Friday, January 30, 2009

Some Blogs of Interest

I changed my sidebar to reflect only those blogs that I am an author on, simply because there are way too many good art blogs out there (so I can't help but forget a bunch of stuff), and because I'm trying to clean up this interface and my list of current exhibitions has taken over.

Here are a few blogs of note, though. These are only the ones that people have made me aware of; if you would like to see your own art blog posted to the list, please be sure to tell me about it in a comment.

Art Reviews:
Art Saint Louis / Art Dialogue
Comments and reviews of visual art in saint louis - Saint Louis Art

Cate Anevski
Art & Ideas - Dail Chambers
Artistic Mission - Dan Jaboor
Popp Art - Erica Popp
Tony Renner, Artist
Colin Michael Shaw
The Common Denominator - Mary Beth Shaw
Wish Jar, Explorations of the Familiar - Keri Smith
Beyond the Art Fair - Jeane Vogel

Art Organizations:
The Chicago Women's Caucus for Art Blogs
CWCA Calls for Entry
WCA-STL - St. Louis Chapter of the Women's Caucus for Art

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Getting a Head

I enjoy collecting artworks by other artists, and had wanted to buy one of the lovely styrofoam heads created for Chesterfield Arts' Art Feast table decorations. After being unable to go, I was dismayed that Mary Beth Shaw's had all been snatched up (they were too fun). I am very excited to have picked up a head by Jennifer Klemp instead (I hadn't seen hers before). I especially like the creepiness factor of it, with the heart so perfectly rendered.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Snow Day

I don't have much to say today. After three hours of shoveling snow this morning, I was sore, both in body and in mood. (Thank you Robin for understanding my overwhelmedness - I did drop everything and take some time out.)

To make a long story short, I eventually left the house and ran some errands, since after I'd spent so long clearing the driveway I wanted to take advantage of it. In the process I noticed that I really stocked the pantry. I guess all that shoveling went to my head...

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

On Shortcutting Your Way Into the Art World

Jeane Vogel had some interesting things to say after her recent experience at the mall. She offered the following advice to those seeking success, and I agree with much of it.

  • There is no quick way to life as an artist. You have to work at it. All the time.
  • Get the education you can afford. Learn from everyone. Learn from everything.
  • Teach what you know.
  • Be willing to take chances.
  • Show only your BEST work.
  • Enter your best work in juried exhibits. Find out if you're really as good as you think you are.
  • Don't be afraid of competition. There's always somebody who's better than you. Learn from them.
  • Achieve the excellence you admire.
  • You might not be able to have everything right now. There are decisions to make: cable or art supplies?
  • Don't copy somebody's else's work or style. Find your own vision. Find your own voice.
  • Come to grips with the fact that you might have to support yourself with other work while your art evolves.
  • Don't assume the world owes you any recognition. There are LOTS of talented people out there.
  • Be responsible for your own success.
  • Be grateful to people who help you.
  • Be generous to people who need your help.
  • It's ok to complain and gripe about how hard this is. My friends hear it from me all the time. But stop it there-- with friends. That's what they're for! To the rest of the world, show your confidence, and your willingness to work hard and take risks.
  • Failure looks like failure. Success looks like success.
There may seem to be a lot of people looking for shortcuts, but there are a lot of reasons for this beyond laziness. Some people just don't know any better. Some went to college and got a degree (or even multiple degrees) in art, music, theater, writing, etc. and still don't know how to pursue it as a career. And others are seeking whatever advice they can get, but they don't know how or what to ask. They don't know where to start, let alone where to go from there. It's not that they're necessarily looking for a shortcut; they're really just trying to find the road. Thus, I think it's good that Jeane posted this advice to those seeking success in the arts, because so many don't even know where to start. I think that we should all strive to offer advice and support to one another in whatever facets we can, because it strengthens the community as a whole when we help each other rather than solely fostering competition at one another's expense.

Improv Everywhere

I have talked some about how I am interested in interstitial art before. I especially appreciate things that encourage people to look at things in new and different ways. I recently found out about the Improv Everywhere at Best Buy experience and now I'm hooked. They have done some really funny things in other places, including multiple events involving subways such as the human mirror, and others in known businesses such as mobile desktop. Or better yet, the deja vu experience at Starbuck's previously.

