The Schneider Museum of Art’s latest exhibition, “Celebrating Wild Beauty,” is being showcased online through the web-based virtual art gallery service Artsteps and the Museum’s website.
“‘Celebrating Wild Beauty’ would have opened our May 30 fundraising Gala,” said Scott Malbaurn, director of the Schneider Museum. “Due to COVID-19, we had to cancel the Gala. As it became clear that we would not be able to present the exhibition in-person, like many we pivoted and began working on a virtual gallery and online catalog.”
Malbaurn curated the exhibition, which recognizes the 20th anniversary of the Cascade-Siskiyou National Monument. The monument was created to maintain biodiversity and safeguard endangered species in 2000.
The exhibition highlights artists who have directly worked in the monument or drew inspiration from it and similar wild spaces in the Pacific Northwest – including Isabella Thorndike Church, Grayson Cox, Dot Fisher-Smith, Malia Jensen, Chris Russell, Rick Silva and Mark Tribe. The online gallery launched earlier this month.
“The artists … have a diverse practice and they each have a different sensibility and perspective that I thought would make a unique exhibition,” Malbaurn said.
The exhibition includes paintings, videos, drawings, photographs and an installation. With COVID-19 shutting down the museum, Malbaurn and art preparator Jason Hayes had to shift their plans for showcasing the exhibition. They settled on Artsteps, a web-based application that allows anyone to create a virtual, 3D art gallery. Artists, organizations and enthusiasts can model actual or virtual exhibitions by designing realistic three-dimensional spaces.
“The benefit is that anyone, anywhere, with an internet connection can have a view of the exhibition,” Malbaurn said. “Although it will never be as impressive or important as in-person viewing.”
One piece that is limited by the move to Artstep is Isabella Thorndike Church’s installation, “RECAPTURE.” Photos of the piece can be seen through the Artsteps gallery, but that doesn’t compare to seeing an installation in-person. To that end, Church installed “RECAPTURE” in a storefront at 25 E. Main St., in Ashland, to allow for safe viewing of her work.
Other pieces have thrived in the transition to an online exhibition. Pieces by Mark Tribe, Rick Silva and Malia Jensen are all on HD video. The personalized nature of digital galleries allows viewers to watch a piece start-to-finish, or jump around in the video’s timeline to see specific parts. Malbaurn sees the future of museums and exhibitions being at least somewhat digital.
“Museums definitely prefer to be open,” he said. “During COVID-19, digital exhibitions will allow spaces to stay active and somewhat connected. As COVID-19 passes, museums may continue to use some of these new tools such as Zoom talks or digital curator walk-throughs, which is great for those who cannot travel.”
Story by Blair Selph, SOU Marketing and Communications student writer