Gallery 25...a 35 year journey

When I look back on my life, I remember my mom telling me never to boost about anything. It is an old Asian belief, maybe even a generational belief that if you brag or boost about something you risk the “powers-that-be” to become jealous and send bolts of lightning to rain on your parade.

I’ve mentioned on several occasions, my association with Gallery 25, the extension of Judy Chicago’s Feminist Art Experiment (celebrating it’s 40th anniversary) and the hard-earned co-operative gallery space that Joyce Aiken made real for so many (now celebrating it’s 35th anniversary).

There was a core group of 21 women who made up the gallery, in a time when you couldn’t find any acknowledgement of women artists except minor additions that stated that they were married to a famous male artist, had a liaison with a famous male artist, or were suspected of being gay.

The original group felt that to even the playing field, a space had to be created to allow for the female perspective to be studied, created, and seen as valid…not only to the public, BUT to the artist, herself. When your views & talents are placed on a secondary shelf labeled “hobby” rather than “profession”, your hardest challenge will be to change that mindset.

I was lucky enough to be part of the original founding members…went to the artist’s exhibition which was a combination of young emerging artists, along with a few samplings from the founding members. I was pleasantly surprised to notice a social dynamic that very few see, maybe because it takes so long to see the progression.

I noticed as the young emerging artists stood in front of their work, they talked about their inspiration, their manipulations of different mediums, and how they felt about each piece….then the exhibition director brought out feminist points or images that she saw that the artists didn’t even imagine. I had to smile a little since I use to do the same thing with my own art pieces way back then…trying to find a feminist tie after the fact.

I then noticed that all the founding members there had a strong sense of personal perspective (classic feminist ideal) …also a feeling of freedom that I think only age gives you. When I had little talks with each of my former colleagues, I was so proud of where all of us landed. I did notice though that there were some strong “radical feminist” views of a few of them, because they could still see how much more has to be done…BUT all I could see, were those wonderful young women artists, who were never berated by their male professors or peers, who never felt any limitations where they could exhibit, who never hesitated fleshing out their ideas with old & new techniques & JUST MADE ART….dare I say, I’m so proud to be part of the Gallery 25 past & future.