Studio Visit Book Vol. 1

How Art Spaces Shape Our Community – A Talk with Brea Gallery Director, Katie Chidester

Watch & Listen to this podcast Episode.

This week on Arts to Heart’s Podcast, our host Charuka Arora sits down with Brea Gallery’s director, Katie Chidester. Katie, who has been part of the arts community for about 25 years now, talks about Brea Gallery, what it does, and why it’s important to have such community-building initiatives.

Katie Chidester share with us why she became a creator and what it’s like working in a visual art space. Talking about being in the arts field, Katie acknowledges the hardships artists often have to face as they battle self-doubt and are expected to succeed without any help or support. For artists, it become necessary to have a community where they are not afraid to approach someone for guidance or collaboration. More people need to step up and take it upon themselves to create such an inclusive community where an artist, or a non-artist, feels welcome instead of being intimidated.

Brea Gallery was set up in 1980 in Brea, California, and during the last 38 years, it has constantly strived to provide contemporary art exhibitions for artists and non-artists alike. The gallery’s aim is to engage the community though aesthetic, educational, and intellectual experiences. Apart from its art exhibitions, Brea also offers artist lectures, workshops for all ages, a gift shop, and live art demonstrations.

To listen to more of this interesting conversation between Katie and our host Charuka, tune in to this week’s podcast.

TimestampSummary
00:00.96Introduction
02:23.16Katie’s background in performance and theater
03:09.81Becoming the gallery director
06:49.45Navigating the uncertainties of being an artist
09:45.37Discussion about obstacles and fears
11:15.37The expectation of not asking questions as an artist
15:11.68The challenges of making art under capitalism
16:13.89Differences between commercial and government-supported galleries
18:43.89The scope of the gallery’s exhibits and focus
20:14.25Importance of art spaces in the community
27:03.13Overcoming intimidation of art spaces as adults
30:36.10Lack of inclusivity in art spaces
39:19.83The importance of believers and advocates in the art industry.
42:01.40Aligning business with purpose and values.
44:01.90Promoting Brea Art Gallery and its open call for artists.
45:42.42Wrapping up the conversation.

**** – (): 00:00.96

**** – (): charukaarora

**** – (): Welcome to the podcast Katie it is my pleasure I’ve loved re calies work for far too long. We’ve been following your work and made in California um, every I think I’ve I’ve been following that call. You’ve been doing it for a long time I think.

**** – (): 00:01.39

**** – (): katie

**** – (): Thank you, Thank you so much for having me.

**** – (): 00:09.68

**** – (): katie

**** – (): Um, oh great. Um.

**** – (): 00:18.85

**** – (): charukaarora

**** – (): I seen it for the couple of years now

**** – (): 00:19.83

**** – (): katie

**** – (): Um, yes, are this year was our thirty eighth year so yeah yeah yeah, it’s great. It’s ah it’s a ah real flag trip big ah exhibit. So we’re very proud of it. Yeah.

**** – (): 00:24.65

**** – (): charukaarora

**** – (): Wow, that’s amazing tell me more about it. Amazing so Katie where do we start? tell me something about you who you are how to do get to free. Um. California odds how has this manifested in your life.

**** – (): 00:49.80

**** – (): katie

**** – (): Well I grew up here in Southern California and I um I’ve been doing I’ve been doing arts and in the arts community for about 25 years now um I have um I’ve studied I’ve gone to school I’ve moved away from Southern California I moved back.

**** – (): 00:56.33

**** – (): charukaarora

**** – (): Amazing.

**** – (): 01:06.73

**** – (): katie

**** – (): Um I got my Mfa and um I moved back to this region and um then I started working at the gallery and that was right before the pandemic had started so we yeah we sort of struggled through that and um, and.

**** – (): 01:23.96

**** – (): charukaarora

**** – (): Um, okay, okay.

**** – (): 01:26.45

**** – (): katie

**** – (): It’s been a fantastic experience I Love this facility I Love this place I Love this community so it feels like being a part of this gallery is ah is a really great way to give back to um the people in this area I felt compelled to um.

**** – (): 01:40.67

**** – (): charukaarora

**** – (): Um, yeah.

**** – (): 01:43.37

**** – (): katie

**** – (): To give something to this art community after I went and moved away went to school and then decided to come back. So yeah.

**** – (): 01:49.28

**** – (): charukaarora

**** – (): But got you? Um I asked this question a lot and I’ve always been interested and how this um this dynamic works because I often ask people who are into the um and you know religious How do I call it. You know. Are not artists. Let’s say anything but not artists how have they ever considered you know to pursue art as the causeure is what their experience has been and vice versa from what I know that you did um, pursue a affair so you did think of being an artist. How has your experience shaped. You.

**** – (): 02:23.16

**** – (): katie

**** – (): And.

**** – (): 02:27.88

**** – (): charukaarora

**** – (): Um, being the galleryary director one and what brought you on this side then.

**** – (): 02:35.69

**** – (): katie

**** – (): Um, I Think what really sort of drew me to being a creator was um, the idea of storytelling and wanting to create stories and share stories. And then also create platforms to lift others voices and their own stories up. So That’s really sort of what drew me to um, studying formally. Um I actually have a background in performance and um in Theater. So ah.

**** – (): 02:57.43

**** – (): charukaarora

**** – (): Um, Sam.

**** – (): 03:09.81

**** – (): charukaarora

**** – (): Um, oh wow.

**** – (): 03:11.00

**** – (): katie

**** – (): Yeah, So um, what I love about working in a visual art space is that you still maintain some of those aspects of um of live Performance. You’re still creating a narrative in which people are experiencing in a way that you have have sort of established for them. Um, and they’re still taking away something very personal and subjective from ah from the event. So um, that’s really through what drew me to this and I started working in this facility and I’ve I’ve I’ve worked my way up I’ve just became director in the last year and um.

**** – (): 03:45.67

**** – (): charukaarora

**** – (): Okay.

**** – (): 03:48.73

**** – (): katie

**** – (): What what beacon director ah of a space allows me to do is it sort of expand on some of those um ah expand on some of those those ideas in a larger way. So now um, you know that encompasses not just the exhibition itself but programming outreach to the community.

**** – (): 03:53.51

**** – (): charukaarora

**** – (): Um, yeah.

**** – (): 04:08.61

**** – (): katie

**** – (): Um, I get to be an advocate um to the community in terms of like what we’re having and um and then the voices that we’re able to then support so um, being in this position has allowed me to do what I love but on ah on a bigger scale I suppose so that makes sense.

**** – (): 04:24.99

**** – (): charukaarora

**** – (): Yeah, yeah, what do you think was the hardest thing while you were yourself pursuing. Ah you know performance Arts um I’m sure I think something that I truly um.

**** – (): 04:27.17

**** – (): katie

**** – (): Yeah.

**** – (): 04:38.60

**** – (): charukaarora

**** – (): Really helps me in navigating these 2 rules that I to being an artist and running this platform and business my own experiences as an artist really keep informing. Um how what direction I want to take let’s say with withouts too hards it is.

**** – (): 04:42.89

**** – (): katie

**** – (): So.

**** – (): 04:54.10

**** – (): charukaarora

**** – (): You know we all, it’s it becomes like a driving fuel because I can firsthand experience a lot of shortcomings and I feel like okay I really need this and that actually started with how arts do arts work I really needed this and I was like okay probably let me try something about this. Did you feel?? um. What did you feel were the hardest things for you while you were growing as a performance artist.

