A Unique, Artist-Centric Show And Auction At The Luminary: Lot 49, 2018

The Luminary in St. Louis has posited a unique model for how an arts nonprofit can focus more about the artists it supports than itself. One of the clearest examples of this is the organization’s upcoming fundraising art show and auction, Lot 49. The show consists of one-of-a-kind pieces submitted by over 40 artists, with 51 percent of the profits returned to the artists and the remaining 49 percent to The Luminary. Needless to say, a split with such a high percentage of funds reinvested in the artists, particularly for a nonprofit fundraiser, is quite radical.

To support The Luminary’s forward-thinking mission and enjoy an inspirational arts event, attend Lot 49 on March 23 from 7-10 p.m. The VIP Cocktail Reception and Auction Preview will be from 7-8 p.m., with beer from Urban Chestnut and wine from Yaqui’s, as well as food from Mofu, Pintsize Bakery and Diana’s Bakery. The public opening will be from 8-10pm, and the auction catalog can be viewed online beforehand.

To understand further what an arts organization can mean for an artist’s career, we spoke with contributing artist Nick Schleicher, who has since returned to his hometown of St. Louis after receiving a BFA from The Art Institute Of Chicago. Keep reading for our Q&A with Schleicher.

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Photo courtesy of The Luminary.

Tell me about your experience with The Luminary and the Lot 49 show.
I’ve been participating in Lot 49 for the last two years—this my third year. It’s an incredible survey of artists, both of those who are up-and-coming and more established. The Luminary puts together incredible shows, and it’s really fun to be a part of it. They also use their platform to push for social change and move society forward. It’s a great place for my work to be seen as well, because it’s also forward-thinking. I use a lot of acrylic paint, for example, which I really feel is the future of painting.

It’s also clear that The Luminary really wants to give back to the artists who are helping them, and let artists benefit so they can continue making work. It can’t be said enough how important The Luminary is for artists, and organizations like it. It’s been solid for so long in St. Louis, with studios, residencies and resources for artists. It’s amazing.

In your artist statements, you call yourself a “process painter.” What does that mean, exactly?
For me, it’s a lot of reflecting on the process of making the work itself, which came through starting as a perceptual painter—doing portraiture and things like that. I fell out of love of the process of making work like that. Now in my pieces, I like to leave a lot of hints as to how the work was done.

Tell me about the pieces you’ve submitted to Lot 49 this year.
This year I submitted two pieces: one painting and one sculpture. The painting specifically relates to that process of painting I mentioned earlier and showing how the layering is done. It definitely falls in line with the process painting. It’s called “Blue Green,” done in oil and acrylic on panel.

The sculpture is called “Maquette for Monolith/Beacon,” done with acrylic and iridescent pigment on foam, which sits on a birch plinth. That’s a very new work based on an evolution of paintings I’ve been doing from the past two years—I pulled them off the wall and made something new with them. They were inspired after a conversation I had with another St. Louis artist, and we discussed that these sculptural pieces are a kind of marker that say, “Here is something special.” I want it to be something people can gather around and discuss. The Luminary is a safe space that encourages discussion about the work, or between people about whatever they may have going on in their lives.

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“Maquette for Monolith/Beacon,” photo courtesy of Nick Schleicher.

How do you navigate between sculpture and painting as an artist? When you have an idea, how do you decide what form it needs to take? 
I really let the work dictate what it’s going to be, whether I’m painting or sculpting. I don’t really feel like I’m taking a new approach either way. I have a series of paintings that work with acrylic skins, which you can make because acrylic dries very quickly and creates a plastic skin. I was thinking of those paintings as sculptures, and how they can exist as both forms.

You also have this series of painted basketballs I saw on your website. What inspired those pieces?
That is an older body of work that got revisited last year during a show. I was making these paper-mache basketballs as part of an idea where I was taking objects with a physical purpose and recreating them so they just existed as an object. I tried to be very faithful to the object, so that from far away they really do look like basketballs, but when you get up close you can see it’s a painted form. If you were to pick it up, it would be very disappointing because they’re so light, and they’d break if you tried to bounce them.

I began that body of work when audiobooks and tablets were starting to replace books and people weren’t valuing books as a physical form anymore. I was upset about that. But I feel like that’s changing.

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“Basketball Skin,” photo courtesy of Nick Schleicher.

You studied art in Chicago and then came back to St. Louis. What led you back here?
After I graduated, I worked as a studio artist in Chicago for an artist named Philip Hanson, who really pushed my work. But honestly, I couldn’t find work in the art world to sustain living up there and I had a better chance of that coming back to St. Louis. I work at the World Chess Hall Of Fame as the exhibitions manager, which is really rooted in art. I’ve also found an incredible network of other artists here.

What do you think is the power of art? The emotional power, how it can effect social and political change, or how it can force viewers to see the world differently?
Art is something I’m going to do no matter what to have some fulfillment in what I’m doing. It really has the power to start those challenging conversations and give it a platform. It can pose questions, engage dialogue and incite change. I’ve really seen that in my time coming back here. It’s been incredible to see artists who are so motivated to say, “We’re here, we’re strong and this is our voice.

 

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