Neither rain, sleet, snow, high winds and whiteout conditions could keep people from attending Nip Roger's Social Faceworking art opening at the Lake Placid Center for the Arts. Indeed had the weather been pleasant, the art center would have had to put up a heated outdoor tent in short order or, gasp, turn people away or gotten out the velvet ropes and established a wait line.
The demographics of those attending would have set the hearts of school superintendents, tourism marketers, and economic developers fluttering, in short the vast majority were between 20 and 40. The organization and the marketing of the exhibit represented an ingenious new model for the traditional group show, a main stay of the Art Center and many other exhibition spaces throughout the region.
Instead of a juried show wherein artists fill out entry forms, pay a fee and drop off up to three works of arts for consideration, this exhibit represented local artists that Rogers connected and culled via Facebook aptly described in the tagline; 19 Artists, 170 Connections, 1 Show. Anybody who uses Facebook has many "friends" most of whom do not know each other, much less each other's work. This exhibit made visible those connections to the general public and to the participating artists, and for some, to Nip himself. In so doing, the exhibit both underscored the strengths and limitations of Facebook, and demonstrated a new way of using social media as a means of connecting people as it further underscored the greater value of face to face conversations, perhaps to those who use Facebook the most.
Naj Wikoff/Lake Placid News
Nip Rogers and Carol Vossler at the opening for the Social Faceworking exhibit on Jan. 13 at the Lake Placid Center for the Arts. The exhibit is on display through Feb. 11.
The organization of the exhibit further mirrored the structure of Facebook, as well as Roger's own abilities as he created portraits of each artist, which he displayed both together as a single unit, and to introduce each artist's own panel of work. Fascinating too was the choices each artist made in displaying their own work. Each artist was giving a panel based on a first come first serve basis, and then they had to decide which of their art works to display, and how to arrange them on the panel.
"I sell my paintings individually," said CJ Dates, from the hamlet of Jacksonville. "I am not sure if I want to give a discount if people want to buy several."
Dates uses old VHS cartridges as canvases and had quite a few grouped together on display. "Why not, buy five and get five percent off, 10 percent off if you purchase 10 or more," I said.
"I have been painting VHS cartridges for about a year. They area really nice size for individual sales and lots of people have old ones around they no longer use but I am not sure if I should discount them," he said.
"So what do you think of being a part of this show?" I said.
"I think it is unique and cool. I really like it. I liked that he first connected the artists on line and then together in a gallery setting. I think it would be nice if they could explore a theme next time."
"This exhibit has connected me to a lot of people I didn't know," said Peter Seward who used paint-by-number canvases found in garage sales as a starting point for adding images like a Loch Ness monster swimming through a pond or drones blasting away at terrorist enclaves in the Alps. "I am getting to see work by some people I knew, but not as artists. It is presenting another aspect of them that I was not familiar with, that was fascinating to me."
"I think the variety of work on display is great," said Joyce McLean. "It's wild, a wonderful exhibit, really unusual."
"I went to his first exhibit at the Proctors Art Center in Schenectady," said Jason Leon. "When Nip said he was going to do one up here I was very excited. I think this one is more intimate. I like that so much of the work has a social message."
"I think this is very impressive all this talent that I didn't know we had," said Sara Lock."
"I would prefer if you quote Eli," said Emily McGuire.
"I am here because of Jesse, he is the reason we are here," said Eli Schwartzberg.
"It is a great local event and I like supporting hometown artists," said Jesse Schwartzberg.
"Do you know Nip?" I said.
"Nip who?" said Jesse.
"Nip Rogers, the guy who organized this exhibit," I said.
"No, I do not. I know Sage Bissell. She told me to come. She said it would be great so I came and told Ira to come who brought Emily," said Jesse.
"I am fascinated," said Jim Rogers, father of Nip. "I hope it takes off. I hope the artists get to talk about what they do and why. What fascinates me is the diversity in this community. I like their sense of humor. Some are very skilled. Nip loved doing their portraits."
"I love the variety and that there is such a good age range," said Sandy Bissell.
"A lot of people are saying that this is the most interesting exhibit that they have had here," said Peter Lynch.
"I am honored to be a part of this process," said Carol Vossler. "It fits my whole personality, inclusion, diversity, different age groups. You get to see the essence of each artist, something more than can be replicated in a photo on Facebook. It is going from the virtual to the real."
"I feel awesome because I can't believe the turnout," said Nip. "Trust Adirondackers to come out on a night like this. The process was exactly how I envisioned it would go. I was here for every artist and how they hung their work. They all do it differently. The whole reason behind this was to get to know other artists."
The Social Faceworking exhibit is on display at the Lake Placid Center for the Arts through Feb. 11.
Note: Both this exhibit, and one earlier in the year featuring Tim Fortune's monumental watercolors, pushed the boundaries of the media. Both events generated a large turnout. Both were organized by artists deeply connected to the community who each put in a great deal of forethought and preparation into their exhibitions. I encourage those seeking to enhance the economy and attract younger people to the region to engage these artists and other pacesetters in the arts in the planning process. They have their fingers on a pulse that could bode well for the future.