Public Functionary is an award-winning contemporary art gallery in Minneapolis, MN that has shown artists including Dzine, Patrick Martinez, Sougwen Chung, Michael Cina and more. Far from a typical white wall gallery, Public Functionary focuses on high-level exhibit design, transforming its space completely for each new show. Walls have been painted neon, playground swings have been installed in the middle of the gallery, and red shag carpeting has even covered the walls. The gallery’s mission is to create an ever-evolving, context-driven and accessible approach to contemporary art for the community and also to give artists a platform to present their art in a big, unique way. This time on D.A.T.E. Hub, we chat with PF’s curator, Tricia Khutoretsky to learn more about the space, its vision and what she looks for in artists.
What’s the concept behind Public Functionary?
A contemporary art gallery and social space that challenges pre-existing expectations of an art space. For several reasons… one to think beyond past gallery paradigms that can lead to exclusive and elitist stigmas, and two… to respond more thoughtfully to the way in which audiences today might want to experience, enjoy and understand contemporary art.
In an international landscape, how does PF fit in?
We’re in Minneapolis so while our first couple years are likely going to be spent establishing our place in the local community, we hope that the space and our approach to presenting art will inspire people from all over the world to think bigger about how art can engage with the public.
What sort of audience does PF attract?
One that is always evolving and continuing to diversify. While we know that our audience includes those who are art enthusiasts, creatives, young entrepreneurs and civic-minded people, we also see new faces with every exhibit and event. We know our audience is eclectic and we hope to grow that into a more definable demographic in the next couple years.
As a curator, what do you look for in artists?
Honestly, I generally connect with the artist themselves often more than their work at first. I look for artists with a compelling story or point of view, a unique personality or background. All of this contributes to intriguing exhibitions. I look for a combination of that, and well-executed, high quality work. Because Public Functionary is about creating connections between the artist and the viewer, I often let my intuition lead me in various directions when it comes to selecting various artists. I don’t ever want Public Functionary to be a reflection of simply my taste in art, because the result would be an audience of people who think like I do. I’m inclined towards different points of view, and challenging what is expected. It involves a lot of risk taking, but in the end I feel like I’m representing a broader range of artists and perspectives, which is really important to me as a curator.
How do you prefer artists to present their work to you for consideration?
Via email. With an updated website/portfolio link and a statement that explains why PF is a fit for their work. Seems simple, but you’d be surprised how many artists don’t take the time to articulate why they are even interested in showing at your space.