**** – (): 05:19.43

**** – (): katie

**** – (): Gosh That’s a really great question. Um I think ah you know that one of the hardest things is an as an artist is really feeling like what you’re doing matters right? and putting it out there matters and um, it obviously does. But sometimes when you get in your head.

**** – (): 05:34.86

**** – (): charukaarora

**** – (): Yeah, oh we all think like that. Yeah.

**** – (): 05:37.28

**** – (): katie

**** – (): And um, the the critic and the self-doubt Creep creeps in or that could be a that could be a huge obstacle. Um, and ah sometimes it’s hard I mean you mentioned um you mentioned having to really take the initiative.

**** – (): 05:43.71

**** – (): charukaarora

**** – (): Yeah.

**** – (): 05:56.35

**** – (): katie

**** – (): To make some of this stuff happen for you because you saw you saw a gap Um, ah in the industry and so you’ve you’ve stepped up and you’ve made that happen because you were able to recognize that being on the other side of it which I think is completely admirable and really amazing and.

**** – (): 05:59.56

**** – (): charukaarora

**** – (): Yeah.

**** – (): 06:09.10

**** – (): charukaarora

**** – (): Yeah, thank you.

**** – (): 06:15.64

**** – (): katie

**** – (): You’re right Sometimes as an artist you are ah you’re really just vulnerable to other institutions or forces out there. Um, and you’re waiting for somebody to take a chance on you? Um, and that can be incredibly.

**** – (): 06:26.18

**** – (): charukaarora

**** – (): Um, yeah.

**** – (): 06:29.36

**** – (): charukaarora

**** – (): Yeah.

**** – (): 06:35.18

**** – (): katie

**** – (): Defeating Sometimes yeah.

**** – (): 06:36.49

**** – (): charukaarora

**** – (): Yeah I think it’s also you know now when I think about this you know, um how I would use a metaphor for this situation something that just came to me is like if I’m sitting in the car and.

**** – (): 06:49.45

**** – (): katie

**** – (): Little.

**** – (): 06:52.62

**** – (): charukaarora

**** – (): UnkS a lot of folk and there’s like ah I can see the windshit but it’s it’s too unclear. It’s too unclear. Ah for me to drive now. So I’m waiting for someone. Ah, it’s foggy and it’s you know there’s so many tiny droplets that you know.

**** – (): 06:59.50

**** – (): katie

**** – (): Are.

**** – (): 07:10.10

**** – (): charukaarora

**** – (): Um I can’t see through the mirror or the screen. But anyone who’s on the outside really knows that I need to go? Let’s say my stop is um, Bri Gallery City I know that where I’m standing. It’s just you have I have to go straight down the road take a left then or right and you know I’ll reach that.

**** – (): 07:10.27

**** – (): katie

**** – (): A.

**** – (): 07:19.50

**** – (): katie

**** – (): Susan.

**** – (): 07:28.66

**** – (): charukaarora

**** – (): But everybody on the third view knows that but when I’m sitting I don’t know how do I I know how I have you know this? That’s so strange because I know I have to go straight left and all of that. But I do not have the content because I’m so unclear I don’t know how to take the next step.

**** – (): 07:29.80

**** – (): katie

**** – (): Get rid.

**** – (): 07:48.53

**** – (): charukaarora

**** – (): That’s how I feel sometimes just situation. That’s the.

**** – (): 07:50.53

**** – (): katie

**** – (): Um, that is a fantastic analogy. Absolutely I mean who can’t relate to you know acknowledging you know, sort of getting so so turned into yourself.

**** – (): 07:55.41

**** – (): charukaarora

**** – (): And.

**** – (): 08:03.59

**** – (): charukaarora

**** – (): No.

**** – (): 08:05.58

**** – (): katie

**** – (): And and and and not trusting and and realizing that these obstacles when everyone else in their like telescoped out view can see it was just so easy. It’s just all, you put it to is go forward.

**** – (): 08:15.37

**** – (): charukaarora

**** – (): Um, yeah, and you know what I’m going to ask my editor is going to put this right in front of the and episode. But you know that’s strange.

**** – (): 08:23.64

**** – (): katie

**** – (): So it’s great.

**** – (): 08:32.14

**** – (): charukaarora

**** – (): That changed because I feel like um and that does happen as you know I’d like to admit to it. There’s no shame in it. It’s so easy for me to look at someone else’s work their career and tell them. Okay, you know what you have to go there. Go straight to this to that and it will be done I can give you for sure sure this is you know.

**** – (): 08:50.24

**** – (): katie

**** – (): So.

**** – (): 08:51.79

**** – (): charukaarora

**** – (): It’s not It’s not such a hard um hard process. It’s really taking those steps but when I do apply those on myself I start I feel I feel like I’m again back in that seat now I have to drive slowly and there’s so many questions do I want to take a stop. Ah do I like. Ah, where I am am I wearing good clothes. It’s so self-conscious. It’s like or I don’t know yeah am I going to the right destination is Greek Albie will be like how I’ve come like there’s so many things that we think about and I feel like okay maybe if I stand here.

**** – (): 09:11.55

**** – (): katie

**** – (): Sure.

**** – (): 09:25.28

**** – (): charukaarora

**** – (): Somebody will find me think okay, you are stuck let me take sit. Let me you know why don’t you come and sit in my car and I’ll take you there which sure sadly doesn’t happen for a lot of us.

**** – (): 09:36.33

**** – (): katie

**** – (): Right? right? Like why doesn’t somebody come and wipe off this windshield right? and then yeah, exactly exactly that somebody could just make this easier for me than it would happen. Yeah I know for sure I think that that’s a very real. Um, ah.

**** – (): 09:40.58

**** – (): charukaarora

**** – (): Ah, even that’s not going to happen.

**** – (): 09:45.37

**** – (): charukaarora

**** – (): Yeah.

**** – (): 09:53.71

**** – (): katie

**** – (): Ah, very real sort of emotional tug right? Well I get too wrapped up in the and in all of the the obstacles and all I can think about is everything that could go wrong right? like all of the things that may happen if I start driving the car as opposed to you know.

**** – (): 10:04.98

**** – (): charukaarora

**** – (): Um, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, that’s true and it’s also like you know it’s like the roll stuck item I don’t remember the scifi I love I but.

**** – (): 10:11.18

**** – (): katie

**** – (): Just taking you just trusting dad. Absolutely.

**** – (): 10:21.52

**** – (): charukaarora

**** – (): And I was watching this movie like um so it’s like also I’m going so deep. Oh my god I’m noding out on this. Um, it’s like we’re all um All artists all of us are in the car in those cars and we’re all feeling stark and when we look at each other we be single keyards really there’s we really can’t find our way outside and feel like lixxi. And she’s sitting here even he’s sitting here even and we’re all together and only very few who you know find the colors to roll down the windows and you know Mark their way and they go ahead and you know it’s so psychological I feel the success of an artist is so psychological because.

**** – (): 10:42.36

**** – (): katie

**** – (): Great.

**** – (): 10:59.40

**** – (): charukaarora

**** – (): It really. The biggest thing is our own mind barriers which are not easy and I’m not saying that they are irrelevant because they’re very much relevant. It’s not that they don’t count or we just cook them up. It really does whatever we think about the hardships and you know what holds us back. What do you think about that.

