Girls' Club Collection is going on an extended road show. March 2017 will see the Broward County arts institution shutter its original downtown Fort Lauderdale location and embark on a program of pop-up performances, collaborations, temporary exhibitions, and farther-ranging outreach.
For people concerned with gender representation in the South Florida artists community, this is big news. Girls' Club is the only regional institution dedicated to supporting local women in the arts, and although the artists in its network reside in several counties, the physical hub has always been in Broward County. For the next several months at least, Girls' Club will have a broader footprint with an increased Miami presence. Ultimately, the foundation will settle into a new Broward County space after attaining greater visibility along the journey.
“What we’ve always done at Girls' Club is connect with local artists — not only those in the collection, but others around South Florida,” gallery director Sarah Michelle Rupert says. “Going forward, we’re getting out of the Fort Lauderdale bubble and engaging with new audiences and community members."
Rupert says that along with thinking more nomadically, the foundation is also adopting more multidisciplinary parameters in the projects it supports. “We’re challenging ourselves to think of art as bigger than its spaces.”
The foundation’s new performance series, Offsite, will be a multidisciplinary, multilocation effort that truly extends beyond the traditional “white box” gallery space. The four artists selected for Offsite are creating new works that are visually grounded but encompass other disciplines.
“Performance is such a way of life in South Florida. We see their visual artwork taking those corners and branching out not just to performance-based art but also in collaboration with other artists," Rupert says.
The first Offsite event, March 9, will be presented at Fort Lauderdale Historical Society — right on the river, which is one of the main inspirations for the performance. It's titled Along the Shadow of the River. Creator Christina Pettersson has put together performative portraits of historic female Fort Lauderdale figures. A “girl gang” of classical singers, musicians, comedians, performance artists, and cultural voices will tell biographical stories of the city’s female founders.
Pettersson has visual artworks in the Girls' Club's permanent collection but is known around the community for her “tropical Southern Gothic” performance mashups as much as her graphite drawings.
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Future Offsite installments will feature original multidisciplinary performances by video artist Jen Clay, author/visual artist Vanessa Garcia, and choreographer Jenny Larsson. Generous grants from Broward Cultural Division and Funding Arts Broward enabled Girls' Club Collection to commission new works from the collaborators and will support projects that are more ambitious than midcareer artists in South Florida typically have the means to pursue.
The closing of the current exhibition, "Pink Noise: Flexing the Frequency," will be the last event in an official Girls' Club Collection space until the foundation formally announces its next permanent address. However, the calendar beyond Offsite is busy; it includes a hands-on workshop at Pérez Art Museum Miami, in conjunction with Women’s History Month, as well as "Women Painting" — a large exhibition of collection works opening in May at Miami Dade College's Kendall Campus.
Girls' Club has always had a tripartite mission: to nurture female artists’ careers, serve as a resource for those studying art, and educate the community about women’s contributions to contemporary art. That mission will remain, but effective immediately, the scope of “community” is widening in multiple directions.