Q & A: Ingrid Donaldson, Metalsmith & Owner of Blink Gallery

Written by Deborah Lewis Category: Visual Arts Issue: July 2016
Group Free

"Droplets" by Ingrid DonaldsonIngrid Donaldson is an artist, art teacher, gallery owner and advocate for local artists. The PHiX visited with her at her Scottsdale gallery Blink.

Donaldson proudly reports being kicked out of art school for not conforming. She dumped her corporate job 20 years ago, and made art her main gig.

 

What happened next?

I've never looked back. I do glass, casting and conceptual pieces. I needed a way to hang my art, so I learned how to weld. I did blacksmithing because that went along with welding. I went into metals because I had to further the glass that I was doing. I identify as a metalsmith because I can work very tiny to very, very large. I can work gold to platinum to steel.

"Shrooms" by Ingrid DonaldsonI love old-school craftsmanship. I teach a lot of ancient techniques here that could be lost. I have a hand-crank blacksmithing forge from the 1800's that I bought at an auction, and It’s my favorite. I made work based on an Egyptian technique for glass. I researched how they had done it, but I used modern technology. No building a forge out of bone or burying anything in a pit of sand. I actually used a kiln. I totally cheated.

There's mushroom pieces in Blink, and it's not because I'm a hippie. My mushrooms reflect bioremediation, using plants and fungus to remediate toxins out of the environment. It’s a very important aspect of what I create. I have some dark humor. I do some work that reflects my reaction to Pluto being demoted. I was really mad. You can't demote Pluto! It's not cool.

I have some things in here for the viewer to question what it's about or why it even exists. I like to have people actually look at stuff. Then, I know they are actually paying attention.

 

What is the history of your gallery Blink?

Blink was originally on Seventh Street and Roosevelt [Street] right on Roosevelt Row in Phoenix. It was working well, then the [economic] crash happened, and the corporation that runs Roosevelt Row made decisions that did not benefit the brick and mortar galleries. On first and third Fridays, space for tents was increased and a much younger crowd was cultivated.

So, I decided it was time to re-evaluate the situation. I closed Blink, and went and got a master’s degree at ASU in metalsmithing. I came out of school, and the opportunity came to re-open Blink in Scottsdale [in Marshall Square]. That’s where the buyers are.

 

What’s the best part of your situation now?

There were three things I really wanted since I landed in the art field: to have a gallery, to teach at the collegiate level, and to teach in the community. The gallery happened, my collegiate teaching happened [Donaldson heads the metalsmithing program at Scottsdale Community College], and Phoenix Center for the Arts asked me to teach classes again as head of their department. So, I have this little triangle I travel.

 

Blink Gallery sits in an out-of-the way corner near Tilt, Quantum and Sandbulte galleries. What’s the story of this art gallery corner?

We call our corner of Marshall Square ‘Off Main Galleries.’ We all know each other, and it's like being with family. Actually, it's better than family. We try to help and support each other. We all ended up here. It was serendipity. I don't think any of the galleries here are pretentious. We just want to hang out, show art, sell art and have a good time with people who come in. I think we all do pretty good.

 

"Alchemical" by Ingrid DonaldsonWhat’s your view on how to promote local art and artists?

I want to host other artists and get their work seen. I like to have fun as a gallery owner and host fun people. I try to represent my artists well. They're hand-picked. They are all local.

We have ceramics, painting, drawing, sculptural items, metalsmithing and jewelry. I have a guy who makes hand-raised bowls out of copper. They’re big, and they’re fabulous. I have a blacksmith who makes big sculptures. It's a good group, and I know them, and I trust them.

 

How much of your business is from tourists and how much from locals?

Ninety-five percent of the gallery business is from tourists. I’d like the locals to come see what’s going on, too, especially since they know what jalapeños are.

It's hard to get locals to come out. I don’t know why. We’re building a reputation here for fun. I planted a little urban garden out front with flowers and fresh vegetables, and I think that's fun and weird. We started to put pots out with jasmine. They bloom and smell wonderful. The feedback is that this is a very quaint and nice area. It's nice to sit outside in good weather. In the evenings we turn on the lights, and it's a great environment. In the fall, we’ll do demonstrations outside.

Right now, I have jalapeños growing in pots. Tourists ask what they are, and I say “Jalapeños. Want one?” They say “No.”

 

What would you like local art lovers to know?

There is new work to be seen, and new artists to be appreciated. Don’t miss out on the local artists! Local galleries don't have to exhibit artists from New York, although some of my artists have exhibited in New York. Local artists are cool, and we have some really neat stuff.

 

Ingrid DonaldsonContact Ingrid Donaldson at:
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ingriddonaldsondesign.com
7077 E. Main St., Stes 11 & 12, Scottsdale