Much like a puzzle or the backstage crew of a theatrical production, the art of hanging a professional art show rests on a few Liberty Center Association for the Arts Gallery Committee members — members who have honed their skills to a fine point.
The Hayden Liberty Center is open again with a new show featuring eight of Sedalia’s powerhouse artists, Douglas Freed, Don Luper, Barney Knight, Alan Weaver, Dustin Mothersbugh, Damon Freed, Paul Allen and Ali Halane.
LCAA Executive Director Diane Burnett said due to the COVID-19 pandemic two shows were canceled, leaving the center’s galleries empty. The eight artists stepped in to create the current exhibit, the “Summer 2020 Invitational Art Show.”
Burnett, Weaver and Knight met with the Democrat this week to discuss the art of hanging a professional art show. Both Knight and Weaver are members of the LCAA Gallery Committee and hang shows for the center and the Daum Museum of Contemporary Art.
Knight said when hanging a show, the gallery committee has to look at how many pieces are in the exhibit and then look at the available space.
“You have to determine how many pieces you can put in without creating that tension of too much or not enough,” Knight explained. “That’s one of the first things you do.”
For this particular group show, it took Knight and Weaver around six to eight hours from start to finish to hang and place the art in two rooms.
“Sometimes in a group show you intermix the work,” Weaver said. “As far as the work on the walls, we left each artist with their own area.
“They are not all intermixed,” he continued. “There’s not a Doug Freed (piece) and then a Paul Allen (piece).”
He added that since he and Knight were the only two artists with ceramic pieces, those were placed on pedestals and intermingled among the wall hangings.
Burnett and Weaver noted when asking an artist to show work there has to be enough time for them to create new work; some shows are booked a year ahead of time. Knight said the LCAA committee puts together six shows a year.
Shows should be “fresh.”
“(Artists) don’t normally have 25 new pieces just sitting around,” Weaver explained. “You always kind of want to show new stuff.
“As a potter, it’s always about the next pot that’s coming out of the kiln,” he continued. “I could care less about what just came out. I want to see what’s going to come out in a week, so when I’m working on a show I want something to be really fresh.”
Knight said they are often busy hanging shows at the Daum, which has been a great learning experience.
“We both learned a lot out there,” Weaver added. “We studied at the feet of the master, Tom Piche’ (director/curator of the Daum).
“You know Tom does interesting things,” he continued. “I’ve watched him put together shows, and sometimes he’ll do thematic stuff. He’s helped me set the show at the (Missouri State) Fair, and sometimes he’ll put all the figurative things on one end and put all the abstract things in another.”
Putting together a show, Burnett noted, is like assembling a puzzle.
“Everything is there, and you have to put the puzzle together,” she added. “The work is there; the walls are there. It all just kind of clicks usually.”
Knight said hanging a show that’s visually stimulating cumulates from a “lifetime of looking at art” and “having an aesthetic about what looks good.”
Both Knight and Weaver said the chemistry for putting together an exhibit also comes from experience and learning to work together as a team.
Knight added there are three concepts to consider when hanging a show — space, flow and lighting. It’s paramount to assess how large the space is for the show and how the people will flow through an exhibit. Lighting, Knight said, “either makes or breaks the show” since the lights can either be too bright or not bright enough.
“It’s kind of like a play,” Knight said of installing art. “You’ve got all these backstage people that are doing all of this preparation work. But you really only see the performers. That’s what you want everybody to see.”
The Liberty Center Association for the Arts, 111 W. Fifth St., is always seeking artists who wish to show their work. Artists may contact Burnett at 660-827-3228. The “Summer 2020 Invitational Art Show” can be viewed at the Hayden Liberty Center from 1 to 5 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday.