Nearly on the corner of 8th St. and Main Ave., just down the street from NDSU’s visual arts building Renaissance Hall, sits Look: Project Space.
For the month of April, Look has been providing the Fargo-Moorhead area with works from local students and professional artists. Co-founders Tessa Beck and Tyler Gefroh (in strong collaboration with Mark Weiler of Ecce Art Gallery) wanted Look to bridge the gap they saw between emerging artists and mid-career, professional artists.
Both art students themselves, Beck and Gefroh saw the opportunity to create a space where emerging artists could share work that wasn’t connected to the university.
“For the emerging artists or for the student artists, the only real potential exhibition space is within the universities,” Tyler Gefroh pointed out. “Which is fine, but a lot of times the work you put in there is either for an assignment that everyone is doing within a studio course, or it’s for the baccalaureate, which is when you’re done. You’ve done all this work in school and now you get your final show at the very end. Something like this gives opportunities for people while they’re going to school.”
“(W)e feel like there isn’t a platform or a space for emerging artists in the community,” Tessa Beck said. “It feels like all the show spaces that currently exist are mainly for more established or mid-career artists. We wanted to create a smaller, more experimental-type space that people could sort of start, launch their careers here and then eventually move their way up to higher price points and nicer — I guess not nicer — but more established galleries.”
Look isn’t exclusively for visual arts students, however.
Look: Project Space’s first show was with student Shane Hawley, who was finishing up a project that was “part installation, part sculpture.” An architecture student at NDSU, Hawley was doing a light study with cubes.
When Beck and Gefroh heard they would be able to lease the space for a month, which was on Friday, March 30, their immediate reaction was to ask Hawley.
“Right when we found out about the space and we had three days for an artist, he was the most obvious choice for that,” Beck said.
Their second show, Rough Sketch, featured the sketchbooks of 15 artists from the F-M community, ranging from professors to students to career artists. While they had the physical sketchbooks on display, they also hung the loose pages up on the walls salon-style.
“The title was Rough Sketch and it was very rough,” Gefroh described, “Some of them were ripped. It wasn’t focused on presentation, as far as like framed works or anything like that. We wanted to expose people to, within the sketchbooks, different creative processes and studies.”
“If you don’t have an artist in your life, you may not realize how long it takes to work through one idea or one concept or even just the amount of practice it takes,” Beck continued.
Following Rough Sketch was a collaboration with Lucid Bakery, involving a fundraiser for Veg Fest and artwork centered around food.
Their final exhibition will open this Thursday night, and will feature collections of artwork at various apartments around Fargo, then a final reception at the main Look: Project Space.
“A space like this creates opportunities for not just people within the arts community, but people to connect with outside of the arts community and to collaborate with,” Gefroh said.
Originally, Beck and Gefroh had hoped Look would be a regular space, where they would host bi-monthly exhibitions. However, things did not work out the way they’d hoped. They received their current location for only a month.
“We’ve talked about moving forward,” Beck said. “Space is going to be important to consider, but we’re deciding whether we want to continue working in only month-long formats, do we only want to operate this way. I guess, do we want the brand to be based on the format or something else. And those are things that we’re thinking about, but don’t necessarily have answers to yet.”
They hope to get answers sooner rather than later, in order to keep the flow of energy continuing. Neither wants to abandon the project they’ve been trying to put together for nearly a year.
“We’ll keep looking,” Gefroh said. “I guess our biggest goal is just to get to the end of the month. Not to be done, just to sort of relax and think about what could the next steps be. It could possibly change completely, something else might open up. We have really no idea.”
“It might not be in this format, too,” Beck added. “It could be like a short-term, programming or curatorial collaboration for an event. I mean there are just a lot of things we could do moving forward.”
For now, Look has their final show opening Thursday night. For more information and to keep up to date on the event location, visit their Facebook page.