Unfortunately, many of these lighthearted activities can be easily misconstrued because, for all that a group like Improv Everywhere may engage in an activity in jest or in good humor, a more sinister plan could be enacted through similar means and I can understand managers and security for freaking out. However, I love that these activities encourage people to be more aware of and to question the world around them. It's always good to shake things up a bit.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Extra Dimensional Information?

Am I the only one who finds it odd or redundant when dimensions are posted on the nomenclature next to the piece? It has always seemed strange to me when the artwork is right there and I am looking at it - I just don't feel that I need to be told how big it is.

I definitely understand the need for dimensions to be included with images of the artwork where one cannot see the actual piece in person, such when an image of a work is published in a book or when jurying and/or curating from slides or digital images. But I am talking about when the work itself is physically present in the space.

Different artworks look different in different spaces. Lighting, ceiling height, ambience... all have an immense effect. Sometimes it can be difficult to appreciate the scale of an artwork even when it is looking me right in the face. But even then, I don't know that I have a firm enough comprehension of distances that knowing the precise measurements would heighten my appreciation and understanding.

I suppose that maybe a potential buyer could be looking at a piece with a certain space in mind in which to display it, and that said potential buyer may need to know whether or not it will fit (and cannot just eyeball it). But if that's the case, then so many artworks' dimensions are not standardized or well-defined (print-size vs. frame-size vs. approximations vs. mis-measurements...) that the piece may still not work in the space available.

I also suppose that maybe printing the dimensions on the nomenclature could make it easier for those hanging the work to orient and label it appropriately when they are unfamiliar with it. But that seems a pretty unreliable means of figuring out which tag goes with which artwork and which way is up.

I just see it as redundant, for all that it isn't harming anything. And I'll openly admit to printing the dimensions on my own nomenclature; it can even come in useful when I am pricing artworks according to their sizes. (I commonly do so with my plein air paintings, and it can be difficult to tell a 4" x 6" from a 5" x 7" when they are not right next to one another.) But I still don't see it as necessary in every circumstance and prefer to leave it off for the most part.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Intolerance & Patience

I think different people have different tolerances for different things. We find ourselves pushed to our limits easily by some things and not by others. As a result, we may seem impatient or be impatient in some ways and yet seem excessively patient and tolerant in others. This is especially true when we look at one another's habits because they may not mesh so closely with our own.

I am one of those kinds of people that needs to be busy. I don't deal well with idle time. Even when I am relaxing, I prefer to be doing something; I don't just sit around well. Yet, I don't mind waiting on things so long as I am occupied in an activity. For instance, I don't mind slow drivers or stopping for a red light when I am in the car. I become much more frustrated by people cutting me off and driving erratically or aggressively.

As a result of my desire to be occupied, I am very impatient when I am waiting on others for answers or guidance. I want to know right away, or as soon as time will permit. I especially don't want to wait for an answer or response. This isn't so much an issue when I am waiting to hear back from a show, since those sorts of things tend to be scheduled out, but I am typically one of the first to call the gallery when the deadline has long since passed (typically, about two weeks after I was supposed to hear back).

I don't like waiting on people at all. I also don't tend to deal well with interruptions. I understand that it is all too easy to be delayed. It is nice to let others know when you are running late, but sometimes this just isn't feasible. I myself have been known to be late to things on occasion, but I try not to make a habit of it, preferring to run early if anything. Whether or not the delay or interruption was intended as such, I often feel put upon or disrespected, as if my time or what I am doing is of little or no value to whomever is testing me. This becomes more and more irksome the more that it occurs and the more that a person is perpetually late or habitually bothersome.

There is a lot of truth to the Upside of Irritation I posted a few days back. When we learn to better tolerate one another, we can better appreciate our differences and come to an understanding of one another. Sometimes it is good to be pushed to our limits and tested so to strengthen our abilities to deal with frustrations and to put things in perspective. It can be a hard, long, bumpy road to tread, though.


