Studio search leads four young artists into unusual gallery space

December 18, 1992|By John Dorsey | John Dorsey,Art Critic

The space is huge, about 130 feet long and 50 feet wide. The four artists have walled-off studios within the space, and it's still big enough to make many a long-established gallery envious.

But Isospin Two South can't be called long-established. It opened this fall as an alternative space run by four artists in their 20s, two students and two recent graduates of the Maryland Institute College of Art. As Christy Taylor, one of the four, puts it, "We're completely learning."

Ms. Taylor, Christy M. Taylor (another person with the same name), Guy Overfelt and Lisa Meo opened the gallery this fall and are now presenting their second exhibit, a Maryland open show juried by Paul Moscatt and Dan Dudrow, established artists and teachers at the Institute. "It's a rather nice thing," says Mr. Moscatt of the venture, "pretty energetic and interesting."

The gallery came about because the artists, who knew each other through a support group, were in need of studios. When Mr. Overfelt and Christy M. Taylor found this space in a Southwest Baltimore factory building, the four realized it would do for more than studios and took a two-year lease.

Then came a lot of work. "There was a dirty brown floor and that's all," says Christy Taylor. "So we got a structural engineer to help with plans for walling off the studios, and we got the sheet rock and the other materials and put up the walls, spackled and painted them, and sanded the floor. I thought the sanding would take maybe a day, but one little patch took forever." The name Isospin, she says, is a mathematical term, but appropriate. "It's about how different things come together."

For their first exhibit in October, they advertised in newspapers as far away as Pittsburgh and New York and got submissions from both places. So far, they haven't chosen the works themselves but have found jurors with more experience. Nor do the four intend to show their own work. "We think that would be self-promotion," says Christy M. Taylor. "If our work is good enough to be shown, it's good enough to be in someone else's space. We want to help other people, not push ourselves."

The object of the gallery is quite simple, Mr. Overfelt says. "We're purely into offering contemporary emerging artists what isn't so easily possible, a space to exhibit in Baltimore."

Each person plays a different role in the operation. "I work as an administrative assistant," says Ms. Meo, "so [in the gallery] I do the business end. Guy is good at conducting the meetings. Christy [Taylor] does the public relations -- she's friendly and outgoing." Christy M. Taylor's self-described role is to "pick up things from other people. I stay in the background, and do basic things such as maintenance, construction, mailing, that kind of thing."

Their income comes from artists' entry fees and commissions on works sold (two from the first show, one so far from the second). But obviously such a venture is not likely to be profit-making. The four artists hope to apply for grants and raise donations from interested benefactors; they also hope to get volunteers so they can be open longer hours -- as of now, due to their hectic school and work schedules, they're only open Sunday afternoons from noon to 5 p.m., and by appointment.

They hope to have shows every other month; they have a show of postmodern art planned for February and want to do a sculpture show, perhaps in the fall. As for the more distant future, three of the four say they may go on to graduate school sometime in the next two years, and that could take them away from Baltimore. But they expect others will take their places, and Mr. Overfelt sees the possibility of the four artists spreading out as an opportunity:

"We could create other alternative spaces wherever we go and send this nationwide."

NEW GALLERY

What: Isospin Two South

Where: 208 S. Pulaski St.

When: Sundays, noon to 5 p.m., and by appointment. Current show ends Sunday.

Call: (410) 945-4812.

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