Background and Mission of the Atrium Gallery – The details about current shows are found on other pages with entry information. This page provides background on the gallery and its operating mission and philosophy.
Background – First and foremost the Gallery is located in a public workspace that is visited by approximately 3,000 people daily, or over 750,000 people a year. Being located in a workplace means the subject matter of the artwork exhibited cannot be offensive or overtly political. Nudity is not acceptable, nor is disturbing depictions of violence. Beyond these exceptions there are few limitations besides making sure the art is safely hung and will not impede work in the public workplace. Gallery exhibits are managed with no financial support from the County. All the staffing, hardware, and awards are provided by the Arts Council. The County does provide a small storage area where necessary supplies can be safely stored between shows.
The General Services Agency (GSA) staff had periodically installed artwork in the Hall of Administration (HOA) during the 1990s, but with budget cuts this function was eventually turned over to the Arts Council in 2001. It organized exhibits on an ad hoc basis on the Main Plaza floor for several years, and then began to stage regular exhibits about 2007. In 2007 these exhibits expanded to two floors with the arrival of a flood of artwork for one show. The art shows became more frequent; more artists participated; prize money was awarded and the exhibits kept expanding. Through negotiations with GSA the formal gallery area was expanded to include the upper three floors of the HOA and broadened to include the entry-ways and a side hallway by the Assessor’s Office. The total available exhibition space is approximately 400 linear feet of wall space. This makes the Atrium Gallery one (if not the largest) galleries in the County. While the County provided the space, the Council provided what else was needed to create the Gallery.
The artwork has enhanced the work environment in the HOA. The employees and public greatly appreciate the artwork and express their concerns if there are blank walls for more than a day. Newly weds often pose for their wedding pictures in front of the art on walls near the wedding chapel. When a piece of artwork falls from the wall (almost always because the artist did not properly rig it) security guards or employees commonly secure the piece at their desks and call the Gallery Coordinator to alert him to the problem.
Current Practices – Since 2012 we have been programming two distinct exhibit calendars – usually a series of 7 competitive shows on the first two floors and 7 curated shows on the upper (4th) floor. The “Employee Art Show” is our 15th show each year and fills all three floors. The shows fit into eight 6-7 week time slots. All shows come down and go up on a hectic Wednesday at the end of an exhibition period. While there are 7 competitive art shows a year, typically there is one scholarship competition for senior high school art students from around the County. The Council co-sponsors this show with a local arts organization (Focus on the Masters).
The competitive shows offer prize money for the top three pieces, and honorable mentions receive free entries into a future competitive show. Jurying of work for the shows is free, but a nominal charge of several dollars may be charged to cover the cost of the on-line submission system. Entry fees are only charged for the work juried into the competitive shows. Work selected for curated shows is not charged. Discounts on entry fees and sales commissions are offered to Art Council members.
Mission Statement – The mission of the gallery is to provide a wide array of visual arts from diverse artists for the community’s enjoyment and education and the artists’ benefit; while coexisting within an active public workplace. New and emerging artists are particularly welcomed as are those who may be returning to their art. Experimentation is encouraged and flexibility is the operative approach to working with exhibiting artists.
In keeping with this mission, virtually all of the art exhibits allow artwork from artists in Ventura, Santa Barbara and Los Angeles Counties. In doing so we enrich the variety of the shows, and more importantly, demonstrate that local artists are equal to their artist peers in neighboring counties. The Gallery has provided an important stepping-stone for individuals testing their abilities as new or returning artists. Virtually all the shows are open to non-members of the Arts Council. The Gallery welcomes new participants and they regularly enter the shows.
We rarely limit entries to one medium, e.g. oil painting. Therefore, exhibits normally include photographs, oil paintings, stone sculpture, watercolors, fabric arts, assemblage, etc. Any medium that can be wall-hung or free-standing is typically eligible so long as the work is in keeping with the theme of the show. Free-standing work on the upper floor in curated shows is very limited due to space limitations. However, on the main floor there are three large pedestals on which to display work, with the ability to cover small work on these pedestals with Lucite cubes. There is limited space for free-standing work on the floor as well.
CLICK HERE to email the Gallery Coordinator with any questions or suggestions.