Blackbird Studios to close soon, plans farewell party


blackbird studios
Brent Holmes

Gallery shot of Blackbird Studios' Wes anderson-themed show.

How fluent in the films of Wes Anderson must you be to appreciate the Wes Anderson-themed exhibit at Blackbird Studios? Pretty darn fluent. I mean, look at the place: Anderson as immersive environment. Sure, a few pieces are visually independent enough to appreciate on their own (Montana Black’s boxed assemblage caught my eye); others you can puzzle out if you recall the basics of a film’s marketing campaign (Nancy Brown’s fox installation). But most require that the viewer know enough about Anderson’s movies to complete the circuit of understanding. Never having seen a frame of his filmography, I have no idea what, for example, David E. Veliz’s “Walt Bishop Reading the Newspaper” could possibly signify.

That’s okay with Gina Quaranto, Blackbird’s operator. It doesn’t matter. Because this show isn’t really about the art, per se, or at least not as it pertains to the viewer's perception of it. As you may have heard by now, this is the gallery’s final show, ever. (Calendar alert: The shutdown blowout is January 15. Par-tay!) Quaranto has long wanted to mount an Anderson-themed show, and, as a parting what-the-hell gesture, she gave herself permission at last: “I want what I want,” she told me, grinning largely. Despite Anderson’s alpha role in the tweeing of American culture — a somewhat dubious distinction, perhaps — it’s clear he’s been a source of inspirational whimsy for Quaranto and some other artists. (“His movies are so stylized they look like paintings on the big screen.”) So the show makes sense from that angle. Nor is this much of a departure for a gallery that’s often premised group shows on playful pop culture, from zombies and aliens to Dr. Seuss and Willie Wonka. But, really, this time it’s about getting out on her own terms. “It wasn’t so much for the viewer this time as it was for me,” she says. “It’s an artists’ show. If the population likes it, that’s awesome. But it’s for us.”

Support comes from

After the January 15 shutdown shindig, full-time momhood beckons. She won’t miss the adjunct duties of gallery-running — the marketing, the begging for people to come see her shows. That stuff’s a grind. She will miss offering a venue to lowbrow and emerging artists, who might’ve had to fight harder for a toehold without Blackbird. “That’s the part I will miss, and what I feel worst about. Hopefully someone else will step in.”

Blackbird Studios, 1551 S. Commerce St., 

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