The Carrack turns Two
5 Questions with the Co-founder and Gallery Director, Laura Ritchie
Full disclosure, the Clarion Content is an unabashed fan of The Carrack and Ritchie. [And we collaborate with The Carrack when and where we can.]
Herein is simply a faithful transcription of her answers to five of your editor’s queries on the week of The Carrack’s 2nd Anniversary Celebration.
I wouldn’t imagine that Ritchie would run a Marine Infantry platoon, or for that matter an orphanage, in all that different a manner than she runs her gallery. Her comely exterior belies an inner steel and determination that has allowed The Carrack to reach year two as a zero-commission, donation supported, artist curated space with a unique mandate co-created and now dictated by Ritchie.
Q: What did you hope for when The Carrack opened and how is where you are now different from that?
A: At the beginning I was hoping for experience running an art space. I was thrilled about John’s [co-founder John Wendelbo, now in New Mexico] idea for a zero-commission, donation-run gallery. I just wanted to be here and around the art and artists oef Durham.
Where I am now, it is a complete way of life, centered around the space and the community that is forming within it.
[She paused before continuing.]
I am learning from the space, the environment every day.
Every day is an adventure.
Q: As the Carrack is turning two this week, what were the differences between year one and year two?
A: I think in our second year, especially since the beginning of 2013, we are serving the artists better. We have learned what they need from us in order to get the most from this experience. The Carrack is still, and always will be, about openness and fluidity, but we are more organized and more structured now. By jurying submissions this year we have really helped the artists understand what a good show requires, which in turn brings a higher quality of work to the gallery.
Unfortunately, we can’t say “Yes!” to everyone, but that’s why we have these community shows. [The Carrack 2nd anniversary is being celebrated with a Community Art Show this week. More than eighty pieces were submitted by the local art community.]
Q: What are you looking to accomplish heading into year three?
A: I want to see The Carrack become sustainable in a way that it is not dependent on any one person. I want to be here, but a strong business has to be able to outlive one person, even the founder.
John’s departure underlined that for me. I always thought he’d be here.
Now, the most important thing to me is to set-up a self-sustaining model to keep this space running.
Q: How do you view The Carrack’s place in Durham’s art community and how do you hope to see that evolve?
A: I like what we are doing. I want us to continue to be a birthplace, an incubator for new ideas. I want to see ideas spread [through and across the community]. I want us to be a spot where [artists and ideas] can cross-pollinate. I want this to continue to be a space for idea sharing. A safe space. That is really important to me. I want that to be a constant.
Q: What about the 26 story building going in down the block?
A: I think that, like a lot of people in Durham, I am nervous about the way that is going to change things…but I am happy to see the outside interest in Durham. I hope they [the new owners presumably] explore that interest responsibly in regards to the community that has already been built.
Ritchie is a graduate of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. She has been part of The Carrack since its inception with Co-founder, John Wendelbo. Wendelbo’s recent departure has left Ritchie as the solo operator of a burgeoning gallery space with a unique model: zero commission, artist-centric, donation based, community-oriented, with very short exhibits that encourage artists’ derring-do and offer panoramic creative freedom.
The Carrack is hosting a Community Art Show this week with scads of exciting events. The Clarion Content’s friends and partners, filmmakers Warner & Co., will be on-hand Thursday night with a cast of poets performing live spoken word poetry. They will be also showing the trailer for their forthcoming documentary film, “Truth Underground.” The Carrack will be celebrating their 2nd anniversary with a Community Show reception on Saturday, June 15 from 6:00 – 10:00 pm with live music and food from LOAF Bakery. The exhibit features work from 45 local artists.
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