tagDirector Charlotte Lee shares what life at Teen Art Gallery for a year was like.  The good, the bad and the ugly.  Thanks for sharing and the honesty! 


We have our first meeting of the year with our new T.A.G. Team. We don’t know each other that well yet and haven’t figured out how to work smoothly as a team. We need to decide out who will work on which aspects of the organization. Matthew Pasquarelli has already been improving the website. We set the date for the submissions period and all of us have the role of reaching out to different schools and art programs to solicit submissions. Chaya Howell will create fliers to put up in schools.  Everyone has interesting ideas It is a lively discussion; we talk about the website, fundraising, a possible TAG Zine, and the exhibitions.


Submissions start off pretty slowly.  But soon we get help from some pretty great organizations. Scholastic Art and Writing sends out an email on our behalf and the College Art Association posts our solicitation. I write an article for Huff Post Teen about our process and the submissions begin to come in.  A young teen named Sofía Calatrava contacted me in August and proposed an idea that would help T.A.G. raise some funds. She told us that she would like to organize her own art exhibition and to donate the proceeds to us.  Kristjan Tomasson and I visit her studio. It seems like a great collaboration. We help promote her show. She finds a beautiful space for her work, her opening is packed and she is very successful with sales. 


Vivian Guo is helping create a featured artist section of the website. We want to show as much art as possible on our site. We ask artists Clara Lu and Wesley Carr if we could have permission to feature their artwork first. We try to get sponsorship from an art supply company. Gina Yu makes a nice color portfolio presentation however we don’t get a sponsorship. Maybe in the future.


I start looking for space by emailing galleries and contacting friends of friends and of my parents. Cyndie Berthezene, founder of HiArt, an innovative art program for children, offers us her space. I took art classes with her when I was four. It is funky and messy but many families pass through there. We hope to increase our viewership. We are offered the month of May. We decide to have two shows since this space is small and we may not be able to include as many works as we like.


We continue reaching out to galleries for a larger space, and getting new submissions

We have a late January meeting and invite a new person to attend, Shiraz Fazli. I am excited because she knows how to do WordPress and she can help with the site and because she is only a sophomore she will be around to transition the next team.


Submissions are finally closed. We have received at least 800. Some artists send us 40 images and others send only 1. I spend the month narrowing it down to a manageable selection based on technical skill and conceptual thought. The T.A.G. voting process begins by putting the initial selection in a Facebook album so our entire team can vote. Whichever images get the most “likes,” become apart of the show. I meet with the owner of a gallery with an amazingly large storefront on 24th Street. I am so excited, but after a few weeks of deliberating, she does not think we are the right fit. It is disappointing.

Another gallery that I reach out to does not offer us a space but offers to interview me so that we can promote T.A.G.  This is the interview

Through a friend of my parents we get in contact with chashama and they offer us two weeks in July at their space though they are not sure if it will be their Chelsea or Harlem location They end up giving us the Chelsea space, which we are very excited about because it is a prime location in the art world.


We contact the artists who we want to show. It is surprising how some artists email back immediately and others don’t respond at all and need to be tracked down for their confirmation. I have come to the conclusion that most teens do not check their email daily. One artist from Michigan is unable to participate and another never gets back to us.  But otherwise everyone is extremely excited. Next year I will work on the submissions form and make it more of a contract. We decide to make the exhibition at HiArt all black and white work. We think it will help it stand out amidst the artsy chaos of the space.


We spend this month making checklists for our 2 shows and contacting artists asking and re-asking for their statements. We also take a group T.A.G. team photograph for press purposes. Mack Muldofsky assists with press release since he is a very strong writer. He also is responsible for coordinating and heading the selection of creative writing that will be in the July show. Chaya Howell designs a great announcement card for our HiArt show. It takes a lot of time so I hope she won’t mind doing it again in June. She is graduating from high school so I have to keep in mind that we will soon need someone that is good with graphics.


In early May we install the work at HiArt!  Kristjan Tomassson helps but we also hire someone professional. This process takes hours. Kristjan and I give our opinions on how high or low the pieces should be hung and which artworks should be on the same wall. We want to make sure that the show looks as sophisticated as possible.  Vivian Guo and Britina Cheng have coordinated all of the artist bios and statements and compiled them into a notebook. We have a successful Sunday afternoon opening. Time In is an interdisciplinary arts immersion program that brings underserved children from Harlem and the South Bronx into the world of the living arts as part of their regular school day. It is part of HiArt. Sales from our show will benefit the program. TAG members, Britina Cheng and Chaya Howell spend a day working with students.

I miss school one day to go with my mother to sign the chashama contract. We decide not to sign it that day because she has liability questions and wants to talk to my father. After they discuss, it’s official and we sign!

We are on a quest for future T.A.G. members. We are looking for rising sophomores and juniors. Sasha Frolova creates a questionnaire for potential members to answer. This is a helpful way to learn about new members.


The focus quickly turns to the chashama show. It’s a bigger exhibit. Sometimes I stop delegating because tracking down help can be tough.  My home is filled with art; artwork that has not yet been picked up from the HiArt show and artwork coming in for the chashama show. I keep in contact with the artists about their dates of drop-off and pick up. Thank goodness for my helpful elevator men. Danielle Gamady is in charge of finding us a performance for the opening. She has secured the Jacobins, a band of friends from LaGuardia High School. They will be doing an acoustic performance.

One of the best parts about being involved with T.A.G. is working with other teen groups. I contacted Geneva Gleason who founded a teen zine called TAP.  She suggested I interview two or three T.A.G. artists for the next few issues. Issue 27 just came out. http://www.tapmagazine.net/ I think getting press for the artists is one of the most important things we can do. I also support many teen run events and websites. When a magazine or organization contacts me asking us to promote them, I gladly do it.

This season we decided to create a YouTube channel. We hope to add films throughout the year. Ilana Roth created the channel and Matthew Pasquarelli has been adding the films. One of the filmmakers, Rebecca Aydin, will have artwork in both the exhibition and on the channel. Her works are all connected to each other.


This will be a busy month with installation, receiving last minute pieces of art, and reaching out to teens and adults to visit the show. One of our most important challenges is having a lot of viewers. I tell all the T.A.G. members to invite their friends and family. Facebook and Twitter come in handy for this purpose. I hang announcement cards up in various coffee shops, art stores and on bookstore bulletin boards. Gina Yu is printing up all the creative writing for display and Shiraz Fazli is making the binder of statements. I think I should include a portfolio of all the press T.A.G. has received. We will open the show on July 10th at 6:00 pm.


Sleep, swim, and think about next year.