Gallerist Aimee Friberg Champions Risk-Taking Artists in Her New NOPA Space
Contemporary art dealer Aimee Friberg has a penchant for edgy work that tackles big questions. Since founding her namesake venture, CULT / Aimee Friberg Exhibitions, in the Mission in 2013, the artist-curator has championed local and international talent like Desirée Holman, Rebekah Goldstein, Suzy Poling, Fritz Chestnut and Masako Miki and made waves with experimental programs both in and outside the physical gallery space. Now, with a new home for CULT opening in San Francisco’s NOPA district on October 20th, she reveals the gallery’s next chapter.
What differentiates CULT from a more traditional gallery?
I see CULT as a meeting place for formal and conceptual art. It’s more a community or a shared ideology than an austere, white-wall space with a singular aesthetic. Artists can take risks in the commercial market when they show here. In January, for example, I hosted a solo exhibition for Rhonda Holberton that included live mosquitoes hatching inside a net enclosure. We’re now touring the show to Transfer gallery in New York.
Tell us about the new gallery, which is sited in a shared creative space.
We now operate out of a converted carriage house near Fell and Divisadero known as Summer School. This evolving project space is the brainchild of local designer and designer-curator Renee Zellweger (not to be confused
with the actress) who is also a dear friend. CULT has 900 square feet on the first floor where we’ll host performances and screenings and present three or four exhibitions a year.
The opening exhibition features installation, sculpture and works on paper by a number of Mexico-based artists.
I’m working with five wonderful artists, primarily from Guadalajara–Eduardo Sarabia, Gabriel Rico, Gwladys Alonzo, Cynthia Guiterrez and Gonzalo Lebrija–on a show that’s partly about memory. Earlier this year I collaborated with the Mexican consulate to bring San Francisco collectors to Mexico City for the art fair. I’ve been thinking a lot about the California-Mexico border conversation and the intertwined histories of the regions while looking for ways to strengthen cultural dialogue. The show is not overtly political, but it’s certainly contextualizing place through perspective.
You work with emerging and mid-career artists primarily based on the West Coast. Is there a common thread of interest for you in their work?
I get most excited about artists who explore the human condition and what it means to be alive on the planet right now, either through content or medium. Process-based artists like Dan Gluibizzi, for instance. He starts with images that people post of themselves online—different selfies from Tumblr blogs, Instagram, Facebook—and coalesces them into a single image, which he then paints in watercolor. His take on a new kind of access to seeing and understanding each other is fascinating to me.
A version of this article appeared in the October 2017 issue of SFC&G (San Francisco Cottages & Gardens) with the headline: The Vanguardian.