Tangent Lab, an art gallery that in recent months has survived as a concept rather than actual space, will make a temporary return to visibility downtown this Final Friday. The gallery, this time on Douglas between Larkspur and Wasabi restaurants—ground floor—will open its doors Friday (7 PM to midnight) and close a few weeks later. If it works like he thinks it will, gallery co-founder Brad Ruder will stage similar temporary shows from time to time, here and there.
After a six-year stay, the Tangent Lab on Rock Island in Old Town closed in March because of a building ownership change. Ruder promised disappointed art fans, however, that they had not seen the last of Tangent Lab. Gallery visitors would tell him that it had been one of their must-stops on Final Friday. And Ruder says he did not want to lose that following. He started looking around for a place that might work. The task, he says, was not simple, and so far has been the biggest challenge to the pop-up form. He wanted a space not already taken, so when people from shops or studios or boutiques offered the Tangent Lab some room, he continued to look. And he liked the idea of a low overhead, of finding a space for a particular show, “and then move on to another space.”
If those loyal fans are to this day skeptical about the gallery’s return, attribute some of that to Ruder’s adherence to the show’s theme. Some things are secret—including, up until last week, the location of the gallery. (He swears he was deliberately parceling out details—not dilly-dallying with space choices--and has enjoyed building the suspense for the event.)
Ruder and co-curator Dustin Parker invited twenty artists to submit work for the show; they wanted the work connected in some way with the concepts of secret identities and super-heroes, or work influenced by the graphics of pulp comics. Ruder says that for this show he has invited some graphic artists influenced by the style of pulp comics, including artists who have never shown their art in a gallery before. This week, he did not have a final line-up of the show’s pieces, but he mentioned some of the artists whose work would be part of the installation. Dustin Parker will not just be curating but will have his own work in the show; work by Wade Hampton, Marc Bosworth, and Lee Shiney are planned.
Ruder is optimistic about the possibilities of Tangent Lab hosting two or three shows a year as an occasional pop-up gallery in town.
“Tangent Lab has always been off the beaten path, a little bit. You had to go and find it,” Ruder says. And he wants to keep it that way, with shows worth finding. He wants each show to be an “event that if you didn’t make it to, you’d regret not being able to get there. Not in a bad way, just in a way that would make it a destination.”