Recently, photography graduate student Jennifer Spitzer interview ROY’s director Ken Aschliman for her current business course.
Jennifer Spitzer: Seeing that the gallery is about 25 years old, how did the nonprofit gallery get started and have there been any major changes in the gallery’s focus since its early conceptions?
Ken Aschliman: ROY was founded in the fledgling Short North Arts District in 1988. ROY has been an anchoring presence and has had a central role in transforming the district into the cultural capital of Columbus. In the past 10 years especially, our gallery has emerged nationally as a voice for contemporary art by emerging artists.
JS: You have an amazing list of supporters – from foundations, granting organizations, corporations to individual donors. Do you take any form of support or do you choose those that come to you that have similar visions and missions? Or is it a combination of both?
KA: We don’t discriminate! As long as a donor is interested in supporting us, we are interested in their support. Our diverse business strategy enables us to better support our emerging artists. Your question does bring up a good point: we would never let a donor interfere with our mission of showcasing emerging artists.
JS: How often do you have exhibitions?
KA: We have a new exhibition, featuring 2 or 3 artists, each month. We host our Small Works Exhibition for members each December and always partner with a local arts organization for a special exhibition one month each year. In addition, we host an annual satellite exhibition called ImageOHIO for photo, video and digital artists in Ohio.
JS: What is the committee looking for when selecting a new artist body of work for the gallery? Or do the submissions received guide the shows for the year?
KA: We ask our jurors to select the artists they deem most deserving of an exhibition, and this is what separates our gallery from most. We don’t necessarily ask our jurors to choose artists that will sell in our area. We love selling work, but we place education (both for the public and for the artists) as our top priority.
JS: How far in advance do you schedule a season? I see on your site that you have already completed your 2015 exhibition schedule; when will you start seeking calls for entry for your 2016 season?
KA: We plan our exhibition schedule a year in advance. Every May we release our call for entries for the next calendar year. Entries are due in early June, jurying lasts through July, and we notify artists of acceptance in August.
JS: Does your selection committee change from year to year?
KA: Yes, we work to get jurors from a variety of arts backgrounds (artists, instructors, curators, critics and arts administrators) to guarantee a diverse selection of artists from year to year.
JS: How many artists work do you look at compared to how many you accept?
KA: Last year we had 297 entries for 22 exhibition slots.
JS: You represent a lot of different mediums of art, is there anything that you are not looking for? Do you have a certain demographic for the galleries art focus?
KA: We take pride in showing a spectrum of what’s happening among emerging artists. This runs from more traditional painting, drawing and sculpture to installation, performance, interactive work and happenings.
JS: What is the art collector community like in this area? Can you give me an idea of what kinds of work people are drawn to?
KA: In general, collectors in Columbus have more traditional taste. Two-dimensional, representational work seems to sell best.
JS: I saw that you have monthly artist talks – how do you select an artist for these talks? Or will they always be from the exhibiting artist work being shown?
KA: Our monthly artists’ talks always feature the exhibiting artists. We host these talks to educate the public on the artists’ concepts and art-making techniques, to allow collectors a chance to meet the artists, and to increase exposure for our artists.
JS: If I wanted to become a member, is that an issue being an out of state resident? Is there a benefit if I am not a local to the community?
KA: As an artist, the main incentives for membership are free entry fees and promotion. Members get free entry in our annual exhibition season competition and ImageOHIO, guaranteed inclusion in our Small Works Exhibition, and promotion on our website.
JS: Do you have any advice for emerging artists trying to break in to the fine art field?
KA: Be persistent.