**** – (): 11:15.37

**** – (): katie

**** – (): Right? Yeah, no absolutely and um and I I think there’s also like there’s this expectation that you know if you’re working as an artist that you don’t ask questions. You know you don’t um.

**** – (): 11:18.30

**** – (): charukaarora

**** – (): 1 1

**** – (): 11:30.65

**** – (): katie

**** – (): You don’t ask questions. You don’t ask for Help. You don’t ask for Feedback. You don’t Um, you don’t share resources. You don’t you know you’re supposed to have it figured Out. You’re supposed to have um you know you’re you’re so you’re supposed to have your own path and figure out success on your own. Um, when in Reality. Um. Ah, being curious and asking questions and and collaborating is really at the heart of the work that we do So um, but it can be Scary. You know it can be really scary to um to reach out and say Cush. You know what? I would love to know more about. Ah, the work that you’re doing or if you have any feedback where if you have thoughts or if you have um, you know some sort of ah instructions or thoughts or tips. It’s really difficult I don’t think people feel comfortable doing that. So.

**** – (): 12:19.96

**** – (): charukaarora

**** – (): Absolutely did you tell me something when you started your journey you know on being the gallery site. Ah,, let’s also talk about the before and after I Love this question it interesting when I was um, not on the other side. Oh My God I had. So many belief systems like you know? Oh um, you know a lot of system which still stands true I’m not saying that it doesn’t um, people are with they hard to approach they rud closed. Um, or they’re making money on artist. Um. You know all of those a million things that we think about slowly and steadily when I started to action step into the world myself like that and I started to understand oh my God if they wouldn’t do this. This wouldn’t be possible if this they wouldn’t do this Oh. My God that isn’t and now I do understand.

**** – (): 12:59.64

**** – (): katie

**** – (): But.

**** – (): 13:15.39

**** – (): charukaarora

**** – (): Both the sites like I started to understand all these years like okay, you know what? this really makes sense had I not stepped here I would have never been able to figure out and enjoy justify it to me that oh yes, you know it truly because for some reason for some reason artists I really do feel that. I work in a few different industries by now and I feel like for some reason artists do feel like they’ve always been profited off. Um and in that sometimes they feel more of that in regular sense versus you know. The other organizations galleries or all of those things. They’re also simple businesses who are really just supporting artists as you know, facilitating business but trying to make on their own as well. What do you think has been your experience in being both these sites being the creative and then. Coming on this side. How has those things that you thought first first and then we flipped and you like oh my god how wrong was I tell me if there have been any experiences like that.

**** – (): 14:23.67

**** – (): katie

**** – (): Um, I’ve probably very similar to yours in the sense that um, you know, Ah yes, ah, um, art. Ah. Art should be free. Everybody should be able to experience it. Um, you know artists should be paid living wages. Um, everybody should have up a piece of original art in their home. Um I’ve I Definitely you know, still at the core of me believe that it’s so difficult to make art.

**** – (): 14:42.86

**** – (): charukaarora

**** – (): Um, yeah.

**** – (): 14:54.10

**** – (): katie

**** – (): Under Capitalism. It’s just you know what? I mean it’s just it’s it. We’re operating in a system that is like not um, that is not kind to to creating art and and being organic and collaborative and and you know also living. So.

**** – (): 14:56.14

**** – (): charukaarora

**** – (): Um, yeah.

**** – (): 15:04.23

**** – (): charukaarora

**** – (): The.

**** – (): 15:11.68

**** – (): katie

**** – (): Um, I think that’s like a really difficult lesson to learn and then to to realize that that that’s what it takes in order to navigate it right is to acknowledge that that we exist in this structure that is that is impossible to Avoid. Um I I agree with you I don’t like the idea that there are there are spaces out there that make money off of artists but there are also um, there are certain things that go into maintaining a facility and um, you know it’s not maybe in profit but it is like. And an aspect of of what happens in this business. Um, it’s It’s a really sort of unfortunate side and um at the heart of what we do. Um here at this facility in this organization is to to center the artist.

**** – (): 15:53.86

**** – (): charukaarora

**** – (): Um, yeah.

**** – (): 16:08.16

**** – (): katie

**** – (): And as well as the community but at the same time we’re still trying to you know, keep the keep the doors open. Yeah, exactly exactly and you know if if I if I could if I had the magic wand to wave it really would be you.

**** – (): 16:13.89

**** – (): charukaarora

**** – (): Um, like that yeah I do understand that.

**** – (): 16:27.26

**** – (): katie

**** – (): Really would be free all of the time for everyone with with you know, finding collectors for these artists. They are living um the life and getting paid for the labor in a way that they deserve. Um, yeah, and we are um, a weird community gallery. We are subsidized by.

**** – (): 16:40.10

**** – (): charukaarora

**** – (): Um, yeah, yeah, government tell me how does that work I’m sure a lot of people are curious. Um can you help me.

**** – (): 16:45.69

**** – (): katie

**** – (): By the government. Um, so we are not um, we sure.

**** – (): 16:55.22

**** – (): charukaarora

**** – (): Ah, Howard regular gallery for everyone who’s listening Howard regular galleryies different how a commercial gallery versus government supported gallery. How are they different.

**** – (): 17:07.36

**** – (): katie

**** – (): Oh yeah, so again, we’re and more subsidized by the government so we are our community municipal gallery. Um, so we are not a commercial gallery in this sense that we have a pool of collectors. Um, and we do not have our own collection of work. We’re about 65

**** – (): 17:18.70

**** – (): charukaarora

**** – (): Um, okay, okay.

**** – (): 17:23.89

**** – (): katie

**** – (): Um, hundred Square feet we um we have 4 rotating exhibits a year and um, outside of me in California which is a juried um exhibit we have 3 other invitational or collaborative partnership shows.

**** – (): 17:30.41

**** – (): charukaarora

**** – (): Um, okay yeah.

**** – (): 17:39.81

**** – (): katie

**** – (): So um, that’s how we operate our our schedule we are technically City employees. Um, our very small little staff. Um our our city employees and because of that our focus really is to keep it on the um, ah on the art experience.

**** – (): 17:42.37

**** – (): charukaarora

**** – (): Okay.

**** – (): 17:58.83

**** – (): katie

**** – (): For visitors and um and maintaining really great partnerships with artists themselves so our our focus isn’t to sell. It isn’t to promote as much. It is to create experiences. Um for our citizens. Um. Back when this facility was built which was nineteen eighty was built into city hall um, specifically as um, specifically as a gallery really because I think um at the time leadership wanted um access for citizens to see contemporary art.

**** – (): 18:23.15

**** – (): charukaarora

**** – (): Um, okay.

**** – (): 18:34.31

**** – (): katie

**** – (): Without having to drive to maybe a major metropolis to experience it really to bring it here. Um, and so like I said we do 4 exhibits a year all contemporary art. Um all the work is is usually about it’s ah it’s.

**** – (): 18:37.96

**** – (): charukaarora

**** – (): Um, yeah, yeah.

**** – (): 18:43.89

**** – (): charukaarora

**** – (): Is it California or us or is it like all kinds I know your California show is California targeted. But what about the rest of the work that you show.

**** – (): 18:54.44

**** – (): katie

**** – (): Correct So the rest of the exhibits are um, a lot of them are regional but they are we do feature artists from all over the country. So our current show has a couple of non-regional artists the show that we did this summer was a partnership with um.

