1-800 Help G-CADD Buy a New Ruler
Interview by Marina May and laura schilli
In advance of the auction/party/exhibition G-CASH, happening this Friday, we interviewed the woman who wears all the hats — Marianne Laury.
She is technically the Curator and Director of Programs for Granite City Art and Design District, but she’s the linchpin that holds the project together… in addition to being a practicing artist and all around bad ass. Name an aspect of running a space and she does it, does it well, and does it on the low. We were so impressed with the way in which she communicated her goals for the project, that we felt like everyone else should hear them straight from her.
Generally, Silver Space has a… distaste… for the question and answer format, but this interview was quite literally too good to touch. We wanted to highlight exactly why G-CADD is such an incredible project, what it is they do for the greater St. Louis community, and why you should come out this Friday to support both their organization and the artists that will be exhibiting. We felt that her words best conveyed that message.
Keep reading to learn more about Marianne, stretching a dollar, Juggalos, Pam Anderson, Keystone Ice, and the ways in which this show pushes back against the inequities of big budget auctions.
The opening is this Friday, November 30th at Beverly Redux from 7-11. The exhibition and auction will continue the following day, December 1, and will close around 6 pm that evening.
Marina May: You run Granite City Art and Design District. How did you get into that and can you describe what G-CADD is?
Marianne Laury: I used to run a project called BANK Projects, over on Cherokee Street a couple years ago. Fort Gondo was down the street and I was introduced through running the BANK Projects. After both projects had closed, I was approached by the owner of Fort Gondo, who was like “Hey, we want somebody to run the space out here, would you be down to do it?” Both projects were pretty similar. BANK was really DIY — we ran on pretty much zero funds.
So G-CADD is an artist run space. We try to provide a platform for artists, primarily in the Midwest, to be able to do a project that they might not be able to do elsewhere.
MM: Right, and the scale of the complex is so amazing. How did it come about as a space?
ML: The owner, who spear headed Fort Gondo and is now the owner of G-CADD, was on Cherokee Street probably before the majority of spaces down there, so he was offered the opportunity. The city basically approached him and asked “Can you make Granite City like Cherokee Street?” and he was like “We can do something out here.” I think the city was trying to revitalize itself and he just had a lot of experience doing that.
MM: What’s your role with G-CADD? What do you do on a daily basis?
ML: My title, technically, is Curator and Director of Programs. I feel like… I don’t know… that title can go by the wayside because I do a whole bunch of other things — like renovation. We have a whole new store front that we’ve been working on, I think it’s obviously a bunch of admin work, really just anything it takes to run a gallery.
I’ve kind of had my fingers dipped in all that stuff. The majority of my time is spent communicating with artists, which is awesome, because I feel like I’ve learned a lot through them. It’s really complex and it’s also really frustrating.
MM: What are some things that have frustrated you?
ML: We have no money, which I’m totally cool with, but I think there’s a really big guilt factor in running a space that has no funding for people. We obviously want to have a lot of artists from the St. Louis area, but we also try to incorporate artists from all over the place.
Whenever I approach them I say, “You know we have this space and you can do whatever you want… but we don’t have any money really… but you can come crash on my couch and get drunk for a week and not remember any of it.”
MM: That’s a good incentive!
ML: I just feel guilty because a lot of times people are doing it on their own dime, so we try to make it worth their while.
MM: What is G-CASH… who’s showing? Details!
ML: We want to make all of the artists who have shown at G-CADD — or will show in the future — we want them to know that they’re never gonna get out of our grasp. That this space is theirs forever, and we want to maintain communication with them, and that our doors are always open them.
G-CASH is a way to not only get all these artists together again, but also provide a space for them to exhibit and sell their work. A lot of spaces do auctions and fundraisers to sell work, but we kind of wanted to stray away from that. You know, the typical thing is the 50/50 split, and I personally think that’s a little unfair. We’re a DIY space, we can stretch a dollar to last for days.
The idea of it was to reach out to these artists and first off, show our gratitude like “Hey this is gonna be a show, it’s gonna be a really fun time, but it’s also an opportunity to make some money off your work.” In the past when we’ve had exhibitions, we don’t really sell anything, so we're having a show that’s dedicated to selling something…
We told the artists you can pick the percentage of what you want to donate to G-CADD.
MM: That’s so dope.
ML: Yeah, working in a commercial space, once you have unlimited funds you just start to blow it on shit you don’t need. So to us, a hundred bucks donation… we generally maybe spend $200 on each exhibition, if that.
MM: ARE YOU KIDDING ME?! WAIT NO!
ML: We like don’t spend money… we definitely… recycle.
MM: You make an exhibition go for $200… So what’s the goal for G-CASH?
ML: That’s a good question. Josh and I (my husband) keep going back and forth with it. There is a really big St. Louis, like, rich community I guess, but those aren’t necessarily the people that come out to Granite City. I don’t even care if we don’t make any money. The main goal is to put on a really good show. It’s gonna be really interesting because basically the only thing that the people showing have in common is that they’re St. Louis artists and they’ve shown at G-CADD. I think having a really cool show that’s jam packed with awesome art is the primary goal. The second goal is to have these artists sell their work so they can make a little bit of money. I don’t care if we make that much money.
