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Friday, September 24, 2021

New artist collective encourages community engagement through interactive art pop-up

OOPS made its debut appearance at the 4Most Gallery June 18 and 19

Dennis Pfeiffer, 22, adjusts the position of items in the Out Of Pocket Society pop-up event at 4Most Gallery on Friday, June 18, 2021.
Dennis Pfeiffer, 22, adjusts the position of items in the Out Of Pocket Society pop-up event at 4Most Gallery on Friday, June 18, 2021.

The scene at 4Most this weekend was unorthodox — a DJ booth to the right and a classic TV to the left, one set atop a tablecloth displaying a Paris Hilton quote and the other decorated with dinosaurs and flamingo figurines.

An angry, grey skull printed over a blue and white chevron rug marked the entrance. Colorful LEDs lit the entire space. Tiny mirrors and painted skateboards adorned the walls. And a mannequin in the corner was decked out in a custom hoodie and jeans, rocking a sad cowboy emoji necklace.

A video montage of collegiate misadventures that should come with a FOMO warning played on a loop.

It was reminiscent of what the "iCarly" apartment would look like if the gang listened to Beach House, wore Vans and traded the computer for a film camera, keeping the blurry prints in the backs of their phone cases — still quirky and fun but with a left-of-center flair, inviting but undeniably alternative.

The art pop-up was curated by the Out Of Pocket Society, also known as OOPS, a new Gainesville-based artist collective. OOPS hosted its inaugural event at the 4Most Gallery, located at 534 SW 4th Ave, June 18 and 19. The two-day event brought an interactive exhibit that encouraged participants to touch, take photos and engage with the pieces on display.

OOPS was founded by Dennis Pfeiffer, a 22-year-old former Santa Fe business student, and Kirstin Musselwhite, a 21-year-old UF graphic design alumna, in the summer of 2020. “Out of pocket” began as a phrase the two used amid antics when they were coworkers at Vans. 

The concept took shape during last summer’s pandemic stagnation with the goal of melding a number of artistic mediums within the Gainesville community.

“We want to use it as this platform for local creatives and just create this community thing,” Musselwhite said.

OOPS aims to foster engagement in the community, Musselwhite said. The future will ideally include an explosion of content — concerts, pop-up shows and a YouTube series, among other ideas — but she said the core of the collective is the spirit of camaraderie and collaboration.

Prior to the OOPS inception, the duo had experience with event planning. Musselwhite said while previous endeavors were similar, the collective represents their foray into entirely new territory. 

OOPS was created when the world was still on pause, but Pfeiffer said he saw Gainesville’s art community flourish during the time. He said the lull in activity led to many new creatives finding their footing, furthering a need for a platform to promote their art.

“Quarantine definitely inspired and brought a really cool artistic side out of people,” Pfeiffer said.

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Armed with an idea, the duo set up shop in Pfeiffer’s garage. From there, they recruited more members, conceptualized more content and planned their official introduction to the Gainesville community.

The event found a home at the 4Most Gallery. Musselwhite, a former intern with the gallery, worked with 4Most’s curator and artist-in-residence Morgan Yacoe to bring OOPS to life.

With the help of interns Paige Arneson, Francis Cadavid, Tanya Pattinson and Abby Sommer, Yacoe said transforming the gallery is a constant occurrence, but she said this makeover was more extreme than most.

“They’re literally bringing their studio into the gallery space, and there’s also going to be this participatory, interactive component to it that’s kind of a surprise,” Yacoe said. 

The decision to have the 4Most host OOPS’s inaugural event was almost immediate, Yacoe said. Musselwhite and Pfeiffer’s new perspective, combined with the opportunity for new artists to find a platform, made OOPS an ideal partner for the gallery, Yacoe said. 

“Kirstin and Dennis have such fresh ideas, and they’re so engaged with their peers and the Gainesville community,” she said. 

Regardless of their means of artistic expression, Pfeiffer said OOPS welcomes creatives of all kinds. Pfeiffer, a member of local punk band The Real You, is a musician, and Musselwhite specializes in visual arts. The collective has enlisted a DJ and videographer to join their ranks. 

It’s a group that exists beyond definition, but Pfeiffer said that’s what makes OOPS, and Gainesville as a whole, so special. 

“It’s just one big melting pot,” he said. “It’s this cool rotation of people who go in and out.” 

Contact Heather at hbushman@alligator.org. Follow her on Twitter @hgrizzl.

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