AU visited with curator extraordinaire Didi Dunphy at the opening of the Magical Mystery Tour show at the Hotel Indigo’s Gallery on Oct. 26, 2017.
Can you tell us about the gallery space here at the Indigo?
DD: The gallery at Indigo is a delightful space because it incorporates art into everyday life. It is literally 24/7 on view. It’s part of the tourist industry so that the visitors to our lovely Athens area get to see the best of what we have to offer as visual artists. The Indigo boutique hotel line is designed around something they call the “neighborhood story.” It’s reflective of the nature of that city. So here of course it is arts and music. The gallery was established in the original design. However, there have been great improvements since I’ve been here to establish it as a full-fledged program, which is a quarterly program with thematic-based shows that feature area artists in multi-medium setting. They are all wall–cloud pieces because this space is also purposeful for receptions, meetings, and other uses that you might find in a hotel setting.
How did the Magical Mystery Tour exhibition come about?
It’s always a funny question because I live with Sticky Post-It notes. I am constantly seeing or thinking of different ideas. Sometimes it’s just brainstorming titles of shows. Sometimes the theme comes before the art, which is harder. Most times, happily, the art comes first before the theme. In this case, I was in Columbus, Georgia and I saw Orion Wertz paintings in this show.
I had started thinking about dreamscapes. Not necessarily always surrealistic environments, but also nightmares, and happy dreams, and what that subconscious landscape might look like, an artist’s interpretation. So his paintings sort of started the idea, and of course, what better than to use Magical Mystery Tour as a way to encourage your visitor to get on board with this kind of journey
There’s also a children’s book launch tonight with illustrations by Jacob Wenzka and writer Bart King, entitled, The Girl Who Kept Night In Her Closet.
These illustrations fit in with the theme of dreamy qualities. It had this idea of maybe you can peek in a crack of your window or your and see something unexpected and exciting. So that’s how the show theme came up.
What’s coming up for you? Can you give us a little future glimpse into the world of Didi?
(laughing) Because this is quarterly, I do not start planning until a month into the current show. However, I am very, very excited because this weekend the Glass Cube is being installed by the new artist.
That’s our next question. What’s the wild Glass Cube outside?
The Glass Cube is on the corner of the Indigo property. It is outside, it is viewable only from the outside. There’s no entry point. It is, again, a 24/7 art viewing experience. It’s illuminated, climate-controlled inside. Walk by, bike by, drive by, all day, all night long. It is an artist’s residency and it changes twice a year. I commission artists to create a unique work for that space that operates during the day and at night. And that’s a big challenge. They come and stay at the hotel when they’re installing as part of the residency and there’s a small honorarium. This time coming up is for Lucha Rodriguez, who is a paper sculptor. She’s adding LED lights to it and it is going to be sensational. And it should be completed within a week.
Can we learn a little about your art background?
I’m a practicing professional artist with a very heavy-duty studio practice, and represented by a gallery in Atlanta. I got my MFA in San Francisco State at the Institute in Performance and Video Art. I’ve been a professor at the University. I was a visiting Scholar for a year as a full-time professor, and when that position was concluded I started curating exhibits, and have always taught professional practices. So understanding a relationship between being an artist and practitioner of professional business person, it seemed to be like a good fit. Currently I am Director/Curator of the Gallery of Indigo and the Glass Cube, I am Co-Curator of the Classic Center, which is a twice annual rotating exhibit space, and then, Director of the Lyndon House, which is more than a full-time job.
Is there a resurgence of the arts in Athens now?
Yes, we’ve always been a very artsy town; but I will say in the last couple years, in the last 5 years, that the arts are more supported in regards to their viability and our economic landscape than before and that having platforms like the Indigo and other platforms. Trio Gallery, Athica, our independent experimental spaces. I would say that Athens has 1 of everything, well maybe we’ll have 2 of everything sometime soon, because we are growing always.