By Jessica Baar
“The idea was really to create a comprehensive hub of visual arts information. From not only artists’ portfolios but also information about visual arts,” says InLiquid’s Artist and Executive Director, Rachel Zimmerman.
For the past 17 years, Zimmerman’s nonprofit has been a cornerstone of the Philadelphia art community. Originally founded as an online space for artists to share their work, meet and use as an information resource, InLiquid quickly grew in popularity.
Now a space hosting more than 300 artists annually — and growing — the organization boasts a wide array of arts programs and exhibitions.
Crane Arts, the host building for InLiquid, is one of the largest gallery spaces in the area. Every year the space holds a multitude of events, including Art for the Cash Poor, a gallery of local emerging and established artists selling their pieces.
The best part? Everything at this particular exhibition is priced $199 and under.
Zimmerman attributes the success of her organization to the community and everyone who passes through her doors. “It’s really rewarding. Anytime anything good happens everyone’s really excited and happy about it and engaged. I think that’s a good thing and I think people like being involved in an organization that is supportive in that way.”
In the midst of planning for Art for the Cash Poor this weekend, Zimmerman was kind enough to call in and answer our questions.
Rachel Zimmerman: Growing up my parents would talk about being in New York and falling in love with a piece of art while wandering along the street. We don’t necessarily have that here but you could create a really fun event, have really good interaction, see a piece of art that you like, meet the artists and create a connection and hopefully relationship, not only with that artist but with us as an organization and with the events in the future. We have people who come every year religiously, and they buy a piece of art, or they buy from the same artist every year.
You don’t have to go to IKEA to buy artwork. I think that our frustration point is that you get those 400-page catalogs of generic artwork that you can put in your house. It’s kind of soulless. We’re trying to put the full [experience] into the idea of buying art, but we also want to realize that there are galleries and other events. This one [Art for the Cash Poor] was supposed to be much more relaxed, non-intimidating and open to anyone.
LS: How do you find your artists?
RZ: We have people that have been committed to it from the beginning, but it changes. The landscape of art changes so I think one of the things that we try to do is change the events, try to make it a little fresher every year.
“You don’t have to go to IKEA to buy good, affordable artwork.”
This year was a little tricky because we were a week earlier than normal, so a lot of people that expected us to be the second week in June weren’t available the first week in June. But it gave us the opportunity to reach out to other artists and I think because we work collaboratively with pretty much every art organization in the city, we’ve been able to reach out to some of our colleague organizations and ask if they recommend anyone. We’re all sort of helping each other and building it up.
LS: How did you come to partner with the AIDS Fund?
RZ: We’ve always been interested socially and we’ve done a number of exhibits that have dealt with issues of sexual identity or social justice issues. In the early ‘90s when MANNA first started my mother had been a delivery person for meals and they were mostly AIDS-related cases. I was also on a benefit committee for Show of Hand, which was a big silent art auction in support of the work at MANNA.
A lot of artists in the ‘80s and ‘90s died from AIDS. What we realized with the AIDS Fund was that we could work collaboratively and support each other’s missions in a fun way and expand our audiences so that we’re not always talking to the usual suspects.
Zimmerman concludes the interview with, “All of this stuff has crossover. And even though [you may not see] a direct relationship, it’s there.”
She continues, “It’s about being socially aware and realizing that in how you live your life. And I think that when people buy art, they buy it because they love the piece, or they like the artist, but it’s also nice to know when people are supporting an organization, they’re actually doing something to benefit a good cause as well.”
Art for the Cash Poor begins this Friday, June 3 and runs through Sunday, June 5. For more information and to buy tickets visit InLiquid’s website.