I know I am not alone in this, but I have a hard time making time for friends and family amidst my art career. It isn't that I don't want to spend time with those I love and cherish, but there are often scheduling conflicts associated with this. Many non-artists work 9 - 5 weekdays and are only available on weekends and evenings. But most art events occur on Fridays and Saturdays or weekday evenings, partly because so many artists also work 9 - 5 jobs to pay the bills and that is when they are free to do events. So it can be difficult to be involved in a lot of shows and events and still make time for others.

As a result, some artists don't pursue as many opportunities or expose themselves to as many things as they otherwise may want to, simply due to the fact that they have families to take care of. Others drag their loved ones along to art events, totally submerging them in the art culture whether or not they are genuinely interested in it. This can be good because it can increase others' exposure to art, but it can also be a strain on a relationship when the artist's family/friends really have no interest in those sorts of events at all and feel that they are only able to spend time with their loved one when doing activities they would prefer not do.

Lately, I have been trying to make more time for family and friends. It can be especially challenging when traveling almost every weekend for shows and events. (That can be straining in and of itself over time, anyway.) So if you don't see me around as much, you know why.

Friday, January 23, 2009

The Upside of Irritation

A friend of mine forwarded this to me recently and I found it interesting. Especially in the context of how comfortably many of us live and yet how aggressive and hostile we can be towards one another for such small transgressions. Apparently this had appeared on DailyOM.

The Upside of Irritation
Things That Annoy Us

There are many stories of spiritual masters embracing the presence of an annoying student in their community. There is even one story that documents a teacher paying an irritating person to live among his students. From an everyday perspective, this is difficult to comprehend. We generally work hard to avoid people and things that we find annoying so they don’t bother us.

From a deeper spiritual perspective, however, irritation can be an important teacher and indicator that we are making progress on our path. Being able to remain centered and awake even when we feel uncomfortable is much more impressive than doing so in an environment where everything is to our liking. No matter how good we are at controlling our circumstances, there will always be factors and people that we cannot control. How we respond to these experiences to a great degree determines the quality of our lives. The goal of spiritual development is not to learn to control our environment—which is more of an ego-driven desire. And while having some measure of control over our external reality is important, it is when we are confronted with a person or situation that irritates us and we can choose not to react that we know have made progress spiritually. It is when we have mastered our internal reality that we will have become the masters of our lives.

The more we try to eliminate annoyances, instead of learning to handle them gracefully, the further we get from developing the qualities that come with spiritual growth, such as patience, tolerance, and acceptance. It is often in the presence of people and experiences we find annoying that we have an opportunity to develop these qualities. Fortunately for most of us, our lives offer an abundance of opportunities to practice and cultivate these traits.

Courtesy... Calls

It is all too easy to be self-absorbed when you are struggling to accomplish everything you need to do. Many artists also work other jobs and take care of their families, on top of managing their art careers, both in manufacturing and marketing their work. As a result, sometimes it can be hard to remember that the other artists with whom you are working are in similar situations because you are so wrapped up in the intricacies of your own.

Do your best to be on time, since everyone's time is valuable. If you are going to be late, inform those whom you are working with that you are running behind if at all possible so that they know not to worry and are aware of the situation. If you cannot make it to a meeting or event, politely decline. Don't neglect to RSVP, and don't neglect to RSVP again if your situation changes and you cannot attend for all that you'd originally planned to do so.

I had been planning to attend the Chesterfield Arts Art Feast event, but unfortunately had to cancel at the last minute because of a personal matter that pulled me away. Rather than just not showing, I let Chesterfield Arts know as soon as my schedule changed so that they could sell my ticket and bring in some more money for their cause. Had I not said anything to them, the ticket would have just been a loss and they would have had no idea why I never showed.

It is also good to be aware of the circumstances surrounding what you're doing. If you are entering an artwork in a show and it is large & bulky or utilizes non-traditional means of presentation, talk to the gallery personnel beforehand and discuss your needs so that they can accommodate you. Don't spring it on them at the last minute. This is a huge benefit to you as an artist as well, because if you are courteous and inform them ahead of time of your situation, the gallery will be more willing to work with you rather than telling you that you cannot submit your work at all.

