Meagan Lewis, manager of the WAL Public Market gallery
A Sacramento native who spent several years out of state, Meagan Lewis recently returned to the area and became the new Warehouse Artist Lofts Public Market gallery manager. For the last eight years she has been working as an artist and running her handcarved rubber stamps and logo business Brown Pigeon. She is also the author of the craft book Put Your Stamp On It. Lewis is overseeing the WAL exhibit this May, called Future Shock after a 1970 book of the same title by Alvin Toffler. Using this inspiration, artists are reflecting the themes of technology outpacing human ability to cope, including a variety of media, from textiles to a live haircut performance. In addition to being an artist, running WAL’s gallery and authorship, Lewis is a self-described “maker” and VHS collector.
What is Future Shock as an art theme all about?
[It’s] a group show of about 15 artists. Each of their pieces is their interpretation on what Future Shock means to them. … One artist, Amanda Cook, did a commentary on dating in the modern world and the weird things that happen between modern romance and sexting. … She did a commentary piece on dick pics. Her piece is actually a textile collage. Her concept is to basically make a visual piece … out of something that’s very much a modern weird thing, and offensive, and plays with these social dilemmas that we have.
What does a book written in 1970 mean for us today?
[The book] is about technology and how it speeds up so rapidly to the point that people can’t keep up with it and it puts us in a state of shock. [It] was written in 1970, but it’s very relevant right now. With social media and all the things that we have to keep up with day-to-day, we’re kind of like zombies at the end of the day.
What’s it like being the WAL Public Market gallery manager?
It’s been really exciting. It’s a challenge, but I’m loving it so far. My background is in fine art. … I got out of school wondering what to do with my degree. I started making block prints and selling them. … I started my company Brown Pigeon. … I was doing that for about nine years. I came back here three years ago. It was a blank slate for me. … Seeing how connected the art scene is here, I wanted to be even more involved, especially after going to exhibits recently like Art Hotel and Art Street. … This position has been great because I’m really passionate about the space and about what WAL has brought to the whole R Street Corridor.
How do you feel about Sacramento’s art scene since coming back to your home city?
I’m excited by it. I think it’s really amazing. Again, coming from my business side of things, I was getting really well-acquainted with what people are calling the “maker scene.” It’s amazing how many product makers we have here in Sacramento. There’s different facets of creative people in Sacramento and I see everything as working together. There are people doing murals, there are people who are doing fashion, and then there are people who are doing paintings. I think it’s exciting in the sense that people are doing so many different types of things. … Art is being taken to the streets. It’s not just this highbrow thing anymore for collectors. It’s something that we can all look at and appreciate. I think Sacramento’s doing something kind of groundbreaking in that regard.
What do you think art has to say about psychology?
This is such a good question, I’m so glad you asked this; because for me personally in the last three years, I moved up here because of a relationship that ended. Coming here and re-establishing my roots was a chance for me to reinvent … and figure out who I am. I’ve done a lot of personal growth. It’s been amazing to me to see how my initial love of art is helping me self-discover and figure myself out. … My favorite type of art is abstract art and … abstract expressionism. I went to an art show with a friend recently, and she and I have completely opposite artistic taste. I was pointing out paintings that were speaking to me, a lot of which were very simple or abstract. She said “I hate that painting.” It made me realize two things. One, if you hate something, why do you hate it? What is it bringing up for you? If you hate something, I’ve found in my personal growth that it’s a projection of something. [Second,] when people see abstract art … they say anybody could do that. I think, “Well, why the fuck does that matter?” Why does it have to be something that anybody could do that devalues it? Maybe a painting is meant to be a painting. If it’s really simple … why does that upset somebody? Those are the things that I think connect [art] to psychology and personal growth and connection.
How did the live haircut performance go? Any surprises?
That happened opening night. It was performed by the artist Nelson Loskamp, it was really interesting. It was shocking really. It was a really interesting commentary on vanity and looks and hair as our power. It tied into the show really well because it was a state of shock watching that performance. … A lot of people were freaked out by the idea of getting their hair cut, but we had three people volunteer, and it was a really captivating performance.
Tell me something surprising about yourself.
People are surprised that I have a collection of VHS tapes. They’re nostalgic and a conversation starter. Plus, you can’t have The Breakfast Club on digital!