A 17-year-old curator helps teenage artists get exposure
How does a teenage artist get work shown at a gallery in one of the most competitive art scenes in the world? Through Facebook, of course.
Upper Westsider Charlotte Bravin Lee, 17, is the director of Teen Art Gallery, an organization whose mission it is to break down the barriers between the NYC art world and young talent looking to get noticed.
TAG calls for submissions in any medium from teen art programs across the country and from local artists by posting bulletins in NYC public and private schools. For each show, Bravin Lee receives around 800 submissions. From that initial crop she posts a gallery of her selections to Facebook.
“I view them all with respect to technical skill and conceptual thought and narrow it down,” said Bravin Lee. “I make a Facebook album for the 11 members on my team. We generally have two rounds of voting to narrow it down.” The pieces with the most votes on Facebook get featured in a gallery showing.
TAG has a show that starts Wednesday, July 10, at chashama, 303 10th Ave. The show, dubbed “Full Spectrum,” runs until July 19 and will feature 23 artists and four films screened via YouTube. The opening reception is from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m., July 10, and will feature an acoustic performance from New York City’s “The Jacobins.”
TAG was formed in 2010 by NYC teen Audrey Banks. Their first showing was at the New York Open Center in August 2011 and they’ve since been held at Salon 94 and Rogue, among other venues. They’ve also received press from the New York Times and Huffington Post.
Bravin Lee got involved after reading one such article and contacted Banks looking to volunteer. “I attended a meeting with her old group of teens that worked with TAG,” said Bravin Lee. “At the end of the year, when they were all graduating, I took over.” Bravin Lee became the director in August of last year and the first showing under her tenure was at a gallery owned by her parents, Bravinlee productions.
Funding and other expenses associated with producing an art show come from TAG stoop sales and other – less conventional – sources. Teen artist Sophia Calatrava donated the proceeds from one of her shows to TAG and they’ve also raised $10,000 via a Kickstarter initiative.
Part of Bravin Lee’s job is to convince galleries in NYC to host TAG shows, which she said can sometimes be a struggle. “We’re not opposed to paying for space at all, although our budget is not big,” said Bravin Lee. “We generally use our funds for matting or framing, announcement cards, and installation assistance.”
Bravin Lee said she feels that in high school, athletes and actors get the most attention and cultivation, and that she’s interested in having artists, writers and filmmakers a chance to have their voice heard. However, that’s not the only consideration.
“Teen art is certainly not seen by the public as much as it should be,” said Bravin Lee. “But more importantly teens should be supporting teens, seeing each other’s work and reading each other’s writing.”
TAG recently started a YouTube channel to enable young filmmakers to join the fray. Bravin Lee said the turnout at TAG shows is encouraging. “It becomes like a big thing, not just one age group,” she said. “It’s more of a family thing, not just teens.”
Bravin Lee will be a senior in the fall at the Fieldston School and must pass on leadership of TAG upon graduating in 2014. “Next year I’ll still be working with TAG because I’ll still be in high school,” said Bravin Lee. “But after I graduate we’ll have a whole new team of juniors, sophomores and seniors in high school that will carry it on.”
Bravin Lee is currently deciding on whether to major in studio art or creative writing when she moves on to college.
TAG has a show starting next Wednesday, July 10, at chashama, 303 10th Ave. The show, dubbed “Full Spectrum,” runs until July 19 and will feature 23 artists and four films screened via YouTube. The opening reception is on July 10 from 6-8 p.m. and will feature an acoustic performance from New York City’s “The Jacobins.”
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