Now officially open is Gallery Mirror Amsterdam, a new arts venture in Second Life curated by Arete of Cyrene (AretevanCyrene). Occupying a homestead region, the facility comprises a primary gallery building of a modern design, with a second warehouse-like gallery facing it across a canal (and which current forms the landing point for the region). These sit with a region design resembling Amsterdam.
“The design is based on the place where my grandad grew up near the docks,” Arete explained during on of my visits. An artist living in Amsterdam herself, Arete hopes the region will become an SL arts community nexus. As well as the warehouse and main gallery build, the region includes a number of Dutch canal houses which will be made available for artists to hold exhibitions in addition to the main spaces.
“The idea here is to let artists connect with each other and to promote art to visitors,” she continued. “”We have very talented people in SL.”
The opening exhibition at the main gallery features six of these talents: Gitu Aura, Vallys Baxter, Miles Cantelou, Brysen Miller, Ada Resident and Cate Ansaldo (CateVogel).
The selection of these six reflects much of Arete’s thinking with the region and the exhibitions she plans to hold at Gallery Mirror. Rather than simply offering a space in which artists can display their art, Arete has sought to create and environment in which she can bring together artists whose visions and ideas reflect ones another in some way, within a space that in turn reflects the work of the artists.
“Miles was the first artist I invited. His acceptance led me to invite the others Arete explained. “Thematically, they work together.” As well as these six, she has been putting together a calendar, and now has commitments from artists through into 2019.
As an artist in both the physical world and SL, Arete sees her work as a curator as very much working in partnership with the artists she invites to Gallery Mirror. She provides advice and feedback on themes, the placement of images in the various display spaces within the gallery, and so on.
The care put into Gallery Mirror is also shown in the fact that the region itself took four months to develop, including preparations for the opening exhibition. Arete described her approach to the design thus, “I’ve designed the whole region with the thought of creative display. Art must flow; it needs air and open space so that the observer can experience the full impact of the works on display.” In this, the Amsterdam style setting offers the opportunity to display 3D art out on the waters of the canal and docks – something Arete has already taken into consideration.
The main gallery building is well-appointed in this regard. Three storeys in height, is offers large rooms with plenty of open space and good lighting in which visiting artists can display their work. It can support up to six artists at a time: two on the ground floor, which includes a lobby area with a lounge / bar area behind it. For the first exhibition, these feature the art of Cate Vogel and Gitu Aura. On the mezzanine above is a large open area, superbly displaying Miles’ art. A second room (still awaiting the artist at the times of my visits) sits at the front of this level.
The upper floor features the final two exhibition spaces – these occupied by Brysen Miller and Vallys Baxter – together with a social space. The latter was intended to be used for music events such as openings, but Arete informed me she’s now rented a parcel on another region which she plans to use for social engagements, so that the music doesn’t interrupt people’s appreciation of the art on display in the gallery.
Arete further brings the gallery to life through the use of sculptures – notably by CioTToLiNa Xue and Mistero Hifeng -, together with smaller pieces of 2D art she has selected.
Exhibitions are planned for periods of two months at a time. “I’m now working with artists on a ‘couples’ exhibition for August / September,” Arete told me.
When visiting the region, don’t confine yourself to the gallery spaces – as noted above, the surrounding dutch canal houses are available to artists, and while she is far too modest to point to it herself, I would recommend visiting the house alongside the warehouse gallery, as Arete has a small exhibition of her work on display. Also, there are 3D art to be found out on the waters already.
Gallery Mirror represents a genuine commitment to support art in Second Life, and the opening event brings together six artists of unique talent in an absorbing exhibition. It is definitely not an exhibition to be missed, and this is very definitely a venue worth keeping an eye on. When visiting, please do set aside time to fully appreciate it and also, do consider making a donation towards the region’s continued existence.
- Gallery Mirror Amsterdam (Antigua Island, rated: Moderate)