Little Bite Gallery; Big Interview

Little Bite Gallery, a local LA-based traveling gallery, recently had its first gallery opening, featuring Edmound Veyna, to resounding success. Gallery Director Alyssa Mannis granted me some time to check out the exhibition early and do an interview.

Briefly, whats your story, what's your background in art, how did you get involved in gallery work?

I took my first intentional photograph the summer before 9th grade; I remember the moment so well. It was a macro shot in which I admired hundreds of water beads dotting a large leaf on my high school campus. I thought to myself 'Wow. I wish I could always maintain the level of inner peace and understanding that I have with myself and my life as I do in this moment.' After processing the photo in the dark room, whenever I revisited it, I was reminded of that moment. Photography then became a huge part of my life. It gave me permission and freedom to be the more silent appreciator/observer that I always felt myself to be. It gave me a way to process the world on my own terms, and a way to discover and strengthen my perspective. My college app essay spoke about the time I learned that putting down the camera can sometimes be just as important as capturing a good moment. Deciphering those moments became really important to me.

I started college as a visual anthropology major, then switched to biology (I wanted to be a bio teacher growing up), then finally to art. Art was the only thing that made complete sense to me, and no sense at the same time. I wasn't drawn to art itself, it was always about using art as a way to understand the world. It was a process. That made so much sense to me. It still does. Everything has always been cinematic for me. I see things to music, I hear things to visuals....I believe in the romance of art, the sensuality of life and being alive. 

I studied sculpture and drawing in college. I didn't actually start making anything I liked until my last semester in school, go figure. I loved working with metal. I hope to return to that someday. I once made an almost fully-functional shower as one of my sculptures. I even set it up in the gallery with towels and a bath mat. But instead of hooking it up to water, I put a light bulb in place of a shower head. When it was time to critique the piece in class, they asked me if it had a title. I said "yes, it's called 'Friday Night' ". I had made it to pay dedication to the most beautiful shower I had taken, a couple of months prior. I had taken it with someone I loved, deeply, and I never wanted to forget that moment. I wouldn't admit that was my inspiration at the moment, and my class was just really confused and curious, but now I look back and I'm really happy I made something to honor a beautiful moment of my life. Now I just think that type of modesty is overrated; life is too short. 

Honestly, I really dislike the gallery setting. It seems so limited, exclusive, and confined. Art is life. Life is expansive and dynamic. Rooms are contained and static. Maybe that's just my claustrophobia speaking. If you look at the definition of "gallery" in the dictionary, several unconventional definitions pop up that I enjoy much more thoroughly:

noun, plural galleries.
1.a raised area, often having a stepped or sloping floor, in a theater, church, or other public building to accommodate spectators, exhibits, etc.
2.the uppermost of such areas in a theater, usually containing the cheapest seats.
3.the occupants of such an area in a theater.
4. the general public, especially when regarded as having popular or uncultivated tastes.
5.any group of spectators or observers, as at a golf match, a Congressional session, etc.
6.a room, series of rooms, or building devoted to the exhibition and often the sale of works of art.
7.a long covered area, narrow and open at one or both sides, used especially as a walk or corridor

I especially enjoy number 4. Uncultivated tastes--genius. 

What is your aim with Little Bite Gallery? Do you have a grasp on what you want to do/who you want to represent and why yet?

Little Bite Gallery is my way of making a mark on the world. I want to experience life as deeply as possible. I want to have as many meaningful conversations...meaningful many meaningful encounters with life as I possibly can. This is my way of doing so. Little Bite Gallery is by nature a dynamic and shifting entity, becoming whatever I need it to be in the moment for my development as a human. I don't operate like a typical gallery. I don't follow any mandated rules--if I do anything, it's because I want to and the other people I'm working with want to as well. Being in dialogue and collaborating with others is another aim of mine. It's not all about me. Life is so much bigger than a single person, and that can be a beautiful thing to witness and experience with the right people around you. Little Bite is about finding my people and building community around creativity and collaboration. It's about bringing people into closer contact with their purpose, and to be open to receiving that in return. It's about happiness, it's about sadness, it's about looking life in the eyes and not being fearful. It's about holding myself accountable and living the life I say I want to live, not just talking about it, and helping others do the same.

How did *Edmound's work catch your attention?

Edmound's work is such a beautiful representation of a vivid inner reality. I love that he actually manifests it. That takes something. So does building a body of work and not stopping. I think we all create expectations and images of how things should be or how we want them to be, and that's what I relate to when viewing Edmound's work. I've worked with Edmound for almost three years now at L.A. GOAL, and we've had the chance to develop a close relationship. We are very different people and yet I learn so much from my interactions with Edmound; I love that two very different people can offer one another so much wisdom and perspective. I'm drawn to Edmound's understanding of life and how different it is from mine. I'm drawn to his spellbinding use of color. 

How did the show go? What were some challenges you faced in setting it up?

The show went really well.  For me personally, having the show was a huge milestone in my life. Starting Little Bite has been the biggest challenge I've ever faced, and it's been a process over the past few years leading up to now. It's been a lot of self growth, a lot of isolation from things that weren't working for me, it's been a lot of self discovery. It has required lots of patience and growing has required me to believe in myself, and to get rid of anyone that didn't. Everyone always has something to say, so I definitely strengthened my intuition and self confidence while putting this show together. It has required I put a lot of myself out there, and I know that this is only the beginning. I have so much more of my ego to strip.

The biggest logistical challenge in setting up the show was moving the pieces from Edmound's place to the Design Center. There's something really gratifying though about facing a challenge like that and then persevering! It was totally worth it. The big pieces looked super rad hanging in that space, I thought.

Any idea as to what is next?

Little Bite will be working with artist Melissa Falco-Williams this spring. After that show, I'd like to take the gallery on the road and have an experience, preferably outside of Los Angeles. I'm very intentional in my use of the word "experience". That's what I want to create. More on that when the time is right.

But honestly, since the weight of the first show is now off, I want to resume living my life a little more presently. Whenever I relax and enjoy life, something always leads me to the next thing. In life, love, profession...always does the trick to just let go and be super present in my gratitude of being alive. I'm excited to explore that right now. I'm ready to fall in love, every day. I'm ready to relax into my creativity and let everything else fall into place.

ArtLex VoightArt