Much of this seems quite removed from the art world in Maine, and some people may say, luckily so. But it offers some context for what is happening at Portland's Aucocisco Galleries right now. Owner and director Andres Verzosa is showing 13 three-day two-person shows this season. Verzosa is perfectly aware of the disappearance of hierarchy and authority that I would maintain is not only taking place in the art world, but has already happened in art criticism and publishing. Digital technology and the Internet have spurred an immense growth of creative endeavors. However, for Verzosa there has to be more than an instant hit in order to be successful. "These kinds of projects need a prolonged infusion of energy, otherwise they will not last and will not have much impact on a community, virtual or real," he said during a recent visit. While Verzosa maintains that his baker's dozen is not an attempt to reinvent or critique the gallery system, he is "sick of gatekeepers" and what he sees as mere busy energy around art institutions, even non-profits. His motif, however, is much more personal than that.
These 26 artists have long been parts of his life, in some instances going back decades or even a previous generation. Their statements for the shows express again and again appreciation of Verzosa's support, encouragement, and enterprising energy. By organizing "Double Dozen," Verzosa "wanted to give something back" not just because these are his friends but because he believes in the artistic merit of their work. And in many ways this series represents an homage to his hometown Portland and its vibrant arts community whose growth he has witnessed and fostered in so many ways. Verzosa will actually get to experience the other side of the gallery structure when his own work will be on view at Gorham's Isaac Dyer Galleries (June 9-22).
When "Double Dozen" is over, Verzosa will not go back to the usual. Instead, he "will try to organize the shows smarter and more efficiently." Meaning, artists on his roster will no longer be guaranteed shows every other year, and he plans to support especially those artists who have shown great loyalty to his gallery. It sounds as if he's tightening the reins and re-evaluating whether it is worth his time and effort to work with particular artists.
If this suggests a mid-life crisis, it definitely appears to be a reconsideration of goals and values. Several recent personal losses have made Verzosa more aware of the fragility of life, his own included. "But most importantly, this is about art, life, and relationships," he explains. And in this sense Verzosa's re-evaluated gallery schedule and artists' roster offer another model for consideration. Even if it may sometimes be easy to forget this simple fact in the middle of a high-stakes art world, what is at its center is not money alone but personal relationships and the artists themselves. Their creativity fuels our passion for art, for wanting to live with it. ^
"DOUBLE DOZEN" | through June 29 | at Aucocisco Galleries, 89 Exchange Street, Portland | 207.775.2222 | aucocisco.com
JOSEFINA AUSLENDER + TANYA FLETCHER: May 9-11
JOHANNA MOORE + AMY RAY: May 16-18
LUCINDA BLISS + JOHN JENNISON: May 23-25
BOB DYER + KATHI SMITH: May 30-June 1
NANCY GIBSON NASH + SCOTT NASH: June 6-8
KAROLA BRYANT + SAMUEL MINOT: June 13-15
RALF FEYL + MICHAEL WATERMAN: June 20-22
SARAH BARTLETT + ELIZABETH JABAR: June 27-29