When it comes to home decorating on a budget, art options get generic pretty fast. Between mass-produced images of Marilyn Monroe or New York City's taxicabs sold at big box retail stores, the works covering the walls of people's homes aren't chosen because they're particularly fresh or unique but because they are affordable and accessible.
In the hopes of providing a more interesting alternative, recent University of Michigan graduates and 24-year-old L.A. natives Chelsea Neman and Jordan Klein co-founded the Tappan Collective, an online gallery selling original work by emerging artists. For their L.A.-based gallery, Neman and Klein recruited recent art school graduates from around the country. Prices range from $80 to $1,000.
"Everyone seemed like they needed art at a mid-level price that was still exciting and made them feel like they were discovering or supporting new artists," says Klein, a former art history major. "We felt like there was something missing in the art world.
"The collective is a perfect platform and space to bring our artist friends who just graduated from art school and young collectors together."
The Tappan Collective's online market comes to life Saturday with a pop-up gallery at the Jeffries Building downtown, showcasing the work of 19 of its 21 artists, including Gia Coppola; Clara Balzary, daughter of the Red Hot Chili Peppers' Flea; and Lola Rose Thompson, a contestant from Bravo's "Next Great Artist" reality series.
The 45 works of art include photography, drawings, watercolors and prints, with several artists creating pieces addressing the question: "How do our experiences online and through our digital devices compare to our experiences in reality" — a relevant concern for artists featured in an online art space.
"We felt like art was the last really important market to go online," says Neman, who graduated with a fine arts degree. "There are so many more opportunities online and there is such a greater range of people you can reach. We're not trying to compete with the Gagosians of the world. Being a collective and having a roster that's ever-evolving sets us apart."
"Having it online provides such a greater support to these young artists, who if they had a small gallery show in, say, Brooklyn, 50 of their friends would come," Klein adds. "Whereas, if it is online in a really amazing curated space, there is the potential for thousands of people to see their work from all over the world."
Saturday's pop-up gallery will also feature the music of DJs Harley Viera-Newton, Grant Shapiro and Inturn, as well as food trucks and a tech table where guests can experience the online gallery hands-on.
Although Klein says there are certain limitations to selling artwork online (selling large-scale sculptures or paintings does not make sense when the goal is to stay at an affordable price point), the pop-up exhibitions are an opportunity for the collective's artists to create larger-scaled or more site-specific pieces.
"Having an online gallery definitely makes it more immediate, but it also allows room for pop-up galleries," says featured photographer Coppola, a granddaughter of film director Francis Ford Coppola. "Seeing the artwork in different settings and playing around with different spaces is a unique thing."
Neman and Klein would eventually love to have a permanent space, but for now they are enjoying the freedom of not being grounded in one space, which opens up opportunities for future galleries across the country. Neman says this flexibility allows the Tappan Collective to "stay young, stay fresh and not fall into old habits." The collective already has another pop-up exhibit planned for the fall in New York.
"For us, it's really important to send a message that art is inviting, that art can be for everybody and that art doesn't have to be the typical, intimidating experience of walking into a gallery," Neman says.
"We want to introduce people to art and make them feel comfortable buying art," Klein adds. "That's our goal with the website, to have more people living with art — it's surprising how many people have bare walls."
The Tappan Collective Pop-Up Gallery
When: 7 p.m.-11 p.m. Sat.
Where: The Jeffries Building, 117 Winston St., L.A.
Tickets: Free; RSVP Events@TheTappanCollective.com