Ever since the first shelter-in-place order went into effect in March, Cabrillo College’s art gallery has been working to adapt and keep afloat. This has meant moving all exhibits to virtual formats and focusing on social media outreach while continuing to support students.
In early November, Cabrillo Gallery launched its annual fundraising exhibit, “12×12,” via its website. So far, organizers say things have been going well, despite having less than half the normal amount of entries.
“We weren’t sure of the response we’d get, with everything going on,” said Gallery Director Beverly Rayner. “But we have some very loyal people who were right there for us. People who are in the show are excited, and we’ve been getting a lot of online engagement.”
“12×12” is the gallery’s biggest fundraiser of the year and one of their most popular exhibits. The premise is that all artists must create a piece that is 12 inches tall by 12 inches wide. The work can be from any sort of medium—painting, mixed media, photo collage, etc.—as long as the frame of the piece remains that size. Amateur, professional and student artists are invited to participate.
With the Covid-19 pandemic throwing a wrench into normal operations, the show is now online. Rayner and Program Coordinator Victoria May took submitted photos of pieces and added backgrounds and drop shadows, to give the appearance they are attached to gallery walls. For social media, they shared them in groups of four.
“Typically with this show, we have a full day where we arrange all of the pieces, make them work together,” Rayner said. “And we found that it’s still needed, even when online. There was a lot of shuffling around to choose the groupings, finding connections so they compliment each other. That’s part of what curating a show is … creating relationships between the works.”
Rayner said that the most exciting part of “12×12” is the range of the artwork itself. Not only in mediums, but themes as well.
“There’s really something for everyone,” she said, “from endearing to dark, personal to political … there are so many different voices.”
So far, the exhibit has seen a handful of sales, but not close to what is normal. Rayner said that they’ve had a difficult time trying to entice their regular buyers without a physical gallery, especially since they launched around the time of the presidential election.
But the exhibit will remain up through Dec. 11—and May says they hope for sales to pick up closer to the holidays. The pieces are priced lower than in most exhibits and the majority of proceeds go directly to the artists.
“How we sell art is different from a normal auction model,” she said. “Our fundraising comes from the artist’s entry fees… that way, the artist gets most of the sale.”
Rayner added that they lowered this year’s entry fee to $12.
“Especially right now … this show gives everyone a chance to enter and share their work,” she said. “It’s very democratic.”
The Cabrillo Gallery is both a community art space and a tool for students. Even during distance learning, the gallery provides content for art students that ties in with their classes. With a limited operational budget, fundraisers such as “12×12” aid the gallery in much-needed resources, from shipping costs to paying artists to speak at events.
Despite everything, May said, the gallery is holding steady, even with some budget cuts.
“We’re lucky, in some ways,” she said. “Here are Cabrillo, we’re institutionally supported … so I think it’ll be easy for us to reemerge. That’s why it’s important to keep this energy going, to keep reaching out to the community.”