First Williamsport, then the world
On an early Monday afternoon, Casey Gleghorn was waiting inside of a dark Converge Gallery, looking at artwork on Facebook as he passed the time before a meeting.
“What do you think of this one?” he asked a fellow employee. She is part of another creative operation that he runs called The Graphic Hive. It focuses on the more modern creative problems, like graphic and web design.
The artwork they looked at is an abstract piece by Ryan Hewett, a South African artist who showed at Converge, and whose artwork Gleghorn recently sold out of at an exhibition in New York City.
The piece, posted on Hewett’s Facebook page, uses acrylic and charcoal on canvas to evoke a sort of subtle eerie feeling. The dark, jagged edges come together to create a black form that looks something like a hazy, distorted phantom or demon that might lurk in the cornered depths of some poor soul’s nightmare.
Even on the days off from being Converge’s director, Casey Gleghorn is still busy scouring the Internet for new opportunities, or keeping up with artists Converge has represented, while also doing what artists do best – picking the brains of others in effort to understand their emotional reactions to a piece of artwork. To him, there’s few things more important in life.
“Art is about experience and the human condition,” Gleghorn said during an interview, adding the discussions that artwork evokes are important to him, especially as a gallery owner.
Back in the gallery, his co-worker’s reaction to Hewett’s piece wasn’t of the utmost enthusiasm, but perhaps she was that above-mentioned poor soul.
Gleghorn has worked tirelessly over the course of his life to reach where he is now, and continues to work and push himself, sometimes to the emotional edge, to keep growing Converge into something bigger than he could have ever dreamed of. Converge Gallery, having started just a few years ago, has evolved from a community presence, to a national presence, to a worldwide presence. In the near future, Gleghorn has plans to travel as far as Rome; recently the gallery announced representation of Rome-based Russian artist Ekaterina Panikanova.
“Converge Gallery has certainly helped put Williamsport on the art map. They’re not the only ones, but they’ve taken steps far beyond where this town has previously gone,” said Jeremiah Johnson, central Pennsylvania native and longtime supporter of the gallery.
“Celebrity Artist Mark Kostabi exhibits here in Williamsport now and the famous art critic Jerry Saltz took notice of Converge Gallery’s first pop up exhibition held in Chelsea, N.Y., just last spring. Also, it’s bringing international artists here from as far away as Paris, France (Matthew Rose),” Johnson said.
He noted that because of the excitement, the gallery has helped “up the value” and emphasize the importance of art in the community.
“I would like to believe that artists all over the region are seeing a boost in notoriety and sales because of it,” Johnson said.
Beyond the community, Gleghorn thinks much of this worldwide expansion, both for Converge specifically but also the art world in general, has to do with the advent of social media and it’s power in promoting interconnectivity. He sees it as a positive thing, in that now communities like Williamsport are able to see international artwork that they may not have had the opportunity to before.
“Ideas are transferred and exchanged at a rapid, rapid rate. Trends leave just as fast as they come in,” Gleghorn said.
“So I think maybe 10, maybe 20 years from now, we’re going to start seeing the Internet and social media as the beginning of a new movement. Everything is getting jumbled together in a sort of chaotic form. There are just so many different ideas being mashed together throughout the whole world,” he said.
His recent travels across the country, which spanned over six weeks (and said it was the longest he had been gone from anywhere), included New York City, N.Y.; Los Angeles, Calif.; and Chicago, Ill.
He called these recent travels for the gallery a gamble, since they’re taking the gallery’s profits in order to invest and network. But it has proved to be a positive gamble, since they were able to “meet some pretty big movers and shakers in the art world,” he said.
In Chicago, Converge was represented at a show called Fountain Art Fair, held in September. Local artist Liz Parrish, who has a solo show in the works at Converge, showed at the art fair along with other international artists, like Australia-native pop artist Johnny Romeo.
“I’m excited because my work has never been as far west as Chicago. My work was in a group show at Gallery Bar Chicago. I’ve been following the gallery on Facebook and it seems like a really cool place. I’m very grateful to Converge for taking my art across the country,” Parrish said.
In Chicago, Gleghorn met the president and CEO of Palm Beach Show Group and owner of the L.A. Art Show, which claims to be the “longest running venue for contemporary, modern, historic and traditional art in the country.” (laart show.com.)
Gleghorn learned soon after his return back to Williamsport, that thanks to networking and hard work, Converge Gallery was accepted to show at the 2014 L.A. Art Show, which will be held Jan. 15-19. According to the site, the 2013 art show hosted more than 100 prominent galleries and drew more than 56,000 visitors.
Gleghorn is thankful for all of these opportunities, but emphasizes it hasn’t all come easy.
“None of us [who started Converge Gallery] were born with a silver spoon in our mouths,” Gleghorn said.
Regardless all of the inevitable obstacles – costs, criticism, competition – Gleghorn and Converge continue to push the limits in order to get their artists’ names out there.
“Before Converge Gallery opened up, artists couldn’t imagine selling more than one or two pieces a year in this town. There was always plenty of places to display work, but not a real commercial gallery. It was time for that next step, and Casey and John (Yogodzinski, co-director of Converge) made it happen and are pushing it far beyond that,” Johnson said.
To stay up to date with Converge’s endeavors, like their Facebook page, www.facebook.com/convergegallerypa.