Tissue paper sewing patterns, a teacher's old transparency, a plastic toy horse, a tuna can. It sounds like a pile of junk, but to Boise artist Pam McKnight, the objects helped inspire her unique assemblage High Horse.
"I have collected miniatures, including those broken or discarded since I was a little girl," said McKnight.
A lifelong artist and an elementary school art teacher, McKnight's work evolved into assemblages three years ago after she retired. Her unusual found-objects sculptures can be seen along with nine other local artists' works through this First Thursday at Gypsy Gallery's Annual Holiday Art Show.
This exhibition marks the eighth year of Gypsy Gallery, a small collective of artists who show their work together four times a year, each time at a different venue. Depending on what space is available, the Gypsy artists are open to manipulating any location into an exhibition hall explained Marianne Konvalinka, Gypsy Gallery founder.
Endearingly referred to as the "Queen Gypsy" by her cohorts, Konvalinka envisioned a way that she and other artists could gain more exposure and experience outside the confines of the traditional art gallery world.
"Since our first show in the basement of the Mode Building in December of 2003, we've always kept membership at anywhere from eight to 10 artists, representing a variety of media and subject matter," Konvalinka said.
Currently, the Gypsy artists include Konvalinka and McKnight as well as Zella Bardsley, Miriam Woito, Kevin Flynn, Cherry Woodbury, Michael Falvey, Jenifer Gilliland and Kristy Albrecht.
In the early days, Gypsy Gallery posted calls to artists in Boise Weekly or at Boise Blue Art Supply, but the group's popularity and exposure has somewhat eliminated those needs. As artists occasionally leave the group, there are many more interested in joining.
Gypsy Gallery doesn't profit from membership fees, nor does it take any commission from artist sales, something that appeals to Bardsley, who joined the group three years ago.
"I've been a full-time artist for 20 years and show my work at 12 different galleries. I won't sign an exclusivity agreement with any art dealer or gallery, as I'd never be able to make it financially if I did," said Bardsley.
This lack of the middle man not only gives the artists more control, but allows for the work to be more affordable for buyers.
From their Facebook page to the selection of new artists into the group, the Gypsies are a true cooperative, with a focus on quality.
“We don’t really have a mission statement, but our priorities are working with artists who strive for excellence in their art, who are motivated and who are extremely organized,” says Konvalinka. “It’s easier to maintain these ideals with a smaller group, which is why we limit the maximum Gypsies at any time to 10.”
Occasionally the venue is large enough to accommodate guest artists, which is the case this time at the former Sleep With Grace space.
"It's a great way for newer artists to get a feel for art fairs and learn how to better showcase their work in a supportive environment," said Bardsley.
The fee for a guest artist to participate in a Gypsy Gallery show is minimal: just $30.
“The Gypsy artists are such a good group of people to work with,” says McKnight. “It’s so expensive to rent a permanent gallery and the philosophy of creating an event rather than a static shop just makes so much more sense, for the artists involved and the public.”