Living Room Gallery provides a new platform for local artists


Art by Roni Jean

The Living Room Gallery may have started from a school project, but with help from colleagues, Holland has started a full-fledged brand that will only grow from here.

Eric Holland is enrolled at Chico State as a Music Industry and Recording Arts major, and what started as one of his school assignments has evolved into a project on Instagram called Living Room Gallery. It’s a platform intended for boosting local artists and musicians’ work. He is doing this through featuring episodic performances akin to NPR’s “Tiny Desk” series.

Holland took some time to elaborate on what his intentions are with the Living Room Gallery, as well as how it got its start.

Being a new page on Instagram, can you clarify what exactly the Living Room Gallery is?

I am trying to push it toward being an art page that has big (music) episodes every once in a while that pull people in. I want it to be an online art gallery where any artists that need a platform can post and sell their stuff, as well as doing the same for musicians and bands. Art is kind of the day-to-day, and then the bands and the performances are the big productions where people can be like “Whoa, check this out.”

What inspired you to start this project?

I don’t know if you’ve heard of Porchside (music venue), but they used to put on shows before the shutdown. I am really good friends with them, and they’re the first episode. They’ve always had the house shows, and they were always these big community things. Everybody was always so pumped, and they were so excited to have a following, and I’ve always wanted something like that, but have never seen the opportunity. I started this semester with the class SOTA Productions, and in that class a couple of people and I have to manage two artists. One of those artists is Jayna Feldman, and both of my classmates had all these connections to the (Chico) music scene to help her out. And I was there like “I have no idea how I’m going to help push her career.” So I started to think about what people need right now. People don’t really have an outlet to perform and get their stuff out there because of COVID-19, so I wanted to create that outlet. So I came up with the “Tiny Desk” inspired project, but still wanted something to make it my own. I have a couple of friends who are big on art in Chico, and so they’re kind of like my left and right hand at this point, because they know all these artists that they can pull in. So that helped me branch out into the art community. So that is what really helped this project be set apart from everything else.

Porchside is a local spot that many Chico locals who are familiar with the music scene are bound to recognize, making it a fitting location for the first episode.
Porchside is a local spot that many Chico locals who are familiar with the music scene are bound to recognize, making it a fitting location for the first episode.

How did you get your first episode set up?

I don’t know if you’ve heard of the NorCal Musicians Collective, but they’re big on helping musicians get stuff done, and if it wasn’t for them, I don’t think this could’ve happened at all. They sponsored our first episode, they paid our production team. So they kind of get a gold star.

I’ve seen on your feed that it’s all been posts of local artists work, as well as a video of a band playing. What is the goal with the Living Room Gallery?

Right now, it’s all local. But I’m anticipating reaching a wider audience. I have a couple friends in Santa Barbara who are artists that I’m probably going to contact at some point and be like “Yo … can we feature your art?” It’s a community project, but the parameters for what I’m defining as “community” are a lot larger than just Chico.

So has it been more of you reaching out to people, or are they reaching out to you?

For the most part, we’ve been reaching out to people. I’ve had a couple bands hit us up, though. We haven’t really been hit up by (visual) artists so much, we’ve been hit up more by bands. I think the image we give off is more of a performance venue vibe than an actual art gallery.

Is there any theme that you are looking for in the artists that you bring on or feature?

So I’m thinking that for the performances, I’m trying to theme the art toward the music that’s being played. So if it’s a sadder group, then we’ll have more somber paintings behind them. But ultimately, it’s a project to help people get their names out there and for them to post content so other people can see it. It’s kind of a communal platform. (laughs) I guess that could be the theme, “community.”

Holland has created a vessel for artists who have never had the opportunity to get their name out to the world. It can be difficult enough garnering an audience as a local musician or artist, let alone in the middle of a pandemic. But hopefully with the Living Room Gallery, it will be just a bit easier. They can be contacted on Instagram @the_livingroom_gallery.

Thomas Stremfel can be reached at [email protected] or @tomstremfel on Twitter.