Don't expect that rules will be broken or bent to suit you. But when you cannot abide by them, many people are willing to work with those who ask and who communicate their needs up front before committing to anything. If you need to drop off or pick up your work early or late, talk to the gallery representatives or curator about it. Perhaps you can work something out. Do not just show up with your work in tow at a time that you aren't supposed to drop off, and likewise don't just show up planning to remove your work from an exhibition early.

Above all else, abide by the Golden Rule and treat others as you wish to be treated yourself.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Going commercial...

I have worked with few commercial galleries as opposed to non-profits, since most of my work is highly conceptual and is meant to get people thinking more than buying so it's not the easiest to market. It is a totally different experience, and I must say there are some definite benefits. One of the key differences is that the commercial gallery really is geared towards selling art (appealing to their client base by offering wares that people want to own) whereas the non-profit really is geared towards showing art (trying to highlight a diverse selection of media, styles, ideas and so on that otherwise may or may not be seen in commercial venues because they may be difficult or impossible to market). Sure, an artist might sell a piece here and there at the non-profit; some even do quite well. But it's not the driving force behind the establishment.

As a result, the commercial enterprise really works with the artists represented to maximize their sales potential. (At least, those commercial galleries that survive in the long term to establish themselves will strive do so anyway, if for no other reason than out of necessity.) Therefore, artists are offered numerous opportunities to show their work, often having their own web pages on the gallery page on which to display and/or sell their work. Those artists are also likely to be able to work with the gallery when handling their own sales if they want, at art fairs and markets for example.

I think the thing that strikes me the most is how professional, courteous and thorough the commercial establishments can be. I realize that this doesn't always hold true and varies a lot from institution to institution. Some commercial galleries are very poorly managed, but those establishments can have a much harder time surviving in the long term. And a lot of the more disorganized non-profits tend to be scatterbrained mainly due to the fact that they must rely on volunteers to get things done, whereas the commercial galleries do not. (Those non-profits with paid positions tend to do better in this regard, I think mostly because those involved are not torn between other jobs, their own art, and their families in addition to the cause for which they are volunteering, and because they feel more obligated to do their jobs well and not to procrastinate on those things that need to be accomplished.)

Essentially, I am glad to have the opportunity to work in both veins. Both fill different niches, and although I love doing conceptual art and trying to get people thinking about things, I must admit that it's nice to earn some money off of what I'm doing. We all have to eat, after all.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Press & Publicity

I am not very good at press and publicity. I tend to be too verbose for PR purposes due to my overly wordy ramblings. I also tend not to be formal enough. And I'm not the best at getting the word out, in part due to constantly moving from one thing to the next without a break and in part because I don't know who to contact. So if you have any pointers on this subject, please let me know.

That said, there are a few pointers I can offer. Learn how to write about yourself in the third person. Too many artists are not adept at this and don't tend to think of themselves in this way. It is often regarded as pompous and arrogant, or just plain weird, to refer to oneself in the third person. Thus a lot of people never really get used to it. But it is necessary for publicity in order to look more professional.

Also, when re-referencing yourself in the third person, use your last name as opposed to your first. It is more formal and thus more professional. Remember, part of the point of press is to reach out to people who don't know you - you are not on a first name basis with them. That said, I have been known to intentionally use my first name when I want to be less austere and to seem approachable, but that has been for very very specific circumstances. And it was probably incorrect even though it was intentional so stick to your last name.

Try to be concise and to the point. (This is where I tend to fall on my face.) Get all of the necessary information out there, but don't over-explain. Try to leave at least some mystery so that people will want to find out for themselves. I have not yet discerned where that happy medium is between offering too much information and not enough. Obviously, any information regarding the show (reception times, gallery hours, location...) is absolutely necessary. And you'll want to include some information about yourself beyond that (some of your background, what media do you work in, a little blurb about the work you are showing...) but not too much. If the show is a benefit or is meant to raise awareness, or if there was an award or sponsorship involved, be sure to include that too.

