1086 W. Edgeware Rd.
Los Angeles, CA 90026
In one sentence:
Inspired by nature, River will carve out its own path.
Who is River?
Carl E. Smith:
Director Carl E. Smith has organized and produced exhibitions and other art events in California and internationally for the past two decades. Smith opened his first gallery in the Czech Republic 15 years ago, curating young artists into their first exhibitions. He has advocated for artists on commercial and fine art platforms between Prague, his hometown of Laguna Beach and subsequently, CES Gallery, in Downtown LA—all with the intention of fostering artistic vision and creating community. He is passionate about art and is dedicated to helping emerging artists through the crucial first stages of their careers, while providing more established artists with unique opportunities.
The River Residency is an annual artist residency created to support national and international artists that are based outside of the major international art centers.
The River Residency seeks to: support the international art community by helping emerging artists; to provide a platform for an artist through the public presentation of their work; to give the Artists-In-Residence an opportunity to engage with other artists and events in Los Angeles; and to promote national and international exchanges of ideas and artistic endeavors. Established in 2019, the residency continues the gallery’s overall mission of art advocacy.
The River Fellowship is an annual program designed to support Los Angeles-based artists, established in 2016. The Fellowship program guides an artist through the exhibition-making process. Annually, one artist is awarded up to a year long fellowship to develop and exhibit a project at River.
What I like about this program:
It is refreshing to see a commercial gallery supporting the careers of artists, both locally and around the globe. I wish more galleries would follow River’s lead. Also, there is no submission fee (a pet peeve of mine!)
Asked & Answered:
1. What in particular made you decide to create your space for artists? Is there a specific story or incident that propelled you in this direction?
I have organized and produced exhibitions and other art events in California and internationally for the past two decades. In the late 90’s, after participating in several group show at the Manes gallery in Prague, I was asked to curate a show of emerging artists. I became deeply interested in meeting and supporting younger artists. I subsequently, opened my first version of a gallery in the Czech Republic 15 years ago, curating young artists into their first exhibitions. Since then, I have advocated for artists on commercial and fine art platforms between Prague, my hometown of Laguna Beach and subsequently, CES Gallery, in Downtown LA—all with the intention of fostering artistic vision and creating community.
2. What do you hope to achieve with your space and programming? What in your mind makes your space unique, special?
I am passionate about art and am dedicated to helping emerging artists through the crucial first stages of their careers, while providing more established artists with unique opportunities. Our space is special because we can navigate the art worlds on our own terms and don’t feel pressure to conform to certain industry norms and or trends. We champion great art and great people above all else.
3. What is your vision for the future of your space and the art world in general?
River's primary agenda is to function as a progressive platform to promote art, artists, and communities.
4. How do you see the art world today? Please explain.
I do not see a singular art world. I believe that a myriad of art worlds exist side by side and in certain cases overlap. It is the responsibility of the artist to determine their unique artistic agenda and define their place in their art world that best suits the agenda they desire to fulfill.
5. What do you look for when choosing artists for your program?
The gallery champions artists who exude positive values personally and professionally.
6. What are the three most important things artists should do for their career?
Define their artistic agenda. Dig Deep. What do you want out of art in your life. Be honest!
Make sure that any work roles taken during your career are creative or relate to your art world.
Be a good human.
7. What are three things artists should definitely not do?
1. Make assumptions.
2. Not understand the art world they inhabit or wish to participate in. Do the research.
3. Be a bad human. There is no room for mean, ungrateful, or pretentious people in any industry.
8. What does your day to day look like? How do you organize this space / project to keep it manageable?
At this point in time, the gallery is operated in a more casual time frame. Our gallery hours are by appointment and every Saturday from 12-5. This allows me to focus on my family and my primary work responsibilities. Outside of directing the space and selling artwork by the artist in our program, I work as a full-time art director, part-time freelance designer, and teach workshops for artists at various institutions throughout the year.
Last Words of Advice:
Know your personal and artistic agenda. I believe that once you understand what and why you desire as an individual and an artist, you have the most favorable chances of being successful and enjoying the vast rewards of what art and life have to offer.
Interview with Carl E. Smith:
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