As Locust Projects enters its 15th year of operation, Chana Sheldon hits her stride as the gallery’s fearless leader.
Although Chana Sheldon has only been the executive director of Locust Projects for four years, she plans to celebrate the art institution’s 15th landmark anniversary as if she were one of the initial three founders. “It’s been exciting,” she says. “We just relocated to our biggest space ever and we now have 5,000 square feet in a storefront gallery. Our number of exhibitions have doubled and there’s lots of new public programming to get the community to hang out here.”
According to mom-to-be Sheldon, whose role requires her to schmooze with artists internationally, coordinate programming, and handle fundraising and community outreach efforts, Locust has fulfilled its mission of being “a place where artists can experiment without the limitations of a more conventional institution, where they can push forth in their work, explore their practice and even fail.”
Over the years, however, the success stories have significantly outweighed the letdowns. Take, for instance, the gallery’s 2011 public art project with artist Agustina Woodgate. “It was the largest scale commission she ever took on,” Sheldon recalls, referring to the holographic prints that were plastered on billboards all over the city during Basel. “We had no idea if it would work. It was a big risk.”
But work it did, and this past December Woodgate was (unofficially) rewarded as one of the few Miami-based artists chosen to exhibit at Basel.
As Sheldon sees it, the sun shines on Locust Projects more often than not. “This place amazes me every day,” she adds. “It’s a young organization that came from nothing, where the main goal was the development of culture here in Miami. Now we’re just working hard to keep our exhibitions as ambitious as possible.”
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