**** – (): 19:03.80

**** – (): charukaarora

**** – (): Okay.

**** – (): 19:13.25

**** – (): katie

**** – (): With a development organization in Los Angeles so all the artists were from Los Angeles but um yeah it differs. So it’s all over the country and again it’s way that we were able to give back to the community to see work that may may not be able to see. Um.

**** – (): 19:19.30

**** – (): charukaarora

**** – (): Um, okay.

**** – (): 19:23.51

**** – (): charukaarora

**** – (): Are.

**** – (): 19:32.12

**** – (): katie

**** – (): In our little town. So um, otherwise yeah, so um, yeah, so we have like so you can see we have a couple of different priorities being a space and we’re walking ah ah, a real fine balance between pushing the envelope and and really providing the community.

**** – (): 19:32.62

**** – (): charukaarora

**** – (): Um, yeah, okay I get it.

**** – (): 19:51.85

**** – (): katie

**** – (): What it is that they they want? yeah.

**** – (): 19:53.47

**** – (): charukaarora

**** – (): Um, how do you think? um I grew up in a small town in India we didn’t have we don’t have as much of a galleryg culture as you’d seen the best. Um, we’re a lot more crafts based artingbased versus Gallley Grace so we’ve seen I’ve grown up a lot around the arts.

**** – (): 19:57.80

**** – (): katie

**** – (): Are 8

**** – (): 20:14.25

**** – (): charukaarora

**** – (): But not in the way that you’d really I think maybe probably you would have that um I’m trying to understand how much do you think is a role of a space like that in a community um bringing art to the people exposing them. To these ideas um making the own I think it’s not only a place of looking at art. But it’s also connection conversation experience. How do you think you and community I think one of the most important community in both ends I feel like a creative community because these places become. Like rihainger these um, not only fine arts but let’s say someone who wants to write about art someone who wants to talk about art someone who is a performance artist someone who’s a writer sit like really 1 center can bring so many creative people together but also for other people who just who may not be a creator themselves. Um, but truly like to take a part in that conversation really like to look at it. How do you think these roles as um, how important these rules are for ah or ah for a city region and how does that really help the development of the city and people.

**** – (): 21:25.67

**** – (): katie

**** – (): And Sarah can you can can you say that one last part again I’ve I lost you for a second.

**** – (): 21:28.96

**** – (): charukaarora

**** – (): Oh how much? Yes, yes, yes, how yeah I’m saying how much do you think are these how how important are these centers for a city’s development and for its people.

**** – (): 21:42.60

**** – (): katie

**** – (): Oh We think they’re vital I think they’re absolutely vital. Um, Ah, we’re really lucky I think our community looks to us to um to provide these experiences and to start these conversations. Um I think um because we’ve been here as long as we have um, over. 40 years. Um, we’ve gained a certain amount of Authority in the community as people are are very supportive and they look to us I think um with a certain amount of um of respect and also for for leadership which is great because I think there are certainly um.

**** – (): 22:06.76

**** – (): charukaarora

**** – (): Um, yeah.

**** – (): 22:18.66

**** – (): katie

**** – (): There’s certainly places that are resistant to that. Um, so I think that we well we were I feel very grateful. Um, but yeah I think that they are I think this sort of relationship this like dynamic of a community in a space. Um I think.

**** – (): 22:20.19

**** – (): charukaarora

**** – (): Um, yeah.

**** – (): 22:35.32

**** – (): charukaarora

**** – (): Oh.

**** – (): 22:37.78

**** – (): katie

**** – (): Is so instrumental in in how people think about our culture and our um in our relationships to each other um a lot of the people that come through this space. The majority of the people that come through this space are not artists. Um and they are not maybe wouldn’t consider themselves to be artistic people. Ah, they are they are residents. They’re citizens. Um, they’ve come to experience it. They’ve come to. Um.

**** – (): 23:06.34

**** – (): charukaarora

**** – (): Um, yeah.

**** – (): 23:15.68

**** – (): katie

**** – (): See what sort of topics artists are like currently exploring um and so a lot of them. Don’t have fine art degrees and a lot of them. Don’t have experience in creating art themselves. So um, they’re really looking to us to be sort of the leaders in that.

**** – (): 23:24.72

**** – (): charukaarora

**** – (): Absolutely.

**** – (): 23:33.62

**** – (): charukaarora

**** – (): Yeah.

**** – (): 23:35.31

**** – (): katie

**** – (): Um, and we try to make it so that this space is really accessible. So if you really don’t know anything about art and you’ve wandered in because you just happen to wander in. Yes, there is. There’s some additional context there some um.

**** – (): 23:40.43

**** – (): charukaarora

**** – (): Yes, that is one of the most important things. Yes, yeah.

**** – (): 23:50.92

**** – (): katie

**** – (): There’s some sort of interactive aspect of it right? So people can come in and enjoy Maybe you just reflect on the experience that they’ve had and um and they walk away maybe with um you know a sort of a different idea of what maybe they thought quote unquote real art was.

**** – (): 24:08.44

**** – (): charukaarora

**** – (): Yeah.

**** – (): 24:10.46

**** – (): katie

**** – (): We also try to very much encourage. The idea that disliking something is just as valuable as liking a piece of art. Yeah yeah.

**** – (): 24:17.72

**** – (): charukaarora

**** – (): Um, as liking Sam I like that? yeah and also having I think ah really I think if I think in general to the arts. Not only supporting artists and something. We also really focus on is also educating people about what the art is um. I think for a very long time. It was something that was restricted to only people who had wealth only for their aristocratic for people who were on the top shelf even not I’m not only talking about um buying but also looking at it.

**** – (): 24:43.15

**** – (): katie

**** – (): Are.

**** – (): 24:51.49

**** – (): charukaarora

**** – (): It was felt like there was a right way to do something a right way to talk about it look at it go to a gallery a lot of people have been so resistant and that’s really not helping anyone if you’re able to ah create an hospital environment for all kinds of people who may or may not know about it. But. You know like a market if you see in a market and wandered off.. There’s no hesitation hesitation like you know, um I can go and see something like even I think there’s such a huge support for others if everybody feels free to just look at it and not be afraid of. I Don’t know if I’m good and I don’t know how to judge this if it’s good enough I don’t know am I good Enough. Do I have the skill I’ve I never seen an art or like you know those those things if you’re able to foster um, an environment in in City in our countries in our regions wherever we are.

**** – (): 25:32.22

**** – (): katie

**** – (): Right.

**** – (): 25:46.45

**** – (): charukaarora

**** – (): And more and more people become comfortable looking at art talking about it knowing that there’s no right? or wrong way. It’s surely. We’re only contributing to a better world for all of us.

**** – (): 25:52.84

**** – (): katie

**** – (): Are.

**** – (): 26:00.20

**** – (): katie

**** – (): I Absolutely absolutely agreed and um I think once people sort of get all over the the initial like intimidation of like walking into um, a space. Um and then sort of owning whatever experience that they have. Um, I think you’re right I think people will relays that there’s like so much to be taken Away. Um, and you know you want it like you always want want people to start young so that they develop an appreciation early. Um, you know going to the theater going to a museum or going to an art Gallery. Um. I Think we also expect that people will grow into an adult grow in adulthood and then sort of wake up one day and say I like I would like I would like to be an appreciator of of the theater right? and that I will just go and I will have a great experience. Well.

