Sunday, August 14, 2011

Give a show

Responses from people walking into a pop-up can really vary. The Independent wasn’t there yesterday and has that look of transience. Sometimes they stumble in and ask me: “Is this a gallery?” It is indeed, I say. And then they walk right out. I am also a little surprised at how many come in and within 60 seconds tell me they are an artist in that rather hopeful, dodgy way which sounds like the initiation of something, rather than just a simple statement.

But as the conversation winds here and there - and yes, at least I am there for the conversation - I have much more patent and patient answers than I did a few years ago at Chambers. First off, the pop-up nature of the venture rather relieves us all of great and industrious futures, at least one we can plan together.

Otherwise, the pop-up is a fabulous intro into what any artist, small or large, busy or not, can do. Want to get a show? Give a show. And then I tell them that while I am sitting here at one artist’s show, I am actually showing my own work too this month, right down the street at Augen Gallery.

The “Give a show” almost always disarms. These are very needy times, many Portland artists need jobs as well as shows. Some are so used to being in a state of need, completely unempowered, that this idea that they have the means and the mojo to do something major for someone else is bewildering. That’s the expression I see on their faces more than anything – bewilderment. It’s not exactly what they were expecting to hear.

It’s been almost ten years since I opened a gallery called Lovelake in my own studio. The motivations behind that act were much more complex than anything I care to share right now, but let’s just say I wasn’t showing anywhere else! In 2011 there’s even more opportunity to change the landscape because it’s more decimated with empty shells. And if you don’t want an empty shell, you can look at artists like Chris Ashley with Some Walls or Robert Yoder with Season – doing something really amazing with the real estate they already have.


Anonymous said...

The hustle of showing, the entrepreneurial/business side of being a artist is huge. In a sense the actual artwork can become secondary. It is great that this topic is weaved throughout your radio program. I had a art history professor who told me on the side "if you want to be a successful artist, get a MBA and then learn to paint". 15 years later it really resonates.., (out of all the advice that people love to give artists). very similar to your "give a show". Anyway.. great topic.

Eva said...

Thanks for reading and commenting. A blog with tons of information on how to have an art career - all the business side of it - can be found at Joanne Mattera's "marketing Mondays."

One of the reasons I suggest showing other artists is to get an idea what gallerists are about. I see a lot of artists hating the gallery system without seeing the other side of it.

Also, I think it helps your own vision, your own practice to get outside of the studio and take some custody and care over the work of others. You have to stretch your art brain when you talk, write and present work not your own.

Anonymous said...

Thank You for the blog link, good stuff. I like it and bookmarked it for regular reading. I can only speculate, but geez, the monthly overhead on running a gallery before the gallerist can even draft a paycheck is enough to put aside hating the system.