Curator Conversation: “Reimagine” and “X Marks the Spot”

Cultural Council of Palm Beach County

Nichole Hickey, Manager of Artist Services

To reimagine anything can bring up various emotions, trials and tribulations. This season, with the support of many generous organizations, I was able to “reimagine” shows of the Cultural Council’s past, all of which gave me great joy to hang in the gallery. Now, this wasn’t me playing favorites—all the shows I’ve put on here are like my children! The Related Group and CityPlace offered the Cultural Council a space to showcase the work of Palm Beach County artists, organizations as well as feature lectures or tours and more. 

So where does one begin with re-imagining past exhibitions in a new space? By looking through the 100+ complete exhibitions that have been displayed at the Cultural Council since our opening in January 2012, I was able to select a variety of shows that would (hopefully!) appeal to all age groups. There are eight natural “vignettes” in The Satellite (a former Restoration Hardware Kids) with a hallway bisecting the spaces. With that, I decided that the first two would feature one of our organizations we support (rotating monthly) with the opposite vignette showcasing what is currently exhibited in the Cultural Council’s main gallery: “X Marks the Spot”. We will get to that show soon. The other six remaining spaces feature a version of our Project Space, our very first show “Foundations,” and four other exhibitions that showcase the diversity of what we have displayed: “The 2017 Dina Baker Award Winner Debra Yates,” “Monochrome,” “Paws and Claws.” and “The Florida Room featuring Stephen Mooney.” Bringing back artists and work felt like a challenge at first but came quite naturally as all of the artists that were included were more than happy to be a part of the project. And though I couldn’t invite everyone that displayed in the original shows, those who were able to participate brought these oldies-but-goodies to life! It was a great opportunity for people who may not be familiar with the Cultural Council to have a little taste of what we do and hopefully visit our main headquarters in Lake Worth!

Speaking of which, “X Marks the Spot” is currently on display through February 2 in our main exhibition space at the Cultural Council. With the help of Galera Collective, and me asking artists who haven’t shown here before or those that have to think outside the box—we created a visual beast. Each new exhibition begins with a blank canvas after we reset the gallery. Soon after that, usually, the walls are lined with 2D framed pictures and sculptures waiting patiently on pedestals. For this show, we had boxes upon boxes of Loop spray paint that would eventually end up as murals on the Council’s walls. I wanted to showcase these artists as not just “guys who paint on trains” or “tag on the highway in the middle of the night,” I wanted to feature them as professional artists. Some may have started in the MSG Collective (now known as Miami Style Graffiti) and have now matured into revered, world-traveled and accomplished artists. Also included in the show are some newer names in the scene as well as photographers, painters and sculptors. My favorite part of this installation was watching the art come alive under the well-guided hands of each artist. Getting to know everyone’s background, the types of paint being used (who knew there were so many?!), the tips on the cans that create different flows of paint and, of course, the stories now and back in the day. I was also allowed to “collaborate” with a couple of artists while they were working during the install. And how about that impromptu break-dancing during installation? AND at the opening! Many of these muralists have gone back many decades but remain true to themselves and their craft. The other artists in the show continue to thrive in the Palm Beach community, and I am grateful for their participation in the show. Reflecting on the last few weeks of working with these artists, I feel like I’ve gained new brothers and sisters that have left an impression for life. And also to always wear gloves when spraying…