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Part I: A Conversation with Jennifer Perlow of PS: Gallery on We’re in this Together

Your sneak peek at a new art show in Columbia, Mo.

Recently, I sat down with Jennifer Perlow, co-owner and executive curator of PS:Gallery in downtown Columbia, to talk about the current, featured show at PS and the arts in Columbia. Because our conversation yielded more food-for-thought that can fit into one blog post, please enjoy Part 1 of our conversation with Part 2 to follow next week.

When I stopped by PS on a Tuesday morning, the place was buzzing and morning light bounced off the original, rough wood floors and onto the white walls. Ragtag Cinema was installing its massive, promotional mascot, Lumen, in the front window, the previous “Hallery” (the gallery in the side hallway) show for Autism was being taken down for the upcoming Billy O’Donnell show, Along the Waterways, and Perlow was busy entertaining questions about the jewelry items encased along the west brick wall — some of which Perlow makes. Works from the featured show, We’re in this Together, are presented in the front of the gallery.

We’re in this Together is a contemporary book show hung alongside one of PS:Gallery’s quarterly shows and it offers surprising and fun works of art for visitors to interact with, and in some cases collaborate with, performance-based books and book-like objects. From paper mache cow udders to a playful crime scene or a newspaper dispenser covered in gold glitter, the show features works that are visually and physically engaging as well as diverse in subject matter and materials used. Homages to past artists are made alongside explorations of maps, the promise and power of books and themes of play, language, performance and current events.

The exhibit is curated by former PS:Gallery intern Kim Wardenburg and is part of a set of ancillary exhibits to the upcoming Cultural Bricolage conference on Cuban publishing collective Ediciones Vigía being held the University of Missouri-Columbia, Nov. 11-13. Wardenberg describes the exhibit in her curatorial statement, “Each of these books or book-like objects was created in relation to an installation, performance, or event. … We’re in this Together explores books as devices for improvisational performance, navigation, and interaction within an environment extending beyond the books themselves.”

The eight works complicate our expectation of the construction and function of books, and at first-glance are a little overwhelming. After spending time with the pieces however, the viewer understands each piece as an unfolding narrative, commemorative of a small, experience contained in the material of the piece’s construction. After more interaction with the works, and perhaps repeated distancing from and returning to each one, the viewer might come to understand their experience to exist outside of their self and the object and instead to occur somewhere in between the two.

When talking about the show, Perlow remarked that it takes effort to engage with, and isn’t the subject matter or genre she typically likes to show. “It was fun to be able to do this and really feature a bunch of performance pieces. I try to show things that maybe aren’t necessarily in the Midwest comfort zone.” This show not only does just that with art, but also with the ways in which viewers are asked to interact with the art: to take this, touch that or flip this.

Join in on the action at We’re in this Together’s reception, Nov. 13, from 6-9pm and experience a youthful and smart show that will make you stop and reconsider the act of book reading. Stop by for tapas, wine and great art, ceramics and jewelry.

One Look Reception for We’re in this Together

Nov. 13, 6-9pm


1025 E. Walnut


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