Jesse Davidson

On Feb. 1, The AV Art Gallery/WAC (We Are Community) Arts, will debut a new show titled, “AV Looking Glass.” 

Artists will create their own environments with a movable wall facing outside the gallery. This is a creative work-around for the public to safely view art outside and accommodate COVID restrictions. I caught up with WAC Arts Co-founder Michelle Navarette to learn more.

Jesse Davidson: How long have you been involved with WAC Arts? What is your role within it?

Michelle Navarette: I’ve been with WAC Arts since it officially formed in 2013, my role is showcase curator alongside my two partners. Before that, I was hosting an open mic and people would bring their artwork in and we’d set it up for the night. After having so many different artists bring their work to me, it seemed apparent that it was vital to get a community arts project going. Both my partners with WAC Arts were active parts of open mic as well and shared the same sentiment about our very talented artisans. WAC stands for “We Are Community,” which means that every single person plays an active role with us and can be as involved as they’d like.

JD: How does WAC Arts choose a theme per show?

MN: We choose themes depending on what we think would be a fun challenge for local artists. We try to come up with “out of the box” themes, so that we reach a broader community base then your more typical themes. We’re not just about showcasing, but giving artists a chance to expand their horizons and try new things. We see every theme as an opportunity to diversify any given body of work and portfolio. When we choose our themes it’s only with the growth of our community in mind.

JD: Everyone has been transitioning to some form of virtual show during the pandemic. How has it evolved from the first one?

MN: Since the first virtual show, we gained a bit of traction, even though it’s much more difficult to present art virtually; because the best way to view art is in person, of course. In many ways, putting on virtual shows is more difficult than in-person shows. There’s something about standing in an art gallery and analyzing every detail within a piece that seems to appeal more to people. Sure, with virtual showcases we can zoom in and do our best to work the angles, but there’s just something special about being present in an art gallery that virtual art can never contend with. This year, instead of doing virtual showcases, we’re focusing more on virtual art lessons and musical presentations. As long as we have the window space, we could at least still offer an in-person viewing experience for the art, as opposed to virtually.

JD: What are the positive aspects of this new outdoor format?

MN: The new format allows us to showcase our local artists in a way that is conducive to COVID restrictions, while still promoting and showcasing our vibrant arts community in a way that’s safer and more comfortable. Realistically, we can try to center the show within the gallery, but because of social distancing, we’d rather people experience the art without us having to police the restrictions, As long as we have this spacious and beautiful art gallery, there’s no reason to not use it to the best of our abilities. Setting up the art to face the outside means that we’re still showing art, even with restrictions, we still have something going. To be able to show art in person within any capacity is a blessing in these times.

JD: What are your hopes for WAC Arts during 2021?

MN: WAC Arts wants to help nurture and build our growing creative community by offering showcasing opportunities. We also will be providing art classes and musical presentations that are as unique as the individuals involved. All we can ever hope for is to help shine some light on how diverse and wonderful the artists of the AV really are. Plus, with quarantine taking so much precedent in our lives, many artists have been thriving and are bursting at the seams to show — 2021 is definitely the time to bust out all of that art that’s been created over the course of this last year. We want to show that art and for artists that maybe weren’t as inspired, perhaps having the possibility to show live, will be what inspires them. I know it inspires me. We were just getting started in the gallery when the pandemic hit, so now it’s our goal to catch up and keep numerous rotating shows and events going. 2021 is most definitely the year of WAC Arts.

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