In the face of uncertainty, Latela Curatorial is serving artists the same way they always have: by listening to the needs of the community.

Through the dark climate of fear and uncertainty hovering over the present cultural landscape, an ethos of care and community that even the art world isn’t immune to has been cutting through the fog.

Over the past few years, spaces providing business and inter-personal development learning opportunities have been making names for themselves by placing an emphasis on personal nourishment over – or as means to – personal profit.

But as gathering spaces remain on lockdown during COVID-19, how can communities like these survive in a strictly digital space? 

Works on paper by Christine Olmstead at Latela Curatorial
Works on paper by Christine Olmstead in Latela Curatorial’s showroom. Image via Instagram @latelacuratorial

Latela Curatorial is doing just that for the local Washington, DC community – and now, beyond. The space, which provides opportunities for female artists and creatives to not only learn skills and tools to help them develop business acumen, also provides opportunities for creatives to engage in activities that serve to connect them with their spiritual beings as well.

Multi-hyphenate artist, curator, art historian and trained yogi Marta Staudinger founded Latela Curatorial 2015, soon after which it was quickly voted as “best commercial art gallery in Washington, DC”. As a female-founded and female-staffed business, the business views Art and Spirit as central motifs to its platform supporting local art, women in the arts, curatorial projects and community development.

Putting the needs of the community first.

Since it’s opening, the programming at Latela has changed incrementally by responding to the needs of its growing community. This includes the addition of courses designed specifically for artists who are following different paths – for instance, developing their business skills or aiming to get deeper in touch with their spiritual side.

Staudinger comments “This can’t be too far off if an art consultancy makes space for artists to dive into that deeper, that also – when I opened the gallery, it was really about let’s do a meditation twice a month on the moon because it’s such a potent time.”

That’s right – Latela includes New Moon and Full Moon meditation and yoga gatherings as part of their community offerings. “It’s a good external clock check-in. It’s a space for artists to come in and do that work if they were feeling some kind of block.”

What better to tap into that unbridled, creative she-wolf spirit than through bi-monthly moon circles when divine feminine energy is at its peak? As any lunar-attuned colleague will tell you, it’s a good time to dig deep (don’t believe me? Try it for yourself on the next New Moon).

The fluid approach to creativity and moon cycles isn’t limited to just artists, though. “About the community alignment and focus… that’s a parallel to our art consulting work that we were doing in another space,” Staudinger notes, ruminating on Latela’s approach to their art consulting services.

“When you’re sourcing art, you’re still thinking about that person’s brand from a holistic view. What’s the energy and vibe they want, versus just matching colors. Learning about their journey and the story they want to tell and how to tell it. It comes from an artist needing to be aligned or consulting services being aligned to help that message come out.”

“Our artist course includes daily meditations and tricks to get past creative blocks but also information on the professional business collected from our two masters degrees that isn’t out there on budgets, artist statement, aligning, etc. Having the artist figure out who they are and what their goals are has been a big shift in the past year.”

Maintaining community in the digital space. 

One thing that has been noticeably missing from many galleries’ offerings lately is the “in-person” part. Part of what makes the types of community offerings so appealing is the in-person interaction and energy creatives are able to draw from during the process.

With social-distancing as a new rule, and with large gatherings banned for the foreseeable future, how can a business like Latela adapt?

“We have always been very adaptive,” Staudinger states, “so we were excited to hit the ground with a shift that we think will be our new reality for quite a few months.”

Luckily, many of Latela’s projects remain unaffected, like a few procurement endeavors. The space is using their time to increase their free offerings portfolio and produce content to engage the community online more, and yes, they’re giving discounts on offerings too.

The monthly moon circles are among the free offerings, with links sent out through Latela’s Spirit newsletter (they will also host the gatherings live on IGTV). Latela’s Instagram page will be rife with contests to boost engagement and soon, their online presence will expand to include an online shop. Studio visits with artists hosted on video chat are also on the docket. Also unaffected are the business’s online classes for artists, for which they are looking into potentially offering scholarships. Spaces like Latela, which have savvy programming to begin with, are already set up for success.

If you thought this pandemic would be bad for artists, this might just have you reconsidering your stance. Artists, advisors, curators, and other art professionals are still finding ways to create and share art, and as all projects go, sometimes a roadblock is all you need to spark a great idea. In the spirit of adaptation, Latela is doing exactly that: facing uncertainty with creativity and intuition so that, through everything, the community survives.