**** – (): 26:44.29

**** – (): charukaarora

**** – (): Um, yeah, yeah, absolutely yeah.

**** – (): 26:55.79

**** – (): katie

**** – (): You know there’s so much to that that um you know when you if you can if you get a little bit of experience when you’re younger you you realize that these spaces are for you right? these spaces belong to you and um, ah you know that there’s that you can throw rules out because it’s really about a sense of.

**** – (): 27:03.13

**** – (): charukaarora

**** – (): Absolutely.

**** – (): 27:15.51

**** – (): katie

**** – (): Of community and belonging. But I don’t think people read like I don’t I don’t think people know that you know as as adults.

**** – (): 27:17.49

**** – (): charukaarora

**** – (): Um, um, yeah I agree I agree and you know it’s again I think you really put it out there. Um, if you’re as as a young child. Let’s say I didn’t grow up in a city that meetingtime Museums. Didn’t have um galleries or any of those things so for a very long time I never knew like oh I’m I’m not I’m not an art and for me there was like a very typical image of what an art collector looks like what an art. Okay I may have bought a few pieces here and there but for me.

**** – (): 27:50.84

**** – (): katie

**** – (): Um, are.

**** – (): 27:52.90

**** – (): charukaarora

**** – (): In the beginning art collection meant that I had to spend ah thousands and thousands and thousands of dolo and like you know acquire art and like oh be this and then I started to slowly um I was like oh my god I’ve been collecting for far too longre thought and. That is because we didn’t know that what we’re collecting was like in a very lame in manner and that um, that of course galleyies are just 1 extension of doing it but let’s say community centers in places where cafes where like you know in all our own ways wherever our resources are.

**** – (): 28:15.11

**** – (): katie

**** – (): A.

**** – (): 28:29.71

**** – (): charukaarora

**** – (): Ah, we’re looking at art and you’re really enjoying it. You’re looking at it but because of a lack of these institutions we always thought okay I don’t know how to approach this place and for that it always became a block as an adult to even go there.

**** – (): 28:42.57

**** – (): katie

**** – (): Um, absolutely.

**** – (): 28:49.29

**** – (): charukaarora

**** – (): Like you know I didn’t go to a calli for a very long time in my own adulthood because I thought I’m not the I’m not the right audience for them and oh my god I was the best audience like I was really at it. But also I think um on the same side if you if we invest in our own communities from today and.

**** – (): 28:54.70

**** – (): katie

**** – (): Should.

**** – (): 29:06.20

**** – (): katie

**** – (): Oh.

**** – (): 29:08.23

**** – (): charukaarora

**** – (): Probably even if we have the eye or whatever. Maybe we do not have the income. We do not have the resources at the moment but it’s also great that we are so much investing in ourselves that once we do have that income or affordability from small to whatever we’re able to give back in that.

**** – (): 29:12.71

**** – (): katie

**** – (): Are.

**** – (): 29:27.62

**** – (): charukaarora

**** – (): You know it’s like nurturing before expecting.

**** – (): 29:31.58

**** – (): katie

**** – (): Right? right? Absolutely well. Um, ah toroo. What do you think was like what how did how did your own experience change. Um, what? Um, what was maybe the obstacle and then how did you get over it that.

**** – (): 29:46.78

**** – (): charukaarora

**** – (): Um, about.

**** – (): 29:48.47

**** – (): katie

**** – (): About feeling like you could go to these spaces and have these experiences without maybe you know with maybe feeling sort of intimidated or not not completely welcomed.

**** – (): 30:00.10

**** – (): charukaarora

**** – (): Yeah, yeah, with hundred percent honesty I still feel um from what I’ve seen from why where I’ve been so far I still feel these places like a huge community.

**** – (): 30:09.30

**** – (): katie

**** – (): Are.

**** – (): 30:17.11

**** – (): charukaarora

**** – (): Sense still feel that specifically from the part of what I am in um I still feel they’re still centered towards ah a very gene a very specific kind of audience and in that cases it does eliminate. Um, ah a lot of people who.

**** – (): 30:18.57

**** – (): katie

**** – (): Um, or.

**** – (): 30:28.49

**** – (): katie

**** – (): Are.

**** – (): 30:36.10

**** – (): charukaarora

**** – (): Could potentially become a really good part of the community but because they do not see themselves in that landscape. They’re not.. It’s just they do not feel comfortable I have seen around like I have friends and families who have let’s who even have the resources. But they will never step into a gallery and if I bring a book to them and I tell them Ok, okay, you know or if I take them to a studio or you know and they’ll they get like they completely get in off that space because um, an artist who is very inviting. Um, it’s very like it’s very Ra. It’s not like a state setup. It’s not like.

**** – (): 31:12.34

**** – (): katie

**** – (): Um, or.

**** – (): 31:13.71

**** – (): charukaarora

**** – (): Everybody’s drinking champpane and like you know all of that and I’ve seen so many people um feel so at home detail at it and feel so approachable. So I feel like I still feel like the gallery space. Um, in general is specifically the commercial galleries are still very unapproachable to the audiences.

**** – (): 31:30.90

**** – (): katie

**** – (): Are.

**** – (): 31:32.79

**** – (): charukaarora

**** – (): Um, they’re not so I feel like the public calaries on the contrary. Um, they really are approachable specifically in the parts of India like anybody can walk in. They’re beautiful. You can see but I feel like they do not. They haven’t either. They don’t have enough budgets or they haven’t early in India. Focus so much on community and outreach that a lot of people do’ even know that something like this exists like you know? Um, so if I don’t know you’ve heard about taj well I’m sure so I’ve been bought in born and brought up in India a city with that and that’s in tajma there’s a little gallery if you go.

**** – (): 31:56.90

**** – (): katie

**** – (): Um, well.

**** – (): 32:10.32

**** – (): charukaarora

**** – (): And if you go there, you’d see a story of Agra. So how atarur was built early sketches montage shaja like I love going to thatjmal I love going to the gallery I I truly like I every time I go I will go to the gallery even though they’re the same collection. It’s like.

**** – (): 32:18.22

**** – (): katie

**** – (): Amazing.

**** – (): 32:29.69

**** – (): charukaarora

**** – (): Have a little small space. The monument itself but it’s just whenever I go I’ll look at something differently I I connect to the story I connect to my own roots and I just feel like both of these roles have so many like commercial calories have a lot of value to offer but they feel less approachable versus. Public Calvins has so much to offer but there um there so there’s so much lack of awareness for people that they don’t even know like they can go there and something that’s been happening in India right? Tower in Ali so we have these? um um, modern art galleryary spaces. These are traditional public cales.

**** – (): 32:58.10

**** – (): katie

**** – (): Oh.

**** – (): 33:08.43

**** – (): charukaarora

**** – (): Really good ones and people were not as um, aware of it. So what they’ve done is recently they’ve opened a lot of great restaurants around the team of India and experienced and they have a little bit of music and things like that and a lot of people have started to pour in. It’s like lit up in the night and it’s like.

**** – (): 33:19.33

**** – (): katie

**** – (): Are.

**** – (): 33:26.17

**** – (): charukaarora

**** – (): Now People have a reason to go to a gallery because they’re coming here and they’re like they’re coming together. So I think more experiences like these can really make it approachable for everybody and I really feel like the wall is so much a better place. We all look at art I Truly believe that. But.

