Robert Gann has been the associate director of studios.gallery since the fall of 2016. In addition to curating studios.gallery Gann is finishing his degree in art history, criticism and conservation at the University of Missouri, Kansas City. We recently sat down and spoke with Robert about what drew him to curatorial work, what goes into planning a show, and what he aspires to do next in his life.
- Who or what got you interested in art? More specifically what sparked your interested in curatorial work?
I have always had artistic inclinations. Over the years my interest and areas of study have gone from drafting, studio art and finally Art History. When I first started my collegiate pursuits this was the only field of study that held a passion for me. I have always been in gallery settings in one form or another. All these factors eventually brought me to Studios Inc where I was given the chance in the curatorial role to utilize my skills, creativity and education.
- What brought you to Studios Inc?
I was attracted to Studios Inc because it was a non-profit organization. Throughout my life I have always wanted to give back through volunteering and have sought organizations that offer that. I have been acquainted with Studios Inc for a long period of time and was always immensely impressed with the opportunity they offer mid-career Artist. Studios Inc was the perfect place to land for me, it's an extremely creative environment which believes in giving back to the Artist in our community.
- When you finish your degree at the University of Missouri, Kansas City what do you hope to do?
Take a day off. Maybe even treat myself to a weekend off who knows? On professional note it has been a long term goal to combine my insurance background and academia to pursue a career insuring fine art and specie. Professional goals change though so we will see what the future holds.
- When putting together a show, who decides what pieces are in the show? If it is you, how do you go about which pieces will be the best fit for the show?
I make the decisions, but also use the knowledge and skill set of my coworkers if I am second guessing exhibition of a piece. When curating each new show, I look to the different types of works in the collection to see how well they will speak to each other within their juxtaposition once displayed. My goals when I curate the quarterly exhibit is to ensure its cohesive and the pieces are displayed in a manner that maintains the artist integrity of the works
- To bounce off the last the question, what all is involved in curating? Is it just organizing the exhibition or is there more to it? Is there more that you wish curators did?
As the public enters the gallery, they have to walk into an environment that flows and invites their attention to the works. The exhibit requires a cohesiveness and the show should stand out to make an impression. This takes weeks of planning and preparation. Several phases are required. These include conceptualizing the next show, selecting the right pieces, if acquiring a new piece also working with artists to coordinate pick up, removal of the prior show, repairs to the gallery space, meticulous attention to hanging and spacing, ensuring press releases go out, updating online public art forums and on occasion making a last minute change in the exhibition to make the show flow better. To answer the last question I think it would be beneficial for curators around Kansas City to meet and exchange ideas regularly. This would work towards best practices, offer broader inspiration and create closer ties within the Arts community.
- What is the most rewarding part of your job at Studios Inc?
Each show highlights some of the best artist that Kansas City has to offer. I am thrilled to be able to use my creative process to help recognize them.
- Contrary to that, what is the least rewarding part of your job?
Love the Vinyl letter signs but they are definitely not my favorite to put up.
- What has been your favorite show put on at Studios Inc?
The Artist Statement. This allowed studios.gallery to exhibit spectacular pieces but also provided the public insight into what may have been a driving force or influence of the Artist at the time the piece was being created.