Also, as I've said before, don't be afraid to promote yourself. I don't always hype up everything I'm doing as much as I should. In my case, this results from the fact that I do so much and don't want to inundate. But by not playing up the things I am involved in, I can inadvertently send the message that those events aren't important or exciting to me (and in doing so, I can encourage others to feel similarly towards them). So don't be afraid to toot your own horn, especially when you're the only one doing so because, if you don't do so at those times, then no one will know to come.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

What now?

I created the plein air painting pictured to the left at the Augusta plein air event in 2008 for a label competition. It was not chosen for all that a lot of people responded strongly to it and thought it would make a great label. This painting is probably my best thus far, and I have a wonderful image of it.

Now, the piece itself is actually quite generic and could represent any place in scenic Missouri wine country or a fantastical landscape from my imagination. The winery owns no rights to it since it was not selected for the label competition. It is my work.

So I since submitted the painting to the Les Bourgeois label competition without really thinking about it. I never imagined that it would be chosen. I have entered this competition before and have not been picked. However, this time is different, as my work was selected and this particular piece was chosen to be featured on one of the Collectors' Series labels.

I am most honored, but this is a sort of unusual dilemma in and of itself. Now I don't know what to do. Les Bourgeois is fully aware of the origins of the piece and was so even when it was submitted, but they selected it anyway. I have since contacted a representative from the Augusta plein air event to see if it will be a problem. I would like to resolve this now if it is an issue.

Artists, please give me any suggestions or input you have regarding this. Am I evil for trying to promote myself through something I created for another event? Is this what would be defined as selling out? Is it so wrong to try to get your work out there where it will be seen as opposed to letting it sit in storage where no one can appreciate it? What do you think?

Monday, January 19, 2009


I had hoped to blog some more this weekend, but I've been crazily editing down my footage from the Art Saint Louis show for display through the rest of the exhibition. Feel free to check it out here.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Square Foot Show

The Square Foot show reception was much better attended than I'd expected between both the frigid weather and the fact that the show has already been up for a month (with a preview at Off the Wall at City Hall no less). ArtDimensions always draws a good crowd though.

In regards to the show itself, I was impressed with both the level of work exhibited and the display of the show. It's always difficult to judge how well an inclusive show will go both from a curatorial standpoint and in regards to the quality of work submitted, and I think that ArtDimensions did a great job with it. It helps a lot that the canvases were standardized so that everything flowed smoothly and was cohesive.

I was especially pleasantly surprised to find that the show was not hung salon style, as many inclusive shows are. (Sure some select pieces were hung salon style, but many of those were specifically meant to be.) The show could have been hung salon style and a solo show exhibited in the main solo gallery, but instead the Square Foot show was given enough space that this was not necessary.

The Square Foot Show
3rd floor gallery
1214 Washington Ave.
St. Louis, MO
Dec. 12, 2008 - Jan. 31, 2009

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Waiting Until the Last Minute

Some people operate best when they are under a lot of pressure. I am not one of those people. I don't prefer to do things at the last minute. So I find it to be a trial when I am forced to wait until the last minute to do something due to another party's procrastination.

When directing or curating a show, you can expect some people to wait down to the wire to get their work to you or to turn in their submission packet. There are always stragglers - that is the nature of the enterprise. So many artists have so many things on their plate that they are doing well just to keep up with their to-do lists. But a lot of organizations cater to this whether or not they intend to do so, by extending deadlines and making exceptions for people. If such behaviors are catered to time and time again, then no one has a firm reason to be punctual; it encourages a lack of professionalism and thus also bespeaks one on behalf of the organizational party who is bending the rules.

In curating shows, many galleries schedule events far in advance. This way, artists involved have notice and can plan their time accordingly to make new work or to keep their schedule free. And, since galleries schedule in advance, artists also have to do the same to ensure that their work is represented someplace. But it is possible to be invited to participate in a big solo exhibition at the last minute, within a month of showtime. This is great and can be a wonderful opportunity, but it is both a blessing and a curse at the same time because it can lend to a sparse or scattered showing of artworks, especially if the artist's best and newest works are already on display elsewhere since the artist hadn't planned for the solo show.

