Andres A. Verzosa is owner and director of Aucocisco Galleries in Portland, Maine, one of the leading commercial art galleries in the state. In its fourteen-year history under Verzosa’s direction, Aucocisco has gained widespread critical recognition. The gallery currently represents some of the most respected contemporary artists in Maine. The gallery’s primary focus has been on presenting mid career artists, along with emerging newer artists. All artists have a significant connection to the state of Maine or, quite simply, Maine plays a significant role in their identity as visual artists.
Verzosa grew up in Portland, attended both the University of Maine and Maine College of Art. In addition to Verzosa’s work with Aucocisco, he’s committed to community building around the arts. Verzosa is a trustee of the Maine College of Art, a board member of the Ogunquit Museum of American Art, the Tides Institute & Museum, and founder of Portland’s “First Friday Art Walk”, past president of the Portland Arts and Cultural Alliance and former board member of the Quimby Family Foundation. Last year Verzosa orchestrated a free reading of Inaugural Poet Richard Blanco at Portland’s Merrill Auditorium, co-curated “Maine Women Pioneers III” at the University of New England Art Gallery and is co-editor of “Maine Art Now”, scheduled for publication by the University of Maine Press in the Fall 2014.
You can find Part One of Andy’s interview here.
Privacy settings, losing the novelty, and mutual selfies
As with most of my interviews, what you’ll read here is a greatly condensed version of our conversation.
What do you dislike about social media?
“I think, like most people, anytime something, or someone, collects data about you and your activities, or your community, or whatever, it’s data that can be manipulated in bad ways. It really makes you think and can cause a great deal of concern. Sometimes it seems like it’s something that’s bigger than we can handle.”
“With native advertising you have to realize that if you look at a boat online, you’re going to be looking at ads for yachts everywhere for the next ten years. You just kind of have to live with that. You figure out ways to accept it and minimize it the best you can.”
“Thank goodness you can utilize the privacy settings and put filters on your Facebook feed. So, if there’s a person or organization that is posting a lot of stuff you don’t like you can silence them. Or you can block people and restrict what they can see on your page. That’s a lot of management, but you really do have some control.”
“There have been times when I’ve had friends or family members who have been very sick. Those are sad times. When I feel very sad, I really don’t want to be posting to Facebook. So, during times like those, I’ll usually post a very general statement letting people know that I’m going to be going off Facebook for a while. No big pronouncements, just simply letting people know that I won’t be posting for a while. At times like those, I really need to focus my attentions on the people who really need me. I’m usually not interested in half of the stuff that happens on Facebook, but normally I might be interested in the other half. When I’m feeling very sad about something, I’m not interested in any of it. My priorities are different in those situations.”
“It used to be that there was a novelty to everything we posted and you enjoyed broadcasting it — ‘This is what I had for breakfast. There’s a bird on my fire escape. He’s singing a song. Isn’t it beautiful?’ — now, all of that has become routine. It’s different. There are some things that you put up there and some things that you don’t. One thing I do still love — something that I really enjoy — on any given day one of my friends is having a birthday. I love that. And, it’s so easy to say ‘Happy Birthday!’ Or, link them to a song or a picture. Or, send them a private message. I like that. A lot. There are also things that are part of our collective consciousness that it’s nice to connect on. Like when Pete Seeger recently died. That was important to many people and it was very comforting to be able to connect with people around that. It was so different than what it would have been like reading about it in the paper. This was a truly interactive experience. There was a dialogue. I like that.”
“Nobody likes having their photo taken unless they’re ready for it. I’ve gotten used to that though and I have no problem with having my photo taken. I also like taking selfies with my friends but I don’t necessarily want to take a selfie of just myself. I don’t really get that. What’s that called when you take a selfie with friends? It’s not really a selfie. A mutual selfie? I don’t know? It does memorialize a moment where you’ve connected and you were together. I love that. I guess if I were traveling and standing in front of the Eiffel Tower I might take a selfie by myself. But, if I’m standing in Monument Square on Congress, forget it.”
What would it be like for you to disconnect from social media for six months?
“Social media is really like icing on the cake to me in terms of my business. It just kind of adds to the profile, and the cache, and it keeps people informed. It’s nice to let people know about an event or a happening. It’s expedient. It’s a really good thing. Apart from that, personally, I think it would be great. There’s always part of me that just wants to go away somewhere and read a book. Or, go somewhere and watch 10 movies in a row. Or, go somewhere and just be in nature. Do those things that are regenerative-type things. Although, I’d probably still be taking pictures. I’m a fool for a camera.”
If you could only use three words to describe social media, what would they be?
“Wicked. Good. Fun.”
Is there a person or brand that you think uses social media effectively?
Fave macro artblog: Contemporary Art Daily
And Hilly Town is a great place to find a lot of links to some really cool “Portland, ME” blogs.
And I also like the First Parish Radio Church of America’s Daily Devotions by Rev. Peter Panagore too…
I want to thank Andy for taking the time to talk with me about his opinions on, and experience with, social media.
You can find Andy on aboutme at: andres_verzosa
You can find Andy on Facebook at: andres.verzosa
You can find Andy on LinkedIn: andresverzosa
You can find Andy on Twitter: @aucocisco
89 Exchange Street
Portland, Maine 04101
PHOTO CREDIT: David Wade