**** – (): 33:38.60

**** – (): katie

**** – (): Um, and.

**** – (): 33:42.22

**** – (): katie

**** – (): I do too I Completely agree and thank you so much for being very vulnerable about sharing that they are silk spaces that you are you know, maybe hesitant to go to and I feel the same way I think there are definitely galleries where.

**** – (): 33:49.14

**** – (): charukaarora

**** – (): Um, asleep.

**** – (): 33:52.29

**** – (): charukaarora

**** – (): Um, yeah.

**** – (): 33:56.91

**** – (): katie

**** – (): And I I’m all you know I work in this business and there are places where it seems very intimidating to step inside and um, you know there’s no information and there they’re they’re purposely sort of keeping that back from you and um, ah yeah, and it feels like you’re a little bit of an interloper when you go to these spleezes.

**** – (): 33:59.54

**** – (): charukaarora

**** – (): Um, yeah.

**** – (): 34:06.62

**** – (): charukaarora

**** – (): Yeah, yeah.

**** – (): 34:14.80

**** – (): charukaarora

**** – (): Um, yeah, yeah.

**** – (): 34:16.42

**** – (): katie

**** – (): Um, and that’s and that can be really difficult and if that’s your only experience. Go walking into a space that shows contemporary art then of course you’re not going to want to go back? Um, and then she you know to your other point about um, ah some of these places are so ah, they’re just they don’t have maybe the the reach.

**** – (): 34:26.69

**** – (): charukaarora

**** – (): Um, yeah.

**** – (): 34:36.16

**** – (): katie

**** – (): Um, that they should and I know again on the flip side of the coin is um I’m working um I’m working within a government institution and you know it’s very difficult to get the arts funded. Um, they are always the the last to get funded and the first to get cut. So um.

**** – (): 34:54.60

**** – (): charukaarora

**** – (): Um, yeah, absolutely.

**** – (): 34:55.90

**** – (): katie

**** – (): You know I think your your point about the importance of a for writing these experiences to a community people. Um, that is that is what I repeat on a daily basis to my bosses to to the council to commission to.

**** – (): 35:05.44

**** – (): charukaarora

**** – (): Um, um.

**** – (): 35:14.61

**** – (): katie

**** – (): Um, to everybody who wants us to continue to sell and provide value for what we do and it can be very difficult if they don’t see a direct revenue source that corresponds right? So it’s it’s a indirect benefit to our community.

**** – (): 35:28.59

**** – (): charukaarora

**** – (): I Yeah man. Yeah, but you know what that is also and I think that’s I think that I also did ah you know think about this for a very long time.

**** – (): 35:33.68

**** – (): katie

**** – (): Um, and that’s why you have to have a true believer. Yeah.

**** – (): 35:43.58

**** – (): charukaarora

**** – (): When I started publishing books in magazine I thought oh my god I don’t know we’re not making we’re not selling someone’s work yet I’m not providing enough value and that as someone who’s really purpose driven for me the work that I do truly I believe in it for me. It truly matters if. I’m able to support whatever we are um to the artist and it really helped me back for a very long time because I felt like oh I’m not making sales because for a very long time we Mark progress with conversion like in very business terms versus I quickly realize you know.

**** – (): 36:17.32

**** – (): katie

**** – (): Um, where.

**** – (): 36:19.65

**** – (): charukaarora

**** – (): Um, three years now in the business I’ve realized the publications we print the opportunities we create you know if I had that at that point you know our distribution is to galleries and curators that I don’t think at any point of even my own career I would have been able to send myself like.

**** – (): 36:38.56

**** – (): katie

**** – (): Um, well.

**** – (): 36:39.20

**** – (): charukaarora

**** – (): Ah, not only I’m not talking about just general distribution of people approach and all of that which is extremely valuable when people look at your work. You know we are marketing you your work is being seen in all parts of the world being published in a book but very targetedly. Every book gets goes to galleries and curators. From our end we make that show that every time we publish a book we send it to our network and I and I realized like how big is that because when I would have started or even today I would really like I would like if you’re sending my work to let’s say this gallery or Christian or someone and like oh my god even if.

**** – (): 37:01.50

**** – (): katie

**** – (): Are.

**** – (): 37:17.46

**** – (): charukaarora

**** – (): My work here as a mediator is like I am we’re curating your work. We’re publishing your work and we’re putting it out there now then your work does the work like you know you put a show now your work does the work similarly we’ve done the work we publish your work. We’ve made a beautiful work. Um book we’ve done everything we could.

**** – (): 37:28.55

**** – (): katie

**** – (): Great.

**** – (): 37:36.16

**** – (): charukaarora

**** – (): And now we’ve send it to the people that really you know can also help you further now they do their work in your work does the work and then I certainly realized like you what? how? how wrong was I thinking the value that we have today like we have been able to give awards we give people. Mentorship calls like with Ashley we just just did an award where Ashley longshare was giving mentor mentors to a will you know awardees and ah so like making these partnerships and and I started to understand like you know what? they may not um I I started to really count it like this.

**** – (): 37:59.21

**** – (): katie

**** – (): Oh wow.

**** – (): 38:12.12

**** – (): charukaarora

**** – (): I may be able to help someone make a sale of let’s say $1000 and they make 1 big chunk of it but the value that we’re giving today is way more than 1000 because really helping you develop those skills um with these community efforts and with you know.

**** – (): 38:25.28

**** – (): katie

**** – (): Are.

**** – (): 38:30.50

**** – (): charukaarora

**** – (): With people who’ve really done it be it a gallery as we it Ashley be it. Um someone on other side of the business and making sure that whenever you’re in a book or whatever things you’re curating. We take it to a network of people that you would want to go to any day that is like selling 30000 or whatever like. That’s really so much in the long run that I can’t put the price up now and I really that really flippped that switch to me and my own I think unless you don’t value what you do you really can’t advocate for it.

**** – (): 39:00.38

**** – (): katie

**** – (): Absolutely and I and they’re so lucky that they have you being a advocate because you are a believer. You know a lot of people think that the the art industry needs more business people and they need more business minded people. They need more corporate structures. Um, but the reality is you have to find people that believe in what it is that are in it for the long haul that make the investment because they know it’ll pay off and because there’s a certain amount of gratitude that they get from it and um I think um arts people need to be making art decisions for art spaces and for artists.

**** – (): 39:19.83

**** – (): charukaarora

**** – (): Believe on it.

**** – (): 39:29.54

**** – (): charukaarora

**** – (): You know.

**** – (): 39:35.14

**** – (): charukaarora

**** – (): Yes, absolutely I second that so much so much.

**** – (): 39:38.50

**** – (): katie

**** – (): Ah, um, okay, good. Yeah, but I think I Yeah I think that um when you have people like you who are there because you believe in it and because you are invested in it. You’re committed to make those. Um. Ah, those decisions. Um for people in the in like the best and most um, a pure sense of integrity way. Um, debb being said, it’s you know you’re in it for the long haul you’re in it for the commitment whereas I don’t think there you know people who look at it with um you know a business sense. They don’t see.

**** – (): 40:07.38

**** – (): charukaarora

**** – (): Man.

**** – (): 40:15.76

**** – (): charukaarora

**** – (): Um, yeah I Love the word that we’ve been talking about right now these days is social enterprise which is we did a last episode which was very simple.

