Gabba Gallery Goes Virtual – But Keeps Community Spirit Strong
Written by Genie Davis
For gallery owner and artist Jason Ostro, it’s always been about serving the community. He’s committed to creating an inclusively good time, whether painting murals that help revitalize a neighborhood, introducing new artists to art lovers, or opening Gabba Gallery itself. The gallery is well known for hosting packed, happy, egalitarian openings that feature every kind of terrific art from fine art to wildly fun pop to street art.
For now, due to the Covid-19 pandemic, Gabba Gallery has gone virtual. But that doesn’t mean it’s brick and mortar space is leaving, or that Ostro’s own sense of social spirit has dimmed.
“We have converted to a 97% virtual gallery; we have been trying to do projects that would be reasonable to people in the sense of affordability and size. By doing so, we have kept some of our higher price-points for artists, but also opened up our print program as well,” Ostro relates.
Gabba is keeping a regular schedule of monthly openings, just as in pre-pandemic times, but has not hopped on the Zoom-centric gallery bandwagon just yet, preferring to simply open and exhibit dazzling group shows like the music-themed Remix, and the about-to-open Jules Much exhibition, Let the Cats Out.
“We have discussed doing some zooms and walk-through virtual shows, but haven’t scheduled them yet. Right now, we are looking at doing a special show October 15th with artist Justin Helton. There will definitely be an online opening event for that.”
The October show marks Helton’s 15th art anniversary. “It’s particularly special because he is a contemporary and gig print artist who has worked with everything from fine art to his work at Status Seriograph illustration, and design work for concert posters such as the Grateful Dead, Van Morrison, Phish,, and Dave Mathews,” Ostro says. “It will be a full collection of his work for the last fifteen years. We are discussing being open by appointment. We are open to the idea, and have had a few people come in here and there.”
Coming right up is an exhibition by Jules Muck opening online September 17th. Muck will have two prints dropping at the same time as the show’s 11 a.m. opening; and she will be releasing another the following Saturday. And on two other Tuesdays, she will drop prints celebrating Ruth Bader Ginsberg that will benefit a yet-to-be-named charity. The prints will of course be via Gabba’s own imprint. Ostro adds that “After Helton’s show, comes our annual holiday Wish List mid-November. We’d love to be able to do Wish List in person, but we are probably not looking at live shows again until sometime in 2021.”
Ostro says he especially missed having the just-closed Remix show run live. The annual exhibition was always a popular success. “In the past, we’d have 600 or 700 people there to start up our crazy fall/winter program. We miss being physically with the community and being able to share art in that respect. We have had to postpone some shows that would have seen better lives in-person than online. But, sometimes the art is in the details you can only see in real life and in person, not online. Not having live shows doesn’t mean we aren’t working hard; we’re just staying more behind the scenes for now.”
Prints have become a big and beautiful thing for Gabba and the artists involved in it.
“The print program has allowed us to introduce a lot of artists to online communities that are used to buying art all year ‘round such as pop culture projects and music/band related art. Prints have been a chance to introduce new artists to that market, which is another realm of those who buy,” Ostro says.
Outside the gallery space, Ostro and his other gallerist, Elena Jacobson, are discussing creating murals for a new alley space in the gallery neighborhood. “But it’s been difficult talking to our neighbors due to COVID,” he asserts. “We’re also talking about redoing murals in our general area, such as the 7-11 murals and our parking lot again.”
In short, despite the limitations of the pandemic, “Gabba Gallery has figured out a way to be with our community and stay solvent, and basically continue bringing cool art and projects to the community,” according to Ostro.
Naturally as an artist, he is also working on some of his own art. “I’ve had new commissions for a home mural and a mural for a restaurant, and I’ve done some cool print releases myself through Gabba. Nothing extraordinary,” he demurs.
Ostro may be modest, but his, and the gallery’s commitment to the art community, it’s immediate neighborhood, and art itself is extraordinary indeed.
Gabba Gallery’s Jules Muck exhibition opened September 17th.