Circuit 12 Contemporary was started by Dustin and Gina Orlando.
How did you get started in Dallas and name the gallery?
Dustin: So when we moved to Dallas we went around to a lot of different galleries. And there was good work, but there wasn’t a lot of energy going on. It seemed a little stagnant. So when we talked about opening the space, we talked about bringing some kind of energy into the art scene. So, Circuit is like a continuous flow of energy and the 2012 is when Luca was born, and that was the first year the gallery was open. So Circuit 12. Gina more or less came up with the name, it made sense like that.
What are the steps you take for curating?
Gina: That’s more of my place. I am a crazy, maniacal researcher to the point of insanity. To me, it’s just an extension of my own natural curiosity. I basically utilize the Internet and other tools that weren’t more readily available to us say back twenty years ago.
D: A lot of the artists we work with are friends with other artists. Then we have a retention of artists that are in the roster for shows that we are our booking a year out.
G: I would say more importantly our curatorial vision kind of extends into what we ourselves are drawn to and think are relevant, and providing that in a setting that might not be as accessible as it should be here in Dallas. So it’s really also about public awareness and allowing the community to interact with artwork in a nice setting that’s taken seriously. It’s not just a pop up this or that or whatever, and it’s actually really creating a network of contemporary art that is both relevant and very much needed here in Dallas where a lot of people think they need to go other places to see this stuff. In our experience too, we’ve lived all over the place. We’ve worked in a lot of different art markets. We were in Miami for years, I was on the East Coast for years, and between Austin and New York. We’ve taken a lot of that experience and the people we’ve met, and markets, and sort of used all of that as a point of departure to start what we’re doing here and also a point of, I mean it’s not a complete point of departure to where we’re not working with that anymore, we are still expanding upon those ideas and revisioning how we can work with those artists we may already know…
D: Also, curating a program. When we go into doing a schedule for example, we buy by season so it’s like, “this is how winter to spring will look. It’ll be these three shows, or these two shows.” And then we’ll usually plan that like a year in advance. We’re kinda already seeing what the transition is going to look like. It’s kind of like designing the steps to getting through years worth of art shows. Every now and then, we might run into a situation where we’re like, “hey we’ve got some time, let’s throw together an art show.’ Those are usually just like, “let’s go get our friends together and hang a bunch of work and have fun. And make it look good. And have it have some sellability. And make it some kind of thematic, conceptual contribution,” but really it’s those situations that just kind of happen.
I didn’t know you guys planned ahead like that.
G&D together: Oh yeah.
G: We have already started booking in 2017.
D: The show we have in September, we’ve been working with the guy since 2012 on the idea for it. You have to have that much time. There’s no way you can produce the kind of work we wanna show that fast. Plus, when you’re going, here’s a good example, that’s about bringing people from other markets here. This guy is from Quebec and just that whole process of getting his work from country to country, going through customs. Then, trying to get people here early enough to get interested in that person’s work. Find out more about them through their time and research, which never fucking happens. People just show up and are like, “this is cool! Who’s the painter?” We want to really kind of bring stuff here that goes beyond that crowd of people and all that. We just want to be able to do stuff far enough out to really generate some interest, so if we’re bringing something from say, Canada to here. Because what does it really matter geographically? I guess it doesn’t. What matters is what’s the best work that we can get. And a lot of times that has to go farther than where we live.
In terms of that, when you look at a piece, what to you
determines that you want this in your gallery?
G: First of all, everything that I always want is gone. All my favorite stuff. 9.8 out of 10 times my first pick will always be accounted for. So, then I have to rely upon my back up. And my backup is usually gone too. So sometimes it turns into, unless you’re working with an artist that is directly making you specific work, you run into that problem a lot. It’s a lot of push and pull and compromise and just being able to get what you can get.
So that’s how you pick?
D: When we’re working with people who have a concept for a show, when you’re talking about something a year out, that usually is to create the entire script of the show, so to speak. Like this is going to represent this, and that’s how the work gets made. And that’s how the work that’s already made gets selected for it. Then it’s also, how is this also going to look together. How are these pieces going to communicate with each other and the layout of the show. It’s not just, “hey that’s a fucking cool ass painting.”
Do you ever see anything and wonder, how can we make this work with what we’re doing?
G: All the time.
D: That’s what we are doing with this guy from Canada. We found him at an art fair in 2012. We walked in and he had this amazing piece right near the entrance, and we were like, “fuck that’s so amazing. Wouldn’t it be cool to have something like that in the space?” Because it was in the grand entrance of the fair. Anyway the guy came up to our booth and was just like, “I love what you guys do.” And we started befriending him and he said, “I made that.” And we were like, “you’re the guy who made that?” And he said he wanted to work with us. And we were like, “hell yeah! How do we do it though?” And so that’s just how it’s been. When we met him in 2012, he already had stuff booked for 2013 into 2014. And now we are going into 2015, which is us. That’s why things like that take so long. That’s usually how it happens. You find something and you’re like, “shit we have to have that for what we are doing.” Just through the things we are interested in we are able to learn.
G: You have to strike in the right moment too. There are times where you’ll find someone and you might be able to work with them at that point, but if you don’t, a year later they might be super big and then we can’t. It’s also a lot about striking at the right moment not too soon, because I’ve done it too soon and the person hasn’t really been ready yet, and then they go on to be fucking huge. Like two years later…
D: You can never tell with that stuff. You just do what you like to do. You can see signs that point towards that.
G: You have to be well-informed about what’s going on as a whole in the art world and where to make insightful decisions about your own programming. But at the same time, not letting other people’s curatorial decisions incite what you are doing. You kinda have to have a critical distance to appreciate and have a general understanding of what is going on around you, and what is needed and what is not needed. “What’s there too much of, what is the trend, and what’s something that’s timeless?” There’s lots of questions you have to ask yourself before actually committing to getting something to the gallery you’re working with.
INTERVIEW BY NATASHA BRITO