**** – (): 40:16.88

**** – (): katie

**** – (): You don’t see the benefits right.

**** – (): 40:27.82

**** – (): charukaarora

**** – (): You do a business. We are also a business. We think about salaries we think about rents we think about projections. We think about all of those things because that’s exactly what a business does you have to make sure that you’re making enough money so that you can survive and all of those things. But I think what really changes is if you have a heart in your right place.

**** – (): 40:35.72

**** – (): katie

**** – (): In.

**** – (): 40:46.78

**** – (): charukaarora

**** – (): Social enterprise based makes it a business with intent a business with purpose where you’re so driven with your purpose that you’re not, youre like with ah at least I can speak for myself every action I take we really had a bad experience recently in 1 of our projects and I really didn’t like that collaboration how that things were happening. And there was little voice in my head and I felt like okay you know what? if I give in to this. This is not fair to our artist this is not that to our artist this’s not there to artist and I knew that you know some um I knew that if I really did did not say I wouldn’t be able to sleep at night. Um. My job was done. We did what we needed to do but I knew that things certain things that were happening that I my conscience just didn’t allow that it wasn’t say to a lot of people and for me I feel every artist. There’s a submission p theypa to you know to be ju read. I know I take it as a great sense of responsibility to to me that you know I need to make sure that we work so much so hard we make sure that every pie of that. It’s worth it like you know, even if they’re not selected. We try to give them you know anything but really make sure that it helps them some way.

**** – (): 41:54.79

**** – (): katie

**** – (): Um, no.

**** – (): 42:01.40

**** – (): charukaarora

**** – (): And it’s really like I think the idea of that social Enterprise. Really, it’s It’s like putting you in check really does it. Ah, of course I’m a business sure it makes businesses but is it truly aligning with my own purpose and values. Um, and if it’s not I really need to talk about and and we really we really move forward and I spoke about it and. The end. We really solved it. But in hindsight I would have really messed it up but we were able to handle it and I realized Okay, you know what I at least in in in Heart So far far I felt like I Really fought for the cost and I really was able to make a difference even if though nobody cares nobody knows I know.

**** – (): 42:33.14

**** – (): katie

**** – (): Are.

**** – (): 42:39.71

**** – (): charukaarora

**** – (): I Get that’s it. That’s what matters. Yeah.

**** – (): 42:40.94

**** – (): katie

**** – (): Right? Absolutely,. That’s what matters yes and I agree same way. Um, with with our gerage show. It’s like if you know you want to make sure that um every person feels like they’ve been seen and they’ve been Heard. And and we really sort of throw out any any ego with um with it with an exhibit like that right? We we want to make sure that it’s It’s artist centered that people feel like they get value out of it about participating in it and also just that they’ve submitted to it. Um. Always make sure that we keep a resource of people that did not get accepted but like have fantastic art and it would just not maybe the right fit that we can always go back to them and we’ve we’ve featured many artists that way we’ve grown relationships that way because we weren’t able to get them in maybe the Jury show but they were invited.

**** – (): 43:19.72

**** – (): charukaarora

**** – (): Um, yeah, um.

**** – (): 43:23.73

**** – (): charukaarora

**** – (): Yeah.

**** – (): 43:29.82

**** – (): charukaarora

**** – (): Yeah, love that amazing! Thank you so much Katie I can’t believe it’s been 45 minutes already 43 minutes and um I know it’s late for you I know I’ve own the whole I’ve been holding.

**** – (): 43:33.16

**** – (): katie

**** – (): The next year to something so you know.

**** – (): 43:39.25

**** – (): katie

**** – (): Excellent.

**** – (): 43:46.66

**** – (): charukaarora

**** – (): I But thank you so much I really did have a great conversation.

**** – (): 43:50.31

**** – (): katie

**** – (): Oh well. Thank you so much for having me. It’s like it’s It’s always such a great pleasure to talk with somebody who is also so committed and to know that um, you’re out there and you’re doing all the good that you are.

**** – (): 44:01.90

**** – (): charukaarora

**** – (): Thank you so much. But I’ll let you go before? do you have something that you want anyone who’s listening to this episode you want to write redirect them where they can find you we can we support you if there’s an upcoming project that that you like to share with us make sure you do that.

**** – (): 44:20.27

**** – (): katie

**** – (): Absolutely um, anybody that wants to know more about our space go to brea arttgaery dot com. Um, follow us on Instagram at Brea Gallery um actually that’s really kind of the best way to build relationships with us. Um. We we are starting. We we do have an open call right now for our work in Maiden California for 2024 and you can submit on our website. Um that is open to any California based artist. Um.

**** – (): 44:41.88

**** – (): charukaarora

**** – (): Um.

**** – (): 44:46.97

**** – (): katie

**** – (): But follow us online just to see what we’re doing again. That’s how we actually see and interact with a lot of our guyss um locally and internationally um and we have a current exhibit up now. Um called threads that bind which is a fantastic assortment of um women. Fiber artists and we’ll be open up our next exhibit in January Twenty Twenty four called through the dreamhouse we haven’t even actually officially announced this yet. So but it’s kind the January Twenty seventh will open up our next exhibit.

**** – (): 45:13.30

**** – (): charukaarora

**** – (): Oh wow.

**** – (): 45:19.60

**** – (): katie

**** – (): Um, and that will be an assortment of artists from um, all over the country. So we’re super excited. Yeah.

**** – (): 45:21.65

**** – (): charukaarora

**** – (): Oh Wow! Amazing! Thank you so much I will make sure that we link all of these links in our show notes and a whole synopsis of our own episodes and highlights and quotes and a lot of pictures So make sure you do with the show notes and. You join us in the next episode. Thank you so much everyone I’ll see you soon.

**** – (): 45:42.42

**** – (): katie

**** – (): Cheruka have a great day.


About The Guest(s): Katie is the gallery director at Brea Gallery in Southern California. With a background in performance and theater, she is passionate about storytelling and creating platforms to lift others’ voices.

Summary:
Katie discusses her journey as an artist and how she transitioned to becoming the gallery director at Brea Gallery. She emphasizes the importance of storytelling and creating experiences in the arts community. Katie also highlights the challenges artists face, such as self-doubt and the need for validation. She believes in the power of collaboration and the role of art spaces in fostering a sense of community and belonging.

Key Takeaways:

  • Katie’s background in performance and theater led her to pursue a career in the arts community.
  • Artists often struggle with self-doubt and the need for validation, but collaboration and asking for feedback can be beneficial.
  • Art spaces play a vital role in bringing art to the community and creating a sense of belonging.
  • The accessibility and approachability of art spaces are crucial in encouraging people to engage with art.
  • Social enterprise in the arts focuses on purpose and values, rather than solely on profit.

Quotes:

  • “Being curious and asking questions and collaborating is really at the heart of the work that we do.”
  • “Disliking something is just as valuable as liking a piece of art.”
  • “Arts people need to be making art decisions for art spaces and for artists.”
  • “You have to find people that believe in what it is and are in it for the long haul.”
  • “Art spaces belong to you, and you can throw rules out because it’s really about a sense of community and belonging.”

Charuka Arora is the founder of the Arts to Hearts Project and Host of the Arts to Hearts Podcast. She is also an acclaimed Indian artist known for her contemporary embellished paintings. Her unique blend of gouache, collage, embroidery, painting, and drawing explores the intersection of art, culture, heritage, and womanhood. Through her work, she tells stories of female strength and encapsulates them in pieces that can be treasured for generations.

