Morgana Nagorski, Palais Orleans Gallery Complex
I tend to blog about Second Life art and artists, after all this is an SL art blog. This time I thought it would be interesting to explore the vital, yet often overlooked, roles of gallery owners and curators. Without these diligent people promoting SL artists we would not get to see the impressive range of art that we do today. These quiet achievers offer vital services - artists gain much needed exposure and SL residents gain the joy of seeing extraordinary artworks.
To find out more I approached Morgana Nagorski, a tireless champion of the arts within Second Life. Not only does she create quality 2D artworks herself, she's the owner and curator of the highly respected and very modern Palais Orleans Gallery Complex.
I asked Morgana about her art space, how she selects and coordinates the frequently changing exhibitions and some of the challenges she faces as an SL art gallery owner and curator.
Please note: I cleaned up our typos to make this interview easier for you to follow :)
An artistic Aussie avi
Cirque ~ The Big Top by Morgana
Carmsie: Hi Morgana, thanks for chatting with me today. Let's start at the very beginning. You obviously have a passion for art. Can you tell me a bit about your real life and SL art background?
Morgana: Hi Carmsie. Well, in real life I live in Perth, Western Australia. I was born and bred here. I've always dabbled in some form of art or craft, whatever my current passion was - silver jewellery, leather work, design classes, painting, ceramics or mosaics . . . whatever.
I came to SL in October 2006 and started taking photos as soon as my hair and skin were sorted out. Then, as many do, I got involved with a guy so I sort of let art go for a bit.
After about a year and a half of dancing ourselves to death I entered and won a photo competition run by Kelly Yap. The prize was a spot in an upcoming exhibition and the rest, as they say, is history.
It all started as a gift!
Carmsie: So from artist to gallery owner - that's quite a leap. What made you decide to establish an art gallery in Second Life?
Morgana: Actually I probably never would have. I'd worked as curator in three galleries but hadn't considered opening one myself. I guess the tier was an inhibiting factor. My many-primmed Bali property was about all I could afford.
But after the last of the exhibitions I curated at the (then called) Palais Orleans Art Studio and Design, the time-poor owner decided she would give it to me, well it's established name anyway. I thought about it for a while and then accepted. I shifted the gallery to its current location...and there you are...in February, 2012 I became the official owner of Palais Orleans.
The galleries - purpose built for best results
Carmsie: A gift? That's certainly an interesting way to get started in gallery ownership. *laughs* So now that you've been involved with Palais Orleans for over a year, what do you think of your 'gift'? What are the gallery's strengths?
Morgana: Well visually I think it's beautiful. It has four separate galleries that surround a central courtyard. I had these purpose-built in November last year by the wonderful Zandy Oh. I had a lot of ideas and we worked collaboratively. Zandy brought great skill and creativity to the build.
Morgana: We deliberately designed the galleries to have clean lines and soft, subtle colours. It's modern, classy and to me it has an Aussie feel. YAY! Most importantly, the galleries don't fight with the art. Complicated builds with a mish mash of styles and conflicting textures are all too prevalent in SL and, in my opinion, are not suitable places to display art.
An intermingled, themed approach
Morgana: Conceptually, before the new complex opened, there was only one building where I hosted guest artists. Duets, if you will. I would invite 2 artists to work on a theme of their choice and hang their pieces intermingled - not separated into this space for this artists and that space for the other. This approach is not common in SL, yet it adds interest and works very well.
Now that I have more galleries for exhibitions, I continue to use Gallery 1 for bi-monthly Duets and the others for alternative shows.
Carmsie: It's great to have a purpose built property *looks around* and it certainly has a contemporary elegance, but any art gallery is only as good as the artists it represents. When choosing the artists for your venue, are there any requirements that are integral to your selection process?
Morgana: Taste and intelligence play a part...kidding. Well sort of. All of the art and photography displayed here is 2D and so far I've been choosing artists that appeal to me. I look for quality, originality and works that have their origins in SL. I do not display any real life art here.
I tend to favour 'themes' because they give the exhibitions a sense of cohesion. The Duet artists choose their own themes, but the Unified Heart 2012 and 2013 exhibits have a set theme - the artists' choice of lyrics from any Leonard Cohen song. Also, now that I have several galleries, I show more of my own work which I'd had to neglect during the gallery's establishment.
Carmsie: I see ... and once you've selected an artist or artists are they involved with you in planning their exhibition?
Morgana: Not really. As owner/curator I see it as my responsibility to ensure that the gallery has a consistent, professional appearance; that the works are displayed well and that our patrons get the best possible viewing experience. So I tend to do the 'hanging'.
Spreading the news
Carmsie: You just touched on the viewing public and that happens to be the topic of my next question. As the curator how do you keep your patrons informed and attract new people to upcoming exhibits?
Morgana: I use a range of methods. In the days leading up to an opening and periodically throughout a show I send notices via our in world Palais Orleans Gallery group. (There are group joiners in each gallery at the complex.) I also send these notices to around 20 other SL art-related groups. At the same time I distribute a “press package” to relevant bloggers and contact some of them a week before a show opens to offer a private tour. I hope to increase my number of blogger contacts.
Morgana: For openings I have two events at 6PM on a Saturday and 10AM on a Sunday. Even though this is hard for me and means staying up to stupid o'clock, it caters to more of the world. Oh yes, I also put an entry in the SL events listing, post on Flickr and Facebook and the gallery is now listed in SL's Destination Guide.
The keys to success
Carmsie: Sheesh Morgana, I'm exhausted just reading that list! It's a lot of work but I guess that's what it takes to ensure people are well informed. We've covered a lot of ground so far - the artists, the gallery, promotions. Given all that, is there one thing that you feel is key to Palais Orleans’ success?
Morgana: I don't really know how successful we are in relation to others. It's hard to judge. What I do know is that the artists and I are happy with the turnouts and proud of the shows - that's what counts. But if we are considered successful, then I would say the calibre of the artists and bloody hard work has a lot to do with it, along with attention to detail and planning in advance. I'm committed to making sure everything runs smoothly.
Carmsie: You're justifiably proud Morgana. It's a great gallery and it's good to hear that you're organised. There are quite a few in SL who could learn from you, including myself. *laugh* Before I go, I was wondering what exhibitions you have coming up in the next few months?
Morgana: Oh, there's lots planned and it's very exciting.
The Duets continue, changing every 2 months
Carmsie: Looks like a great line up. You'll be busy with all those exhibitions looming. Morgana, thanks so much for meeting with me and explaining the life of an SL art gallery owner. I've learned a lot today. I must say I hadn't appreciated how much work was involved, but when I look around the Palais Orleans Gallery Complex the results are clear to see.
Morgana: Yes, it takes time and effort but it's well worth it. I take the job seriously because I'm passionate about my gallery, as well as creating and promoting art in Second Life. Of course I get a lot out of it too - it's fun and very rewarding.