The Power of Art Held in a Shoebox: Kristine Schomaker on PR, Gallery Space, and Art Itself

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Kristine Schomaker is something of a Renaissance woman – public relations pro, project space owner, magazine publisher, and artist.

As a working artist, Schomaker started Shoebox PR in February 2014 after realizing there was a huge need for artist marketing services.

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“There are more artists than there are PR companies. I have a degree in Art and Art History.  As a former instructor, I wanted to continue supporting artists any way I could. As an artist myself, I knew there was a need for artist support. I created my company to help artists in areas they aren’t able to.”

She notes that being an artist today is more than just creating the work.

“Today artists have to be entrepreneurs. A lot of artists don’t know where to begin. I come from an administrative background as well as my education history so it was natural for me to become a teacher, a supporter for artists.”

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Shoebox PR is not a traditional PR firm, but rather more of a support network for artists.

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“We help artists run their social media accounts, we do PR for their solo exhibitions, we help artists create community and build bridges in the art world that will help them persevere in there career,” she relates.

Her company also does social media promotion using Shoebox PR’s network of art influencers, and researches and filters calls for art/grants/residencies.

“We offer career consultation and guidance, studio visits, consult on artist statements, websites and more.”

Schomaker has success stories which include feature stories in major arts publications such as Juxtapoz, Hi-Fructose, Beautiful Bizarre, Huffington Post, LA Magazine, Konbini, Creators Project and here on Diversions LA among others.

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Along with assisting artists with coverage from other publications, Schomaker has also begun her own, Art & Cake.

“I felt there was a need for more writing on art. There are a few great local art publications, but there aren’t enough for all of the artists.  I wanted to add to the art world conversation. I wanted to support the lesser known art establishments, alternative venues and artists. Along the way, I realized I am also able to support art writers who deserve more attention and need more space to write,” she attests.

As an artist, much of the services she provides are tied to how she herself would like to be treated as an artist.

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“I am a multidisciplinary artist working to crush stereotypes and demythicize ideas of beauty.  My current work is part of a new cross-platform project called “An Ode to a Lost Love” whose leitmotif addresses the de(con)struction of self in relation to society’s perception/projection/reflection of beauty,” she explains.  “This work focuses on the complexities of gender identity, body image, and the societal privileging of women’s physical beauty over character and intellect.”

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The series already includes painting on canvas and mannequins, sculptural installation, digital animation made in Second Life, and narrative photography and video.

“I am a cultural producer who reaches outside of the studio to extend my creative energies and pursuits to my community. Shoebox PR, Art & Cake and Shoebox Projects are all an extension of my work as an artist.”

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And speaking of Shoebox Projects, Schomaker has created her own gallery/workshop space as another avenue for artists to promote and show their work.

“I’m lucky that I had the perfect space in my loft,” she says. “Artists are finding new ways to create, show, and sell. I started Shoebox Projects in November 2016 with month-long residencies. They’ve all been exceptional and fun.”

With so much going on, it may be hard for Schomaker to fit everything she’s doing into a “Shoebox” – but she’s certainly succeeding.

  • Genie Davis; photos: Kristine Schomaker

Emily Wiseman Has the Power

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Above, from Powerful

The culmination of a month-long Shoebox Projects residency, a reception for Emily Wiseman’s Powerful will be held February 12th from 3-5 p.m.

 

 

Wiseman’s installation here is a continuation of her “Occupy Series,” exploring fabric and pattern. These lush, textural works consider the symbolism of their material and how it is used in the design of men’s business suits, long seen as symbolizing power and wealth.

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Above, detail from “If Wishes Were Horses”

Wiseman has made the very cloth these suits are cut from into gorgeous yet subversive political art. The artist deconstructs and redesigns the suits, making them into decorative, beautiful objects that exude a feminine sense of comfort, using them to reflect the opposite of their original design and function.

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Above, “If Wishes Were Horses”

The “occupy” refers to the idea of determining just who is being occupied by the simple act of wearing the original clothing. Her almost ethereal floral works, such as “I’ve Been Waiting for You Obi Wan” and “If Wishes Were Horses” flawlessly convey the way these garments and their meaning is perceived. According to Wiseman, they reflect themes of gender bias, corporate influence, and income inequality. But even without this knowledge, the lush and lovely fabric works subtly suggest how something that is essentially worn as armor – at least in the corporate and political world – can be turned inside out, restructured to become something that opens the heart rather than constricts it.

