(Not) Sheep, a new gallery created by the manager of Muse Gallery, opened on Sept. 5 at 17 W. Russell St. in the Short North, to show anti-Republican works.
Gallerist Caren Petersen wants (Not) Sheep to be a platform for artists to express their opinions. She said her aim is to denounce the current Republican administration and the perverted art sector.
“I’m very political, so I’m willing to let the artist go as far as they want,” Petersen said.
This gallery is an evolution of Muse Gallery, which Peterson continues to manage. She said she is no longer in the mindset of selling everything, she just wants to focus on curating a platform for political opinion.
Petersen said a few regular customers stopped doing business with Muse Gallery to protest the opening of (Not) Sheep. However, she thinks she is fortunate to own a space of free expression.
“This is art for art’s sake,” Petersen said.
Petersen said she knows how politically divided the United States is and recognizes that she might not be making any difference with her gallery, but likes to present ideas. What makes art controversial is the fact that it engages a conversation with the viewer, she said.
The tapestry “Extreme Close-Up” by Kathryn Shinko is composed of the phrase “Extreme p***y close-up” in yellow letters on a cliff landscape.
For this series, the artist took words used in the porn industry describing women and put them on photo-realistic backgrounds to reveal degrading and sexist pornographic language.
The piece, having been made before President Donald Trump’s infamous comments about women which surfaced during the presidential election, makes an unintended reference back to that controversial period.
“I’m more interested in seeing how people interpret my work through the lens of their own experiences,” Shinko said. “If some people want to interpret it that way, it’s fine.”
Petersen has not sold any pieces yet, despite the 200 visitors who came within the first three weeks. The slow start is partially due to construction in the neighborhood and the location, which is slightly off High Street, she said.
Five percent of each sale will be donated to charities upon consent of the buyer. The customer will have to choose from a preselected list of charities, which combat political decisions made at the government level, notably ones helping Planned Parenthood, Petersen said.
In 2016, Petersen had open-heart surgery and was told she only had eight to 12 years left to live.
“It made me feel like, excuse my language: ‘f*** it, what do I have to lose?’,” she said.
The name “(Not) Sheep” popped up in her head spontaneously. She had the idea of the gallery’s logo, representing a wolf in sheep’s clothing, subtly condemning those who follow ideologies blindly.
“With this gallery, I have a three-year plan, unless he gets re-elected. Then I have a seven-year plan,” Petersen said.