It is all too easy to bite off more than one can chew and to take on too many things. Especially in the arts where it can be hard to get one's work out there where it will be seen and so it is less than ideal to turn opportunities away when they present themselves. And I also realize that things can happen to cause last minute changes. That is expected. Crap happens. But how those last minute changes are handled can vary enormously and have a huge impact.

Sometimes a group, organization or individual can fall into a rut where the same things happen over and over again and a cycle of bad behavior forms. For example, if an institution chooses to extend a deadline because of a low quantity of submissions for a show, and then again for the next and the one after that, that group is establishing a pattern of behavior that actually encourages people to wait until the last minute, expecting that the deadline will be extended and thus disregarding the schedule as written. This is very very dangerous water to tread, both in regards to extending the deadline as an institution and in regards to delaying a submission as an artist.

By the nature of working in the arts, we are not wholly self-reliant. It can be a great disservice and show of disrespect to those with whom we are working (artist, curator, director, juror, outreach, publicity and so on) when we wait until the last minute to uphold our end of the bargain and thus delay others in their ability to do their own part. It is best to think about one another and to recognize that there are multiple people involved in making an exhibition happen, and not to force others to wait because of our own inability to do what is expected of us. Not only is it a matter of professionalism, but of common courtesy.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Competition Between Artists

There is a lot of competition in the arts, as in anything. I have spoken a bit about competition between institutions and arts organizations (and of the idea that we should limit opportunities to foster advancement) before. Now I am going to address the topic of competition between artists.

Some artists are very self-driven, to the extent that they will not inform other artists of opportunities and venues because they perceive of the other artists as a threat due to competition. However this attitude tends to foster itself such that other artists will not inform the self-driven artist of opportunities or events either. That artist then becomes an island of sorts, completely self-reliant both by design and out of necessity due to only being able to rely on him/herself.

I can understand not wanting to inform others of opportunities when it puts oneself in direct competition with them. For example, the more people enter a juried show, the more people will be rejected. Why decrease one's odds of getting in? However, there is more at stake and more involved in this than is seemingly apparent.

Take the juried show example. If an artist keeps it to him/herself rather than spreading the information to others, there may be fewer entries. But that artist can still be rejected, and some of the reasons and rationale for the rejection may actually spawn from there being fewer entries. I know that doesn't seem to follow, because it seems more likely that a piece would be accepted when there are fewer works to choose from. But if an artist submits an amazing work that simply doesn't play off of anything else submitted it may be rejected in favor of a more cohesive show or because it is misunderstood and doesn't seem to fit the theme. However, if that artist is not alone in his/her interpretation, his/her work may seem more suited to the show. So it can be a benefit to inform other artists of show opportunities so that more entries come in validating one's own approach/interpretation. (And in regards to non-local events, it may become beneficial later, should more than one artist from your city be accepted, because they may be able to carpool to deliver work.)

In regards to informing other artists of venues in which to show works, this can foster both competition and collaboration. It can foster competition as more artists try to sell similar types of works in the same venue. It can foster collaboration as all artists represented work to bring in more potential buyers who may be interested in others' wares as well. By working together, artists can also strengthen the organizations and venues themselves, helping them to keep their doors open and to maintain their passion.

In conclusion, I personally prefer to inform other artists of shows that they seem well-suited to or to help them to discern where they might want to go with their work. I prefer not to be an island. I won't deny that there are times that I do not wish to be in direct competition, and I am less likely to inform others of those opportunities (or at least to preface them that I'd prefer those artists not to step on my toes). Essentially, I think that it strengthens the art community as a whole when we help to support and care for one another as much as possible and that it provides a greater benefit when we treat one another in the same way, informing others of opportunities and encouraging interconnectedness. Especially in rough economic times when sales are down, it can help to have others to lean on and to look to for support.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Human Nature

I am glad to have had both pieces accepted into the Human Nature show coming up at Art Saint Louis this weekend. I will even be performing Gendering at the opening reception (footage of this performance will be shown through the exhibition later on). Please stop by and check it out.