LS: Are there going to be any special things that collectors, artists, art enthusiasts should look out for? Refreshments? What to expect?
ML: Yeah, it’s gonna be a party! We’re gonna have drinks and stuff. We might have a G-CADD cocktail, which I don’t know what that’ll be… probably Keystone Ice or something.
MM: With a coozie?
ML: Yeah, Keystone Ice with a coozie… a little bit of soil. So we’ll have that DJ Crim Dolla Cray will be DJing, because I really want her to be the house DJ for G-CADD… because she’s fucking awesome. What else? There’s just gonna be loads of work. I’m a little worried it won’t all fit in there.
MM: Oh please, you make it work.
ML: There’s 33 artists and I told each of them that they could bring two pieces and some people brought like eight pieces.
MM: audibly gasps
ML: I’m a little bit worried about this show. I’m just gonna be clenching the whole time because I want everything in there, and I know I can’t bid on anything.
MM: I’m gonna bid on some stuff.
ML: There’s gonna be some cool ass stuff in there.
MM: I mean you have everyone. You have a roster, a clique.
ML: It’s an all star team.
LS: Can you remind me, more specifically, of what the proceeds of G-CASH will support?
ML: Yeah, the money that will be coming from G-CASH will be going towards bringing artists from outside St. Louis — whether it be throwing them a little gas money, or some money for an Air BnB. We’re gonna try to up our equipment game a little bit. We have a couple TV’s that are pretty shitty. We have a projector that’s like the first projector ever made probably… it’s really bad. We’d like to get more equipment so artists don’t have to use their own. Materials… we have definitely been using the same ruler for all the years.
MM: So you would like one new ruler?
ML: We would like one new ruler and a can of paint.
MM: You’ve had some incredible shows, like BBQLA, I feel like G-CADD specializes in expansive shows like that, but this one featured people from… you know… not here. How did that come about?
ML: It was kind of a nice happenstance type thing. Part of my goal for this year — and also moving into 2019 — is to do more collaborative projects with like-minded spaces around the US. BBQLA approached us about this and they were trying to do a traveling show that would pick up artists as they went along. It was really nice working with them. I’ve been following them for quite some time and they do a lot of projects that I aspire to. It was really just a blessing for them to come.
MM: Other than collaborating with other like minded spaces and institutions, what are your goals for G-CADD, for — I don’t know — arbitrary number, the next three years?
ML: Obviously funding is a really big thing, which sucks because I never want that to be the forefront of a project. But I feel like we are going to have to get a bit more funding if we are going to achieve our goals. We’ve been doing these little projects here and there and we’re working on one now with a space in Kansas City called “Open House”. They’re amazing…
The project is called First Date and we chose 10 artists that have shown at G-CADD and are basically St. Louis artists and they chose 10 Kansas City artists and we linked up one artist from each city up to do a project.
MM: That’s so cool!!!!!!
ML: It’s like a blind date. Our goal was just to show that collaborations can exist anywhere, even if you’re a painter and you’re isolated in your own studio, you can expand to new mediums. One of goals for next year is to have artists run the space a bit more, rather than just G-CADD staff. Gavin Kroeber is going to do a project, which is definitely veering away from the shows we typically have there. He’s focusing more on landscape, which is something that G-CADD has, but we don’t really play around with in our shows. It’ll be a nice merging of what the essence of G-CADD is.
MM: I think the first show I ended up going to was Exhibition #17 with the truck smash, and I felt like it incorporated pretty much the entire space of G-CADD. Like the street, the gardens…
ML: The performative element is something we want to incorporate. I think that Standard gallery/Flagpole has been doing that with their ceremonies. Steph Zimmerman just did an audio piece outside. Doing performances that unify all the spaces is something we want to keep doing for next year.
LS: Did you mention when G-CADD opened?
ML: I think it started sometime in 2015, but I didn’t jump on until October of 2016. We’ve expanded quite a bit, I think in 2015 there were two-ish functioning galleries but we’re slowly but surely spreading out. Our long term goal would make a street that you wouldn’t have to leave.
MM: Some background… How did you get into doing what you’re doing? Where’d you go to college? Where are you from?
ML: I went to Kansas City Art Institute for my undergrad in sculpture then after I graduated, I went to Wash U for my masters. I brought a couple people from KCAI to come move to STL with me and we were looking at alternative spaces to live. The people I came with were all talking about running a space or having a live-work situation. And that’s when came across that BANK building on Cherokee. It just kind of happened naturally — us moving in, renovating the space, and running it as our own personal studio and as a gallery as well.
It’s been really fun getting into the curatorial thing. I was a studio artist and I don’t feel like I’m making as much stuff as I’d like to now. But after graduating you have this post-grad shock like “Oh shit, I don’t have these amazing facilities and these faculty to report to, there’s nobody to give me a check mark anymore.” I think that doing curatorial stuff is like an art practice. It’s a way to continue to do research and stay on top of what’s happening in contemporary art. Whenever I meet other artists I am inspired to maybe eventually incorporate that into something that I make.
