for photograph led him to his position at the Marshall Street Space, set to exhibit the work of internationally renowned photographer Virgina Ines Vergara, beginning June 28.
"I hope to open my own gallery someday and I knew that this experience would provide me with the necessary tools to succeed as a gallery manager," Mancino explained. "The best thing about this position is the personal ownership of the gallery space. I enjoy being able to transform the storefront and make it my own."
At the Artery gallery, Shanti Sponder '12 of South Hadley, Mass., said the experience will help her to further her career as an artist as she learns what goes into creating a show.
"The best thing about being an associate gallery manager is the connections we are able to make with our peers and colleagues, the talented artists and the community," Sponder said. On the other hand, "The most challenging part is the unknown, the possibility of things not going smoothly during an installation and not being able to complete the artist's vision exactly as they intended."
According to Christina Stott '14 of Coxsackie, N.Y., DownStreet Art was the reason she decided to attend MCLA. She works in the Jarvis Rockwell Gallery.
"I am extremely interested in the pop-up gallery/DIY guerilla art movements," Stott said. "I think that the DownSteet Art program is incredibly unique, and I am extremely proud to be a part of it."
She likes the hands-on, one-on-one involvement she has with the artists she represents. Although she's had a variety of art-related experience, none has been as exceptional as the opportunity to work with DownStreet Art.
"It takes a lot of hard work and creative inspiration to make galleries look this good," Stott said.
At the PRESS: Letterpress as a Public Art Project gallery, recent graduate Pam Buchanan '12 of North Adams, Mass., is continuing the work she did there last summer and throughout her senior year.
"DownStreet Art is an amazing festival that completely transforms downtown North Adams every summer, and it's exciting to be plugged into this hub of the art scene here. The associate gallery manager program is awesome because I'm getting hands-on experience learning how to operate a gallery," Buchanan said.
"This position will give me a background working in the art field and will teach me how to curate, promote, present and sell art," Mancino said. "Since I plan to open my own photography gallery, it is vital for me to learn the necessary steps to operate a gallery and interact with visitors on a day-to-day basis."
Shea enjoys watching the public experience art. "It doesn't matter if their experience is positive or negative: I find it incredibly fascinating and rewarding just to be a part of it."