Friday, December 28, 2012

The Top Ten Year In Review

The other day, Lindsay, Chris, Jenny and I were reflecting on the past year and we realized that somehow, with all of things that are currently going on, we kind of lost track of all of the things that had already happened. A person I admire once joked to a friend "you are making so many things that you don't even know when you've made something". In order to really remember 2012, I began a list of ten things that we are especially proud of this year.

1. Light Grey Art Lab, The Place


A little over a year ago, Paper Bicycle was looking for a new space. We toured a number of places and we liked a few of them for different reasons, but when we walked into the space that is now Light Grey Art Lab, it was a little different. There, despite needing some work, it had the potential to become so many things. Even then we couldn’t imagine everything that it is now, but there was something in this place that inspired care and effort.
A lot of work went into making the space into what it is today, and we owe so many people for their help. We especially need to thank Linda and Victor Nohl, Jon Hajny, Myra Andreasson and Jesse Riggle for dedicating a lot of hard work, time and resources into beautifying the gallery.

2. Light Grey’s First Opening: Patterns & People

People + Patterns: Grand Opening

Our first opening was a celebration of what Light Grey Art Lab was to become. The artists featured–Nic Skrade, Andres Guzman, Jesse Riggle, Lindsay Nohl, Chris Hajny, Alyssa Nassner and me (Francesca Buchko) are local to Minneapolis and are not only talented, but have a past involved with other facets of creative life–teaching, lecturing and sharing their talents. We wanted Light Grey to be about creative collaboration, and so our first show embodied that.
The turnout was phenomenal–better than we could have ever imagined! We are so grateful for everyone that came over to show his or her support. It was because of these people that we knew what we were doing was going to be good.

3. Pokémon: Battle Royale


The Pokémon: Battle Royale show, curated by Alyssa Nassner and Bryan Ische, helped us realize our potential to become a gallery for large group shows. There was perpetual enthusiasm for the show, from the call for art to the opening reception. Though so much of organizing and running the show was a learning experience, it really helped shape the way our large group shows are put together now.
Thanks to the rigorous support of the internet’s Pokémon fans, artists and guests to the gallery; without them none of this would be possible!

4. The Surtex and Stationery Show NYC Trip

NYC Surtex/NSS Workshop

Every year, Paper Bicycle makes a trip to NYC to attend the Surtex and Stationery shows. Product design is what we love and what we do, and through Light Grey Art Lab, we were able to share our knowledge of the trade show, trend shopping and spend a little time enjoying the sights, food and fun of New York.
We were privileged with a hard-working and astute group of twelve artists. Working with these individuals helped shape Light Grey’s workshop component. Learning and creating is an important part of Light Grey Art Lab's mission, but so is making friends! We’re happy to still be in contact with many of the artists that took part in this trip.

5. Hiring a Gallery Manager

Fairytales & Florals Opening Reception

As Light Grey very quickly grew, it became clear that we were going to need more than just a little help. We needed somebody who understood how to run a gallery–something we were still just figuring out. We also needed somebody who could rise to the challenge of organizing Light Grey Art Lab while  still loving it like the small baby infant that it was.  Jenny Bookler is the answer to our wishes. We are continually impressed by her experience in coordinating shows and her steadfast, hard-working nature. She's also patient and kind–we couldn't ask for a better gallery manager.

6. Meg Hunt’s Illustration Bootcamp

Illustration Bootcamp with Meg Hunt

In June we were privileged to have the ridiculously talented Meg Hunt as a guest teacher. The result was Illustration Bootcamp, a weekend devoted to developing an illustration practice. 18 creatives participated and became a steadfast, supportive group of art friends. It was an honor getting to know Meg, too; it’s always a delight to find that the person behind the beautiful art is intelligent and charming!    

This is where sorting events down to ten slots became a little more difficult. Between the beginning and now, Light Grey has hosted nine gallery shows and numerous workshops, lectures and classes, and every single one of them has made this experience full and rewarding. 
Every show has been unique, varying in size and subject. What I love most about all of the shows, though, is that each has displayed outstanding artwork through the care and talent of the artists and organizers involved.
In May, Bill Rebholz and Llew Mejia presented Street Fortunate; in June Tuesday Bassen curated The Garden of Earthly Delights, July featured Fairytales & Florals, curated by Teagan White, August held Adam Hoppus's and Chris Schon’s Night of the Exquisite Corpse and in September Lindsay Nohl curated the Expletive Show. Thoroughout these, Light Grey has developed methods of organizing and working with artists.

8. Growing–The Workshops

Hand Done Type: Ink and Brush Series

As much as Light Grey was intended to be a space to showcase artwork, it was intended to be a space to encourage learning and growth of creative practice. It isn’t limited to painting and drawing. We adore the painting sessions, pen-and-ink workshops (headed by phenomenally talented folks like Andres Guzman and Llew Mejia), watercolor and sketching workshops, but we’ve also held tea-tastings with Verdant Tea’s David and Lily Duckler and Brandon Lovejoy, lectures about the history of Punk Rock and history of the F-word (by Ollie Stench and Deanna Larsen, respectively), picture book story-telling workshops with Nancy Carlson, terrarium-building with Lindsay Nohl and more.
Part of the experience of being involved at Light Grey has been witnessing these amazing individuals share the things they love with us. 

9. The Tarot, Mystics & Occult Show and The Girls: Fact or Fiction Show

See photos of the Tarot Show here and the Girls Show here!

These two shows were phenomenal and could use numbered slots of their own, but I’ve grouped them together because both of them introduced a new component to the list of things we’d always wanted to make: a printed product.
The Light Grey Tarot Deck began production early after the Pokémon: Battle Royale show. By the time the decks officially arrived in October we were psyched: we had completed our first beautifully printed creation. A lot of work went into making the limited run, and it is thanks to the artists, design work by Lindsay, the Light Grey team and designer Kelsey Dusenka that we have a deck that we are very proud to display.
The next challenge (which began as we were finishing the Light Grey deck) was to create a book. It is definitely something I have always wanted to be a part of, so it was an honor to be involved in the production of the Girls: Fact or Fiction book with so many really talented artists. The Light Grey staff put in extra hours editing and designing, making the show’s opening deadline in time to showcase the artwork in our second printed creation.
The shows themselves were also a blast! We were thrilled to have professional Tarot readers Corrine Kenner and Chuck Boe at the Occult show. The support for the Girls Show, both online and in person has made us really excited to continue making large group shows a part of our repertoire!

10. Our Community

December Light Grey Art Lab Lock-In

Light Grey Art Lab needs something else that our team can't fabricate. We love making things and organizing things and we always will, but it’s because of everybody involved that it is worth it. Light Grey is a group effort, and the more people involved the more diverse and enriching it becomes.
This past December we held community get-togethers–the Light Grey Lock-In and the (third annual) Holiday Cookie Party. With our online community we hosted “Make My Holiday” art swap. Things like these are rooted in our main objective: bringing creative people together.

I believe that everybody is creative. Painting is creative, and so is cooking. Building things, sewing things, even thinking things is creative. Problem-solving is creative. I believe that by our nature we are creative. It is an honor to be a part of Light Grey Art Lab, a place that encourages that creativity, and to encounter so many people who come to Light Grey to share what they’ve made.

Cheers, 2012! 2013, we're ready for you!


  1. I'm so proud of you guys! My heart is bursting!!

    1. Thanks Ulana! That means a lot to us! :D
      Excited to see what happens next year!

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