Kevin Krueger and Kristin Olson Are Gracious Hosts at Alter Space

When CCA alumni (and married couple) Kevin Krueger and Kristin Olson (both Individualized Major 2011) were looking around the Bay Area for an affordable studio the year after graduation, they found their dream space at 1158 Howard Street in San Francisco, formerly the home of leather bondage shop Stormy Leather.

There was just one problem: With its multiple ground floor rooms, basement areas, and loft, it was simply too large for their needs. "We didn't know what to do at first with that much space," remembers Krueger. But then the answer presented itself: They opened up their more-than-enough studio to a larger community of friends and colleagues. Staring in January 2012, the newly named Alter Space began hosting a series of exhibitions, workshops, and live performances.

What's Left Behind

There will be a public reception for their most ambitious show yet, What's Left Behind (on view through August 19) this Friday, June 29, 2012, from 7-10 p.m. The show features works by numerous CCA alumni, including

Zina Al-Shukri (MFA 2009), Alexis Arnold, William Emmert (MFA 2012), Julian Farmar-Bowers (Printmaking 2011), Marcel R. Patzwald (Printmaking 2012), Meghan Martin, Maja Ruznic (MFA 2009), Esther Samuels-Davis (Printmaking 2009), Cianna Valley (Printmaking 2011), Imin Yeh (MFA 2009), and COLPA PRESS, with a collaborative installation by the Alter Space Collective: Koak, Cody Krueger, and Kevin Krueger with Nanna Kreutzmann.

For this collaborative project, the traditional white-walled gallery has been transformed through layers of print and paint to create the fictional setting of an abandoned house. The installation asks visitors to consider what happens when artist, art, and fictional space are in conversation and begin to negotiate the dramatic interplay between forgotten spaces and the remnants of what we leave behind.

A series of live performances and events will take place throughout the summer in conjunction with this show. Imin Yeh and Maja Ruznic will perform live on Saturday, July 28, 2012, from 10 am-6 pm. For their piece, titled Undoing the Ball, they will spend an entire workday deconstructing a three-year collection of discarded human-made detritus, scraps, and trash. The organized and processed by-product will be available for sale at the end of the eight-hour work session.

See and their Facebook page for info on additional events.

Jail Cells & Peepholes

A few remnants of the Stormy Leather store have been retained by Krueger and Olson. They turned an actual jail cell in the basement into the Jail Cell Residency, a place for artists to get some real quiet time. The inaugural inmate/resident was Matt Silady, an acclaimed graphic novelist and CCA faculty member (he is one of Olson’s former professors). The peepholes ringing the ground floor bathrooms are now Peephole Galleries, with the holes enlarged to expose artists' dioramas that are no less engaging and surprising than what might have been on display in previous years.

Krueger and Olson's only rule regarding what they show is that there must be an emphasis on diversity in both the medium and the subject matter. "We want each exhibition to have a range," explains Krueger, "I can't think of any type of art we wouldn't consider showing."

Jail Cell Resident Matt Silady praises the couple's can-do spirit: "It takes a lot of guts, just a year out of college, to open up a gallery where other artists can feel at home and be inspired."

The Bowery

In addition to the changing exhibits and workspaces, Olson has a permanent installation, The Bowery, on the main floor. Featuring what she calls physical manifestations of an upcoming graphic novel, it includes characters and their environs on display in miniature and full-size dioramas. These minute worlds are mesmerizing and unsettling in their intricate detail, and Olson promises that they will evolve and change, so that there's always something new to see.

The couple admits that it's been a challenge, albeit a welcome one, to balance their own creative practices with the day-to-day job of being gallerists. "We're really happy getting to do what we love and make things, but we're always looking for that balance between our work and the Alter Space." Krueger smiles, "It'll just take some time."