MM: What artists or what types of art or themes are you drawn to? Do you think that affects the programming at G-CADD?
ML: Whenever I’m researching artists, I’ll look at MFA programs in the Midwest, like SAIC has a lot of good work coming out of it. Wash U has a lot of great work coming out of there. I gravitate towards work that seems like eye candy to me — colorful stuff — something that’s visually good looking. That’s always like the forefront, then I’ll start researching the meaning behind it.
MM: How do you decide who you’re going to put together? Is it mainly just timing?
ML: It’s partially timing, but I think you also start to find similarities between each person’s work. You want to have a nice flow from gallery to gallery. It might not be necessarily examining the same thing but you’ll be able to draw connections and formulate a dialogue.
MM: Okay wait, I want to know what your favorite exhibition is that you’ve worked on, and the most challenging exhibition that you’ve worked on?
ML: Ooooh… I think probably HeatWave would answer both of those questions. That one was a bit more curatorial heavy. Typically our shows are more solo exhibitions. The artists have their ideas of what they want to do with the space, and I’m just basically of a rubber ball that they can bounce ideas off of. But HeatWave was an attempt to take a piece from each of these artists and actually make a whole show out of it. Which was fun.
HeatWave was meant to be a really summery show and kind of lax and nihilistic and “Spring Break” type of thing. So it was really cool — researching artists that were playing around with like motorcycle parts, and bongs — that type of thing.
MM: Who was in that show?
ML: Ryan Travis Christian, who’s awesome. He does super intense, really detailed, graphic drawings. Harley Lafarrah Eaves. Madeline Gallucci, she’s amazing. She and I went to school together in Kansas City. She just moved to Chicago… but she does these really vibrant giant tapestry pieces.
MM: I think I’ve seen…
ML: She’s awesome. I really want to do more work with her. She did this project at a hotel in Kansas City. She did a thing with chocolate, so they made chocolate art for her.
MM: Omg, so cute.
ML: Who else was in that? Olivia Gibb. Brittany Boynton. She did some paintings of Pam Anderson, that were really funny. God there’s a couple more people… it was an all star group for sure.
MM: Okay so this is kind of random, I was told that your MFA thesis included the Insane Clown Posse… can you talk a little bit about that?
ML: Absolutely! There are all these different groups that fall under fandom culture. Like Juggalos, I’m really into Parrot Heads, even Spring Break people. You can just look at them and know everything about them. I think that’s absolutely amazing because there’s no shame, there’s no embarrassment. There’s a sense of community with them. Also weirdly inviting, which is awesome. They’re just out to have a good time.
I feel like they’re people that probably had a really hard time growing up and they met somebody who doesn’t care what they look like or what their background is, and are there with open arms. And I’m sure each group has their own violent or negative connotations, but that’s the same with anything. Even at the shows, they’re just so considerate. Like “We’re gonna buy sugar free Faygo so no one goes home sticky.”
MM: That’s so kind of them! What was your thesis overall?
ML: I’m really inspired by music, and really repetitive lyrics and whatnot. I find that a lot of those lyrics are in Juggalo music, or in Jimmy Buffet’s music.
MM: Lil Pump.
ML: But yeah it’s really accessible music for people. For my work, I didn’t want people to have to think too deeply about it. It’s like a one liner. There’s something moving, you laugh. I’ve kind of strayed away from that as of late. But it was illustrative to the music that I was listening to at that time.
MM: How do you feel about being an organizer or someone that runs a space in St. Louis?
ML: So it’s tough because we’re in Granite City, but we get lumped into the St. Louis category, which is fine because we do serve the greater St. Louis community. But I think the fact that we’re in Illinois makes it hard. Once you stamp Illinois on something, people think it’s far. You come across questions and you’re just not sure how to answer them. Issues of gentrification come up, when you’re running a space. Especially us in Granite City, where it is a poorer community. But you have to make decisions sometimes. It’s the lesser of two evils. You either don’t get to be in the space, and nobody gets to see art, or you do. And there’s a couple of people who might poke you a little bit. But being an organizer has it’s ups and downs.
Luckily, St. Louis is a super supportive community and there are artists who are absolutely amazing. They’re accessible, they’re down to say yes to anything. But yes, it’s stressful. I don’t get paid to do anything so a lot of the time it’s like “Why am I doing this? It’s taking up a lot of time.” But at the end of the day it’s super gratifying, and a way to maintain being involved with everybody.
MM: I feel like that’s the general outlook of so many people that do arts adjacent things that are non-profit. You love doing it, so you just do it. Because it’s fun and it’s a mental exercise and everyone is great that you get to work with.
ML: Yeah, again, I think going back to your question about goals for the next three years — and maybe this is me totally making shit up — but I feel like there is some disconnect between all of the art spaces in St. Louis. It’s a shame because when you go to Chicago, anywhere you look there’s an art space. But in St. Louis, there aren’t that many. And the spaces we do have are absolutely amazing, but I feel like there’s no communication between them. I’m hoping next year — whether it be just having a potluck between all the spaces, or whatever it is — figure out a way to connect the dots between our places.
G-CASH is this Friday at Beverly Redux November 30th at Beverly Redux from 7-11.