Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Current Show

installation view - Seeking Shelter - Manhattan Arts Center, Manhattan, Kansas
installation view - Seeking Shelter - Manhattan Arts Center, Manhattan, Kansas

I installed my show at the Manhattan Arts Center last week and attended the opening on Saturday. It was tiring but fun to install everything.

This is where I spent about four or five hours, despite my fear of heights! I had help from some great volunteers, though, so it went really smoothly.

The show will be up until May 26th.

The reception was fun but not well attended (apparently there were a lot of events going on in the town at the same time). I've learned to not expect a lot at receptions. I had a show a few years ago where the gallery director (also a friend) got me so worked up about the reception - saying it was going to be packed and that I was going to sell everything - that when only my friends and family showed up (and nothing sold), I was very let down. I cried all the way home. So now I just look at the reception as a way to meet a few people and talk about my work.

Also, art centers and university galleries are not known for selling a lot of work. Their function is to educate the public about art. So I see these shows as a way to get my work out and get it seen. Perhaps someone will see my work and be interested and follow it and eventually become a collector.

So I'm going to do one more this summer in Douglasville, Georgia, and then Lawton, Oklahoma next fall. After that I will retire this show for a while. I'm not going to send any more proposals out for this particular body of work.

Now I'm going to focus on getting my work into commercial galleries.

Monday, April 09, 2007

The beginning

Today was my first day of "freedom." Friday was the last day at the day job.

I sent off my entry to R&F's Encaustic Works 07. Tonight I'm going to get my entry ready for New American Paintings (this is the year!) and possibly respond to a couple of other calls for proposals.

I started freaking out a little about money today - just minor things like worrying that I don't have enough and wondering where it's going to come from...

I tend to be more pragmatic and cautious, so saying things like, "The universe will provide," seems a little flaky to me. It sounds great until you try to explain it to a parent or an ex-spouse...

Today I also helped out with the installation of the local art group's national juried show (I unpacked the artwork again this year, so I have lots more ranting to do about how not to pack artwork - I even took pictures of some of the worst offenders!).

Tomorrow I'm off to Kansas. I'm spending the night with my brother and his family in Overland Park. I had my work sent there from the last show in Iowa, so I'm going to pick it up there and drive it to Manhattan for installation. The reception is Saturday, April 14th from 4 to 6 pm - if you're in the area, stop by and say hi!

My friend Colleen will hopefully be able to go to the reception, so that'll be fun.

Last night I watched What the Bleep Do We Know? It sounds similar to The Secret. It was about reality and quantum physics and all that. I liked it but I need to watch it again. That stuff just blows my mind...

I get back on Sunday and plan to spend a lot of time in my studio next week. I want to finish up my Waxy Buildup pieces and get started on the next thing. I want to explore the concept of palimpsest - where writing has been erased and written over.

Oh, and I've also curated a show that will be on display in May at Tarrant County College in Arlington, Texas. It's a show of artist's books called Beyond the Scrapbook. More about that later.

Well, I guess I should pack!

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Rejection Letters, Demystified...

I got a great comment on my most recent post about rejection letters. I had wondered why I was getting so many hits on people searching for "rejection letter." Were they trying to find other rejects with which to commiserate? Were they looking for wording for their own cruel rejection letters?

A gallery employee named Freshie Beth posted this comment:
"Awesome post! I work in an art gallery and I was honestly googling "artist rejection letter" to try and come up with better wording than what I usually send to artists, which I know is short and not very sweet. What can I say - I get two or three submissions a day and I have other things to do than come up with a nice, thoughtful rejection letter for each and every one. Usually the work is so awful, I'm trying to hold back and not be mean (I am blunt by nature). As a gallery director, I can translate those letters for you... When they say they're not currently seeking other artists, they're saying that they don't want to fit you in. If they liked your work and wanted to sell it, they would bring you in unless their gallery really is just a 10' x 10' space. They either don't like your work or it truly isn't a fit with their gallery. Some galleries have very narrow focuses or they just really know what their clients buys and don't want to waste your time or theirs. Our gallery has a variety of subject matter, but it is cohesive and I can tell what "fits" and what doesn't. If we reject someone, it's 95% because the work isn't good enough for our semi-high-end gallery. Out of 50 submission, I might get one that I actually think we could sell. Then, 9 out of 10 of those artists flake out and we never hear from them again. We even offered to have a show for a new artist who we spoke with a few times, then - nothing. Where did he go? The whole process is pretty ridiculous!"

There's a lot to digest there.

She confirms my original hunch that gallery directors really mean that they don't like your work when they say things like, "not a good fit," or "not looking for new artists..."

So I was thinking that it might be funny to, instead of just sending a SASE along with my materials, send a little self-addressed, stamped postcard reminiscent of those notes you sent to the kid you were crushing on in third grade:

This doesn't give them the option to say any of those things that are open for interpretation. It's either yes or no. Wouldn't you rather know why they don't like your work? Or why they don't think it's right for their gallery?

I was surprised by her statement that 9 out of 10 artists flake out. Are aritsts really that flaky? That makes me sad.

I wonder if her experiences are similar to those of other gallery owners?

Monday, April 02, 2007


I just wanted to thank everyone for their encouragement and support. So many great comments!

This is my last week of the "real" job. It's scary but exciting. Most of the time. I keep having these periods where I think, "What am I doing?" But luckily they pass quickly and I focus on my goal again.

Next week I'm going to travel to Manhattan, Kansas to install my show. I'm looking forward to it.

More written inspiration:
I just finished a little book by Deepak Chopra called Creating Affluence. It's made me want to learn more about meditation.

Along the same lines, I just started reading Train Your Mind, Change Your Brain by Sharon Begley. She talks about Buddhism and neuroscience. Really interesting.

I'm also slowly re-reading The Courage to Create by Rollo May. This is one of those books that I keep around and pick up over and over again...

Not related to art, really, but I also recently read Apartment Therapy. I don't live in an apartment, but I've been reading their blog for a while, and just happened to notice that the library had it, so I grabbed it. I hadn't really paid much attention to the actual "therapy" that they do on the blog, so the book was different than what I had anticipated. But I really liked it. I took on my living room and my bedroom - clearing out the clutter and making them much better spaces. I also started buying myself flowers - such a nice treat!

I deserve it.