Episode #103 Carman Gaines, Associate Director of Local Color

When asked to describe the San José art scene, Carman Gaines uses words like ‘passionate, diverse, obsessive, and community oriented.’ One could argue that those words also best describe Carman’s life view and journey to the present. Born and raised in San José, Carman tries to squeeze the most out of life for herself and in honor of her ancestors. Carman has an intentional approach to spending her time and the opportunities she pursues but balances those things by focusing only on what she can control.

Carman studied art history and photography in college, learning its potential to impact lives and document history. However, she accepted early on that photography was not how she wanted to survive in a capitalist world, opting to use it as a form of catharsis and personal growth. That realization did not stop her from popping into different art spaces, dropping off resumes, taking unpaid internships, and commuting to a gallery job in San Francisco for a few years before tenaciously pursuing a position at Local Color that would bring her career in arts administration closer to home. 

In the years since Carman began working for Local Color, she has taken on the role of associate director. Although her work often requires trips to what she calls ‘Grantland,’ a destination of administrative paperwork and potential funding, she relishes the opportunity to provide artists and organizations a platform to impact the community through art.

While Carman supports the art community through her career, she is also working towards a future that involves a farm, airstream, dismantling capitalism, and mutual aid. In her new podcast, ‘Plan and Story,’ Carman sits down with folks in the community to discuss their visions for the future and the sometimes unforeseen road that will take them there.

In our conversation, we discuss Carman’s journey to working for Local Color, her experiences as an artist and arts administrator, and her inspiration and approach to life.

Join Carman this Friday, October 27th, for Local Color’s annual 31 Skulls fundraiser. This fundraiser supports local artists and helps fund this woman-powered organization, fostering connections between artists, people, and places.