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Group Show at Cuesta's Harold J. Miossi Gallery tests the limits of the art world 

There's the business of making art, and then there's the business of selling art. Los Angeles-based artist Brandy Eve Allen is more interested in the former, but an artist's gotta hustle too.

"How do we reconcile that relationship that's faced against us?" Allen said. "It goes against the rebel nature of artists."

click to enlarge SELF-AWARE Brandy Eve Allen's Self Portraits (above and right) explore the artist's identity, emotional and mental states, and the expectations of the female experience. - PHOTOS COURTESY OF BRANDY EVE ALLEN
  • Photos Courtesy Of Brandy Eve Allen
  • SELF-AWARE Brandy Eve Allen's Self Portraits (above and right) explore the artist's identity, emotional and mental states, and the expectations of the female experience.

Allen's work—along with the art of Norelle Foster, Ida Islas, Aliza Shields, Cat Marcone, Zstu Zstu, and Gigi Petit—is on display at Cuesta College's Harold J. Miossi Gallery in San Luis Obispo as the exhibit titled Group Show starting June 27.

Even the name of the exhibit is a winking nod to the trappings of the art gallery world, where artists create something and then are forced to come up with the perfect, meaningful, creative, and whimsical name for a piece of art or an entire show. According to Allen, the show's curator, Group Show is a photo commentary on the structures and mechanisms that are set up in the gallery world.

"A lot of this is trying to take away some of the frills, like coming up with a name," Allen said. "Why does the artistic process stop at the making of the art?"

Allen's preferred media are photography and performance art. Her self-portraits include a series of black and white photos of the artist fully and partially clothed, as well as naked in a bathtub, ranging from completely serious to utterly hysterical. In her artist's statement, Allen wrote that her work explores her identity, emotional and mental states, and the expectations of the female experience.

click to enlarge PHOTOS COURTESY OF BRANDY EVE ALLEN
  • Photos Courtesy Of Brandy Eve Allen

While Allen's work is meant to be somewhat confrontational, her intention is to connect with others.

"Instead of turning my camera on the outside, I turn it inside," Allen said. "It's been sort of like a photo diary. Pictures allow more of an ambiguity, a humanness, than words."

So what then is the role of the artist if not to sell art? To create, to perform, to ask, "Why?"

"Performance is very human," Allen said. "We're always performing unless we're alone or with those select few. We're here to question things."

Allen acknowledged that there are ways to work within the art world toward stereotypical success, but like the proverbial Goldilocks, none of them feel quite right to her.

click to enlarge DREAMLIKE Norelle Foster, the artist behind the Infrared series, develops all of her own photos and takes on a mythological ethos in her work. - PHOTO COURTESY OF NORELLE FOSTER
  • Photo Courtesy Of Norelle Foster
  • DREAMLIKE Norelle Foster, the artist behind the Infrared series, develops all of her own photos and takes on a mythological ethos in her work.

"There are formulas, and I could subscribe to those formulas," Allen said. "But they feel inauthentic to me. What does the shy artist do? How does a talented loner get discovered?"

Allen said that right now, for better or worse, both social currency and social media followings weigh heavily in the outcome of an artist's success.

"People are really susceptible to what they're being told is good, instead of discovering it for themselves." Δ

Arts Writer Ryah Cooley is a working writer. Contact her at rcooley@newtimesslo.com.

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