Human Nature - His/Hers
Art Saint Louis
555 Washington Ave. Ste. 150
St. Louis, MO 63101
Jan. 19 - Feb. 19, 2009
reception: Sat., Jan. 17, 6-8 PM

Additionally, the reception for the ArtDimensions Square Foot show is on Friday, Jan. 16 at 7 PM. I have one piece in the show, which was previously selected to travel to Off the Wall at City Hall. The show runs through Jan. 31.

Square Foot Show
3rd floor gallery
1214 Washington Ave., 3rd floor (enter through MOSSA)
St. Louis, MO 63103

Claude & Domo go to Chicago

Claude & Domo went to Chicago this weekend, but they decided to hang out by the fireplace rather than go out in the winter wonderland that has befallen the city.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Commissions & Sales

A lot of places will take artwork on consignment. This is especially true for specialty shops, restaurants and other businesses that display works for extended periods of time as opposed to hosting rotating exhibitions. Unlike constantly changing gallery exhibitions, which tend to write checks at the end of the month for any works sold during the show, some of these venues may not pay the artists for works sold for extended periods of time.

These situations can be extremely challenging. If a venue has sold an artwork, the artist should be paid for it in a reasonable time frame, preferably on a month-by-month basis. Unfortunately this isn't always the case. Some venues don't think to pay the artist for works sold unless the artist reminds them to do so! (There are legal implications and ramifications involved in waiting extended periods for payment, but they can be difficult to pursue.)

There are many reasons for delayed payments including overall lack of organization, poor bookkeeping, staffing shortages, misunderstanding how to work with the artists themselves, difficulties making ends meet and greed (note: this is not the only item on this list as too many people would too readily assume).

Here are a few suggestions of ways to work around these situations.

- Don't exhibit your best-selling work in such a venue if it is more lucrative to show it elsewhere.

- Exhibit pieces that don't matter so much to you, that you harbor no real attachment to and that you won't be perturbed by not being paid for them in a timely manner.

- Check in with the venue frequently to inventory your work and keep track of sales. Changing out your work frequently will help to promote sales and encourage you to keep careful track of what you have in a venue and of what works are doing well there.

- Be fully aware of the venue's policies concerning artworks and avoid situations that do not have written consignment contracts. Look through paperwork carefully and make sure that you are in agreement with the terms outlined.

- Consider working with the venue to manage your own sales or offer to help manage overall artwork sales for them (assuming you are willing to invest the time and energy in this).

- Encourage a group to whom you belong (and whom you enjoy working with) to get involved and to offer to host rotating exhibitions in the space. (Let the venue know how this can be a benefit because it will encourage new people to come on a regular basis to see the changing shows.)

A lot of places are struggling nowadays to keep their doors open, so artists may find themselves having more and more difficulties collecting on sold works. As with many situations, being in communication and being as aware of the situation as possible by calling, emailing and checking in will help to ensure that you are paid in a timely manner. (Checking in will also help you to keep track of your work, how lucrative a venue is and whether or not you are having any issues with theft.)

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Hand Over Hand

As per usual due to my hectic schedule, I managed to see the Hand Over Hand exhibition right before it closed. Hand Over Hand is a showing of several pieces by Michael Shaughnessy and represents the inaugural exhibition at the Craft Alliance's Grand Center location in downtown St. Louis.

The first thing that struck me was the aroma. I was immediately enveloped in the smell of hay upon opening the door to the gallery. The aroma almost overwhelmed with its sweet grassy scent, but as I love the smell of hay I didn't mind it at all. Hay has so many powerful associations and connotations, and smell can bring back such poignant memories and experiences; I was swept back to my childhood migration between my mother's house here in St. Louis and my father's house in Centralia, IL.

The sculptural pieces themselves are by nature very organic and relate the outdoor environment back into the gallery walls and interior setting. The forms are minimal but bespeak a great history and tradition beyond solely artmaking to agricultural livelihoods and social interactions. An awareness of this is further imparted with the inclusion of a couple of in-process pieces that enable the viewer to better understand the creation of these works: how the materials were used, what kind of framework was built, how many people worked together to fabricate the artworks...

All in all, if you have a chance before the exhibition closes on Sunday, January 11, you should stop in and check it out. Assuming, of course, that you aren't allergic to hay...

This Week

This year is panning out to be pretty busy already. I am in two shows with receptions this weekend in Chicago, IL.

