An Odd New Gallery

by Sara Liner, February 3, 2010

An Odd Party

Tucked away, up a narrow staircase above Tangents--on the corner of Main and Laurel in Fort Bragg--sits Odd Hours, an art gallery and studio space run by local artists Jason Cowan and Inga Petersen. “How refreshing, “ said one attendee at Studio Odd’s recent Friday night invitational showing. “I don’t see a single sunset or seagull in any of these pieces.” Throughout Odd Hours’ three Victorian rooms partygoers milled about carrying glasses of wine, and even the occasional well swaddled baby, studying work by the gallery’s featured local artists. Though varied in technique and subject matter, each artist’s work conveys a weltanschauung stretching well beyond the usual pastoral fare on which so many coastal artists have made their living.

From Jacob Hewko’s psychedelic surf scenes with 1960’s bikini clad girls to Nicholas Heller’s shellacked one-act absurdist coasters, the atmosphere at Odd Hours is decidedly playful, eccentric and do-it yourself. Jubal Stedman’s beautifully realist oil and acrylic renderings of otherworldly women contrast nicely on the walls with Inga Petersen’s abstract paintings. Petersen, like her partner Jason Cowan, is clearly adept in a range of mediums and styles: there is a playfulness and ease with which their work jumps from subject to subject. For a moment this writer felt as though she’d been transported to an Artwalk evening in Brooklyn or Oakland. It was refreshing to see so many young people out and about on a rainy Friday night in the name of art.

The vibe at Odd Hours is in many ways a direct reflection of Cowan and Petersen’s demeanors: quirky, entertaining and thoughtful. I had a chance to ask Cowan some questions about his vision for Odd Hours and what he hopes it will continue to contribute to the local art scene.

Sara Liner: How long has Odd Hours been happening?

Jason Cowan: I leased the space at the beginning of 2009. I was looking for a place to use both as a working studio, as well as location that might at some point in the future have some retail/gallery potential.

Using the existing First Friday Night Art Walk as a platform, we held our first Open Studio in August of 2009. We have held four open studios and two invitation only parties at Studio Odd Hours since then. The Open Studios are held still held during the First Friday Night events, and the "parties'" have been held on alternate Friday nights as a way to stay connected with, and show appreciation to the folks who have expressed interest in what it is that we are doing.

SL: What was the impetus behind starting up the gallery? Where do you see yourself going?

JC: I have always wanted to paint and create. I have finally reached a place in my life where I have come to understand that life is short, and that if you don't want to "waste" it, then you had better get busy on those things that matter to you.

The business model for the studio is evolving. 2009 was a year for establishing a presence, and for building up a core group of participants whose work I appreciate and respect,

2009 was also a time for establishing a routine and discipline around creating new works (these things don't paint themselves). 2010 is the year that we will be focusing on making the Studio into a viable operation.

SL: Do you have an operating philosophy or mission for Odd Hours?

JC: The intent of the studio / gallery is to produce and display varieties of work that are not represented anywhere else on the Coast (that I am aware of).

However, it is not just about showing something "different or weird"; what I want to do is present works that are moving, thought provoking, meaningful... real, honest, challenging... I want to see things that aren't "nice and easy" ... or worse, completely pointless.

I want to show works that are significant and worthwhile, both as something to create as well as to view and experience.

The mission is actually rather grand; it is to change the tone of the local "art" scene. When I look around this community, I don't see much in the way of work that is appears to me to be particularly relevant to people with modern sensibilities or aesthetics... and am not talking about Modern Art per se either, I'm talking about not seeing any art around here that bears any relationship to the lives that people are living now, today...

This community is changing, it is trying very hard not to become a roadside relic. If this is truly an "Artist's Community", then the quality and caliber of the creative works produced around here should be at forefront of that transition.

Odd Hours will be participating in February’s upcoming First Friday Artwalk event. While they do not as of yet keep regular business hours (hence the name) if you happen to be in the Fort Bragg area and are interested in seeing what Odd Hours has to offer, you may make an viewing appointment by calling : 707-357-0338

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