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Above, “I’ve Been Waiting Obi Wan”

Flowers are symbolic of, and often used to represent, peace, tranquility, love, and caring. They are natural. They are fragile but resilient, they are created not by man but by nature. In short, Wiseman is replacing that corporate armature, or rather turning it into, something purer, and ultimately more enduring. These artworks and what they symbolize may not look tough at first glance, but they are. They have survived deconstruction. They have survived being trapped within another form far less harmonious. And here they are.

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Above, “CFO”

Wiseman’s “CFO” continues a floral theme while retaining a construction analogous to – including a zippered fly – a feminized version of a suit.

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“Powerful” takes Wiseman’s work in a new direction. “The business suits are reduced to the crotch area: the fly. The suit sections are framed like portraits,” the artist relates. “They are isolated to the opening that accesses the genitals. The pieces vary in depth from flat to 4″.” She has also made these works interactive: viewers are invited to leave objects, including text or anything that seems appropriate in the opening, then zip the fly. “The closing event will include unzipping the flies, exposing the content,” Wiseman explains.

The inspiration for this work came from a government website, https://oversight.house.gov/subcommittee/full-committee/.

“I’ve been thinking about this work for quite a while…experimenting with how it takes shape, coming to understand it’s meaning and absorbing current events,” Wiseman says. Viewing photographs of the U.S. House of Representatives Oversight Committee, grouped together by political party inspired this step in her artistic process.

“The Republican section is 25 men, 24 white, and 1 woman. The Democratic section is much more reflective of the gender and racial diversity of the population,” she asserts. And all are clad in business suits.

Each aspect of the “Occupy Series,” including Powerful, began with a different sort of inspiration, a love of things handcrafted and decorative, and an attraction to fabric and pattern. This was the artistic fuel for her fire: “Coming of age in the counterculture of the 60s and 70s when social activism, feminism/gender politics and anti-consumerism were core values has been a major influence. I often combine my personal experience with domestic sensibilities and larger, current social issues,” she notes.

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Above, Wiseman’s rug 

The California-based artist has exhibited locally at Launch and LA Art Core among other galleries, and along with her work in fabric, has created evocative paintings, installations, murals, and glass paintings.

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Above, “Redacted,” from the artist’s Security Measures series.

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Above, Wiseman’s window painting in Petaluma, Calif.

With the “Occupy Series,” she has created something original, wonderful, and highly political – fabric-art that the mind and spirit can wear.

Don’t miss trying this one on!

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Above, the artist at work.

Shoebox Projects is located at 660 South Avenue 21 #3 in Los Angeles. For more information, visit https://shoeboxprojects.com/

  • Genie Davis; photos: courtesy of artist

A Special Place for Exhibitions: Shoebox Projects Artist Residency

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Above Shoebox projects premiered their residency series with a work by Jennifer Gunlock and Susan Feldman Tucker.

Shoebox Projects began hosting a new artist residency in November, offering space for emerging and mid-career artists to present work ranging from encompassing installations to more traditional gallery shows. Founder Kristine Schomaker, an artist herself and owner of Shoebox PR, an artist marketing agency, created the space located in DTLA’s Brewery lofts, to provide a venue for artists to experiment and expand.

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Above, Schomaker with Gunlock and Feldman.

The first exhibition in the new space concluded with a reception just before Thanksgiving from artists Jennifer Gunlock and Susan Feldman. It was Schomaker’s idea that this very different artistic pair work together.

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The reception allowed viewers to intimately explore a single, encompassing installation, one that involved both Gunlock’s drawings with collage and gesso-transfer and Feldman’s wood and found materials sculptures. The end result is a tree house fantasy, a wildly creative mix of fairy-tale house, wilderness shack, and surrealistic living space.

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“We don’t want to project too much of an agenda on it, but a few inspirations, words and phrases we bounced around about it were Disneyland’s Swiss Family Robinson Treehouse, abandoned privies, secret hiding places, a ladder to nowhere, and a jungle gym,” Gunlock says.

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Above, details from Feldman-Tucker’s sculptural work, wood, rope, and other found pieces coalesced into an expansive structure.

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Whimsical and packed with creative elements that allowed viewers to discover nooks and crannies, swings and secret sleeping spots, the work was delightful, a free-form world-building experience that encouraged viewer participation.

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Above, a detail from Gunlock’s work, which evokes images of New Orleans style in the structure of a tree house.

Shoebox Projects is fully booked for the coming year with their monthly series of residencies, each of which will end with a solo show. Viewers are encouraged to attend not just the concluding reception, but to engage with artists and their work throughout the month long process.

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The next artist in residence will be Susan Amorde, followed by Emily Wiseman, and Karrie Ross, above left.

Shoebox Projects is located at the Brewery, 660 South Avenue 21 #3 in Los Angeles.

  • Genie Davis; photos: Genie Davis, Kristine Schomaker