"The beauty of the world... has
two edges, one of laughter,
one of anguish, cutting the heart asunder.
~ Virginia Woolf (1929)
Mind Caviar, Vol. 2 Anniversary Issue, 2001
Ruin Gallery is a woman-owned business with two curators,
Amy Woodall and Tamara Moore.
"The gallery specializes exclusively in erotic art. Our mission is to be a forum for the free expression of the erotic through the fine arts and photography. It is startling how society seems to view sex and sexuality as much more pervasive these days (in movies and television), and yet people still balk at honest portrayals of erotic or sensual images. We hope our gallery will help others become more comfortable with this by experiencing sexuality as an art form... and we hope to allow artists to express themselves and their art in ways that they are not always able to do through traditional galleries.
Artists throughout the ages have had erotic components within their portfolios, and years, decades, even centuries later we are still struggling to find a venue for that angle of their work... still fighting against keeping it hidden."
~ Amy Woodall & Tamara Moore, Curators
|Blue Ruin Interview with
Amy Woodall & Tamara Moore, Curators
Mind Caviar: What is your personal philosophy regarding the art you exhibit?
Woodall: There is, of course, the beauty of the human form, as well as the beauty and sometimes wonder of our most intimate moments. And we love the ability of this art to still sometimes shock us. The experiences and emotions depicted in these pieces of art are very real. People are feeling them, doing them, and there's no reason not to display the imagery like any other piece of art. It's exciting and fun and thought-provoking... and very powerful in the range of emotions and thoughts it encourages.
Mind Caviar: Tell our readers about interesting artists you've met.
Moore: We've had some first-time exhibits for young and cutting-edge artists, but we also have had some folks who are firmly entrenched in the scene, such as Richard Kadrey-- a widely published novelist and writer (Covert Culture Sourcebook) and former senior editor for Future Sex magazine-- and Joseph Jobe, a fetish photographer whose work has been featured in fetish and adult magazines such as Fetish, Marquis, Femme Fatales. All of our artists have been interesting to us in the breadth of experience they've offered and the variety of the artwork they've provided us.
One in particular gave us some trouble... but also inspiration. The artist disappeared during his opening reception. People were milling about, wanting to meet the artist, and he was nowhere to be found. Weeks later we were on this artist's personal website and discovered that during the opening reception he'd been in the gallery's bathroom taking erotic photographs of his girlfriend, which he posted online. Since that time, the Blue Ruin bathroom's reputation as a notorious, infamous place has grown. This incident inspired us to start a tradition of keeping a Polaroid camera and film in the bathroom during opening night receptions; we have a sign asking people to take a photo and leave it. We now have a fabulous, erotic, and fun collection of Polaroids of people flashing, posing, simulating sex acts, etc.-creating their own erotic art. People look forward to this aspect now. It's a lot of fun.
Mind Caviar: Tell us about how the local community of Pittsburgh has received you.
Moore: We are happily surprised to report that we haven't had negative feedback. Pittsburgh is, for the most part, a conservative town, and a lot of surprise has been conveyed to us that we've "had the balls" to open such a gallery in such a blue collar town. Yet there is a strong and growing underground. The types of comments we get are "We really need a place like this," "Thank you for being here." We receive some wonderfully supportive comments and one encouraging word can lift our spirits for weeks.
One of the things we try to do, in terms of the gallery's physical environment, is make it very warm and inviting so that people can relax and feel comfortable enough to engage themselves with a kind of art that can make some people uneasy or embarrassed. Our web presence has grown, and we are encouraged by that.
Mind Caviar: You share your curatorship with your partner, Amy. Tell us more about your partnership.
Moore: We complement each other pretty well. One of us is blond, the other brunette... but it goes deeper than hair color...I am the more spontaneous, risk-taking one, and Amy is the thoughtful, sensible one. We work well together and are both completely committed to this gallery. We're best friends, which helps since we spend many, many, hours together. I handle the artist relations; Amy handles the contracts, accounting, and business aspects. But as for jurying artists and pulling together exhibits, we both contribute equally. We have different tastes in erotic art, and that helps us to avoid being too narrowly focused.
Mind Caviar: Any details you'd like to disclose about past exhibits that went particularly well?
Woodall: We've found that tying into other communities has made our opening nights and general visitorship more interesting. Our December show featured a female artist who was primarily involved in the motorcycle community for her day-to-day work; in fact her artwork combined motorcyles with the female human form. Our January artist is heavily involved in the local music scene, and we were able to commission a local musician to create a special CD for the exhibit. Our October artist is first and foremost a writer and we were able to incorporate a reading segment into his opening night, featuring his upcoming illustrated erotic novel Angel Scene. We consider these exhibits to be successful not only for the large and diverse crowds they each brought in, but for the extra element of knowledge/experience our visitors left with-- the art transcended the artist's photographs.
Mind Caviar: Tell us anything special you'd like our Mind Caviar readers to know about Blue Ruin.
One thing we are struggling against is the notion that the art we sell
is not "wall friendly." In other words, you wouldn't hang it above your
mantle (this doesn't apply to any of US of course...) and therefore we
get more appreciation and emotional support (which is extremely important)
than donations and sales (though this is getting better). We never set
out to make a profit on this endeavor. Indeed, we've put every dime we
have and some we don't into it, but we want to be able to exist, to be
here, to stay open. And so it's a labor of love.
Image Key to Artists (Left to Right):
1. "Taste" by Melvin Moten, Jr.
All Photos Copyright ©
2001 Blue Ruin Gallery. All rights reserved. Do not copy or post.
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