 Arts to Hearts Project Gallery + Studio

Charuka’s work draws inspiration from Hindu mythology, recognizing women as vessels of Shakti, the cosmic energy. She beautifully portrays powerful goddesses like Durga Maa riding a tiger or lion, symbolizing their unlimited power to protect virtue and combat evil.

Through her art, Charuka invites us into the world of women, showcasing their beauty, strength, and resilience. Her creations not only exhibit exceptional talent but also serve as an inspiration and a symbol of hope for those challenging societal norms.

About Arts to Hearts Project Gallery + Studio

Arts to Hearts Podcast is a show delving into the lives and passions of renowned artists. From running creative businesses and studio art practices to cultivating a successful mindset, Charuka Arora engages in heartfelt conversations with her guests. Experience your personal happy hour with your favorite artists, right in your studio.

Through candid discussions, Charuka and her guests reveal the joys and challenges of a vibrant creative life, both within and beyond our studios. Get ready to be inspired and uplifted as you tune in.

About Katie Chidester

Katie Chidester is a Southern California-based director and theater artist. She is Co-Founding Artistic Director of intersectional performance + art collective Project La Femme, a group that investigates and promotes community dialog revolving around the female-identifying voice, as well as a local playwriting festival of new works in 2019.

Katie spent 12 years as an executive member of The Hunger Artist Theatre Co. as an actor, producer and director. She collaborated to direct/devise with experimental playwriting collective, Fell Swoop Playwrights for the Hollywood Fringe Festival for two world premiere productions. Director’ credits include: Beautiful Star: An Appalachian Nativity in North Carolina at Triad Stage, Les Liaisons Dangereuses (UNCG), Machinal (Long Beach Playhouse), Desdemona: A Play About A Handkerchief (The Hunger Artists), Sans Merci (The Garage), The Miss Julie Dream Project (Son of Semele) Cloud 9 and Trifles (Triad UpStage). Assistant Directed for Casey Stangl at South Coast Repertory and most recently she revised a Complete Works of William Shakespeare (Abridged) script with an all-woman cast to include the chaos of COVID19 in 2022 at the Costa Mesa Playhouse. Interned at Yale School of Drama, Summer Cabaret, alumni of Directors Lab West and SDC Observership. Currently, she is a Board Member of OC Theatre Guild and Program Coordinator for the OCTG Awards. Katie holds a BA degree from the University of Southern California and an MFA in Directing from The University of North Carolina, Greensboro.

About Brea Gallery

Brea Gallery Exhibit

The Brea Gallery is a 6,500 square foot contemporary art space that presents four major exhibitions per year. Located in the Brea Civic and Cultural Center, the Gallery has been offering meaningful exhibitions, workshops for all ages, artist lectures, live art demonstrations, a gift shop, and unique artistic opportunities for the community since it opened in 1980.

The Brea Gallery is a community-based arts space, working with upcoming and established artists in a variety of ways. However, the Gallery does not represent artists, have a permanent collection, or offer art appraisals. The intimate 200-seat Curtis Theatre is located just across the plaza from the Gallery and offers a year-round schedule of stunning performances. As well, Brea is widely known for it’s Art in Public Places Program, featuring over 185 sculptures throughout the city.

Katie started working at Brea Gallery right before the pandemic. For her, working at a visual art space means giving back to the art community, which is something that drew her into this field in the first place. Wanting to create stories and sharing them was something that always fascinated Katie, and for her, Brea Gallery offered the perfect space where she could lift other artists’ voices and stories. Working at a visual art space also means maintaining some aspects of live performance, which is something that Katie loves as she has background in performance and theatre. As a director of Brea Gallery, Katie has the opportunity to expand on some of those ideas in a larger way where it’s not just about the exhibitions, but also programming outreach to the community.

Art and capitalism

Katie raises an interesting point in this episode as she talks about the misconceptions that people have about artists. Artists are expected to have it all together and know their way forward, and so it has become hard for struggling and aspiring artists to reach out to other artists for support. Artists, in fact, do not have it all figured out, and much like any other person, they have to carve their own path and go through a series on failures before they can find their footing on the ground.

For a long time, artists have been seen as people who should be making art for the sake of enjoyment, and people often forget that they also have their careers at stake. They need to be paid and are here to earn a living without being deemed as selfish. However, the entire narrative is very much fueled by the system we live in. Under capitalism, it becomes hard for artists to create and collaborate in an organic way while also having that financial stability. In an ideal world, art would be free for all to experience, finding collectors would not be hard for the artists, and everyone would be paid fairly. In an ideal world, artists will not have to choose between being organic and generating profit.

Art should be free. Everybody should be able to experience it. Artists should be paid living wages.

Katie Chidester – Arts to Hearts Podcast s03e43

Brea Gallery is a government supported gallery, which means that it is subsidized and doesn’t have its own art collection. With 4 rotating exhibits a year, Brea Gallery has a small staff who are all city employees. The focus of the gallery is to provide an experience to the visitors, whether they have an art background or not. Instead of selling, the aim here is to promote as much art so people from diverse backgrounds can easily experience contemporary art. The gallery features regional as well as non-regional artists in a bid to give back to the community so they can see the work they may not be able to otherwise.

How Art Spaces Shape Our Community – A Talk with Gallery director, Katie from Brea Gallery

Katie Chidester – Arts to Hearts Podcast s03e43

According to Katie, centers like Brea gallery are vital for the people and city’s development. It is only through such initiatives that we can hope to start conversations around art and smash the misconceptions regarding artists and their work. Now that Brea Gallery has built its own community over the years, there are a lot of people, who don’t consider themselves as artistic, come through this space to have that unique experience. This entire experience in itself is helping people reconsider what they thought ‘real art’ is, and Katie believes that such experiences can change the dynamics inside our communities. If people get exposure to such spaces at a young age, despite their backgrounds, only then they’ll be able to truly appreciate art.

These spaces belong to you, and you can throw rules out because it’s really about a sense of community and belonging.

Katie Chidester – Arts to Hearts Podcast s03e43

Creating an inclusive community of artists

As Katie discusses the need for such spaces for public, she also talks about a major hurdle that comes in the way of it. Many people, artists and non-artists, still feel like these spaces (art galleries) do not belong to them because they feel intimidated. This is true in case of most of the commercial galleries that have a certain vibe and aura to them, which makes them less approachable to majority of the people. Public galleries, on the other hand, may seem more approachable, and unfortunately, we don’t have many of those in our communities. As a result, as artists and creative, we must strive towards setting this right. People should get into this business for the long haul, and not just with a business-oriented mind. If we hope to build an inclusive community, we need people who think about other artists as well, and not just about projects only when they see a “direct revenue source”. We need to have people whose heart in the right place, and who understand that there is more value to be gained here than just the monetary value.

I think people need to be making art decisions for art spaces and for artists.

Katie Chidester – Arts to Hearts Podcast s03e43

If you want to know more about Brea Gallery, you can check out their website and Instagram to follow up on the latest updates. You can also interact with these guys through the online portals, which is always a great way to build relationships and a community. They have an open call for art in Maiden California for 2024, which you can submit on their website. Right now, locally and internationally, the gallery has a current exhibit called ‘Threads that bind’, which is an assortment of women fiber artists. They’ll also open up their next exhibit in January 2024 called ‘Through the dream house’, which they’ll be officially announcing soon.


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