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Elise Schweitzer takes over as Stutz curator 

click to enlarge Elise Schweitzer
  • Elise Schweitzer

In October 2012, the gallery formerly known as Stutz Art Space was rebranded as the Raymond James Stutz Arts Gallery. Call that a prelude to big changes in the gallery space planned for this year, both in terms of physical infrastructure and curatorial approach.

The January show at the gallery, Landscape: Structural, Ethereal, opened under the curatorship of new gallery director Elise Schweitzer, who moved her studio to the Stutz in 2009.

An adjunct instructor at the Herron School of Art & Design, Schweitzer knows something about putting on an engaging show: Centaurs & Bellydancers, her November 2012 solo show at Gallery 924, mixed up the mythical with scenes from contemporary American life, with one large-scale painting showing a group of centaurs crashing a wedding party, for example.

Schweitzer says she became curator by happenstance, more or less, when, while volunteering at a show in fall 2012, she happened to wax poetic about her ideas for the gallery to the right person. (The Stutz Artists Association had been looking for a new gallery director after Andy Chen, the previous director, stepped down in 2012.) She's studied at Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts in Philadelphia and at Indiana University in Bloomington, and has been in Indianapolis since she was awarded a teaching fellowship by Herron. I talked with her by phone last Wednesday evening.

NUVO: On Jan. 17 you'll have three very different types of artists exhibiting, as well as talking about, their work. Wug Laku works with computer-manipulated photography, Ginny Taylor Rosner is more of a traditional photographer and then there's a painter: Marna Shopoff.

Schweitzer: I think all of their work is about landscape, but it's more about the feeling of a landscape than the actual representation of it. Even with Ginny's current work, which maybe as you say is more traditional photography, her photographs of windmills are taken with a lot of motion blur, in low light, with different kinds of weather conditions. So you get the feeling that you're actually moving through a space, rather than looking at one static image of a space. And when Ginny was showing me her work as we were brainstorming about the show, it kept occurring to me that it's all about how you feel when you're moving through a space than it is about any one vantage point. And that actually made me think of Marna's work; you feel enveloped by it, and it's almost like a dream of architectural space rather than actually standing there. And Wug's work has that same sensation to me; there's something about his imagery that's more about how you feel when you're there than it is about how things look like.

NUVO: Isn't there an expansion going on at the Stutz gallery now?

Schweitzer: There is. We took back a room that used to be a teaching space for the Stutz Art Association but hadn't been used for a while. And we also took down a wall. So now there's an uninterrupted flow from the old gallery space, through the kitchen, into the new space. The new space has natural light, the walls are higher and it also has street access. So that's going to change a lot about how our shows can work. We can also have shows at different times. We have more of a footprint with double the amount of space. And that's given us a lot of energy.

NUVO: Is there ever a tension between bringing in outside artists versus showing Stutz artists?

Schweitzer: There's always debate about this and I think it's a healthy debate - figuring out what the needs of the community are, figuring out the best way to interact with people outside of the Stutz and the best way to bring people into our space. I think my vision of the best use of the gallery is that it have a consistent voice and that might be the thing that will change the most. I think really, really good shows are like an argument; they have to have a point of view and have to have a presence. When you walk into a show, you have to know why you're looking at what you're looking at.

NUVO: What are your plans for forthcoming shows?

Schweitzer: We have a show coming up in March, Recycled Parts, that's a partnership with Sun King Brewing Company. The idea is that a number of artists selected from old bike parts, picked out what they wanted and they made artwork about it. And it's a community-involved theme centered around recycling and bikes and drinking beer, because who doesn't enjoy that?

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