ARC Gallery
832 W. Superior St., Ste. 204
Jan. 7 - 31, 2009

Raising Our Voices
St. Louis Chapter of the national Women's Caucus for Art
Urban Art Retreat
1957 Spaulding Ave.
Dec. 13, 2008 - Jan. 31, 2009
This all-inclusive mail art show traveled to Chicago from St. Louis in December. It runs through the end of this month and benefits the Differently Minded Art Studio at the Urban Art Retreat.

Monday, January 5, 2009

What's in a name?

So you just got the publicity and press release on a big group project that you're involved with, and you've come to find out that your name is spelled wrong. (Or worse, it isn't even the right name.) What do you do?

Some artists get so irate and upset that their names are spelled wrong that they don't seek to remedy the situation. Instead they decide not to work with those people ever again and blacklist the gallery. But mistakes can and do happen and some errors are not a direct result of the gallery. There may have been a typo in the information you sent or perhaps the person who received your form couldn't read your handwriting; it is good to double check anything you send to ensure that you haven't caused any errors yourself. And, if you do find out about an error and are prompt enough, corrections may be able to be made.

It is much more beneficial to let the gallery know as soon as possible that your information is incorrect. This way, it can be corrected before further announcements and printed materials are released. Many galleries will release announcements to those participating before making them public so to avoid errors in the first place, so be sure to look such announcements over for discrepancies and respond as soon as you know of any so that your information can be changed in time.

Above all else, don't take it too personally. The institution likely didn't even know that it spelled your name incorrectly in the first place - it was probably not meant as a personal attack. (In all likelihood, they probably have never even met you or know much of you and that is part of why they got your name wrong.) I know that this knowledge may not rectify the situation, and it is something you should keep in mind when working with the institution again so that you can troubleshoot the situation should it arise a second time (should you decide to work with them again). If an institution is perpetually disorganized, scattered and insists on calling you by the wrong name then that is different, but don't hold one incident against them, especially if you did nothing to try to resolve it.

As with many other things, it is most important to be in good communication - communication can go a long way and can prevent a lot of this from happening in the first place.

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Dropping Off Art Out of Town

I have spoken before about showing art out of town, especially in regards to shipping work and overall things to consider. This post is devoted to the topic of hand-delivering work out of town.

Sometimes, a piece is too bulky or fragile to ship. This doesn't mean that you cannot show it out of town, but that you will want to consider how you will get it to the venue very closely. I have hand-delivered several pieces over the course of time. It can be quite nice to do so as it affords the opportunity to see the gallery in person and to meet some of the people who work and volunteer there. It helps to put face to names and can thus ease difficulties in communication.

However, hand-delivering works creates its own set of hassles and problems. Make absolutely certain that you arrive on time and have maps, understandable directions and gallery contact information, in case you get lost or detained in traffic.

It is good to let the gallery know in advance that you will be hand-delivering work and on what day you plan to do so. Nothing can be more frustrating than arriving at a venue during the appointed time only to find that no one is there to accept your work, especially if that venue is two hours away. That is much less likely to happen when they know to expect you, though.

Letting the gallery know when you'll be coming is especially important if the gallery is keeping open hours when they would otherwise be closed (between shows, for example). I have neglected to inform galleries of my hand-delivering work on occasion. This can cause issues even if the gallery said that they would be open (someone may have gone out on break; they may not have had volunteers at a certain time; they may have forgotten...). From personal experience where I assumed that someone would be present and that the information I had was correct, arriving only to find the venue closed and no one there to take my art, I can say with certainty that it is good to be certain that you are expected.

It is also wise to check and see if any other artists from your area will be delivering work for the show. This weekend, I was once again reminded of this, having driven to Chicago to drop off a piece right after another St. Louis artist in the show did the same! I hadn't even thought to ask if there were any other St. Louis artists represented, but now I wish that I had done so. Typically, I will try to carpool artworks if at all possible because it is much more efficient to do so. I have even been known to take works for several artists for jurying, knowing fully well that we would be in direct competition, because I so strongly believe in helping each other out and in being as efficient as possible.