I have a new exhibition coming up in just a couple of weeks! Some of my latest works from my “In Our Veins” series will be featured in a group exhibit at Barrister’s Gallery in New Orleans. The exhibit is titled “Artists Who Wish They Were Dead” and will be guest-curated by artist Dan Tague. I think this will prove to be an interesting show- I’m excited to see the results. The opening reception will be August 13th from 6-9pm in conjunction with the Second Saturday Artwalk held in the New Orleans St. Claude Arts District (SCAD).
I had a delightful surprise arrive in the mail the other day. My copies of the CALYX Journal featuring my work on the cover arrived! I’m honored to be the cover artist for their 35th Anniversary- Special Expanded edition, and not only that, but my work is on the inside as well. My painting “Adaptation” is on the cover and “Freedom” is on page 65. Both paintings are from my “New Realm” series which is a modern and surreal spin on fairytales in which the woman is the heroine, not the victim.
The CALYX Journal is comprised of art and literature by women, including poetry, photography, paintings, short stories, essays, and reviews. They were also the first in the U.S. to publish Frida Kahlo’s (one of my Surrealist heroes) works in color.
Recently on a trip to Baton Rouge, I came across a certain magazine, which happened to have their Art Issue out. So of course I picked it up, although I found something a bit bothersome in it. They conducted a little poll of sorts in which they asked “What would it take for you to buy a piece of art?” Now, only 3 people were featured, but apparently not one of them even own art to begin with, though one at least said she’s “in the market.” The other two, however, had some pretty appalling answers. One said that money is the issue and considers art a “superfluous expense.” Ouch. Way to use that word-a-day calendar, buddy, but really? Superfluous? Do you really consider art to be unnecessary? The next appalling response said that it would require “getting the artist to come down on the price” and that her artist friend sells work “for like $1000.” I have to ask how much do you earn for 2 weeks or more of work? (And 2 weeks is nothing, by the way, most artists, including myself, pour a month into a piece and that’s full-time.) Cut that $1000 in half after the gallery gets their cut, and the artist is not even making minimum wage. Now imagine if that was your paycheck- suddenly $1000 isn’t so much.
Okay, my point here is not to lambaste these folks, but to dispel some -unfortunatley- common misperceptions. When considering the worth of a work of art, so many people forget that hours, weeks, months, sometimes years have been sacrificed to create art. And I do mean sacrificed because so many artists put this amount of time into their work after already putting in a full day at another job, and they have families to care for, not to mention giving up time to themselves, and working during weekends, holidays, and vacation time. And even if there isn’t a gallery involved, $1000 for example, is a small price to pay for that person’s efforts. Not to mention, this is a one-of-a-kind, original work of art. There will never be another. It’s not manufactured in China, it’s not mass-produced, and you’ll never find another one like it. People pay FAR more for clothes, purses, cars, televisions, computers, etc. when those items ARE mass-produced. I don’t get it.
As for being superfluous, well, I certainly hope that is not the majority’s opinion… I find that comment disturbing regardless of the fact that I’m an artist. We are visual creatures- we can’t help but marvel at the sight of a rainbow, or find enjoyment at looking at photos of people, places, things, we birdwatch, peoplewatch, and even stylewatch. Imagine if the world around you had been replaced by stark walls and concrete. No more pictures on your walls. Your clothes have been replaced with the same drab uniform. What if color no longer existed? Or patterns? No shapes, no lines, just void areas of space. I can guarantee you would become bored and even depressed. Just at its most basic level, art affects our moods, uplifts us, speaks to us. Go a little deeper and add a narrative to that art and it can make us laugh, cry, reminisce, and that’s just the tip of the iceberg. We need art just as much as we need music, literature, and theater. We enjoy them. We connect with them. They help us to understand this crazy world a little better and make it a little more pleasant along the way. I say that is most certainly a necessity.
I recently attended the Preview Party and Awards Presentation for the 2011 Art Melt at the Louisiana State Museum in Baton Rouge, LA. During the presentation, I was pleasantly surprised to see that as the very first award was presented, my painting “Trophy” suddenly flashed upon the screen. I received the Jurors’ Choice Award in which juror Kelli Scott Kelley gave a talk about my work. It was an honor just to be selected for the exhibition since these things can be tough to get into given the hundreds, sometimes thousands of entries juried competitions typically receive. So imagine my surprise when my work was announced for an award. And it gets better! Later on, I was called upon again for an Honorable Mention (which, again, I am honored, though I am surprised that a work can receive more than one award). All in all, it was a fun event and a great exhibit. And even if you missed the opening, the show will be up through August 28th so there is still plenty of time.
I recently attended the opening reception for Rivers at Wally Workman Gallery in Austin, TX. My painting “Synergy” is featured in the group exhibition as well as many other works by the gallery’s represented artists. I’ve posted a few photos from the event, but you can view the entire album at www.AmyGuidry.com/events.html.
With two group shows less than a week apart, another in the next month, and a solo show only 7 months away, a lot of pe0ple think I’m really busy. Or uber-busy. It seems normal to me, though, especially if I want to maintain a career as an artist. So this has me thinking that this must not be the norm, which is unfortunate because I like to think that artists are all showing their work somewhere other than their basement. So I have to ask- are you doing all that you can to promote your work? Or do you not know where to start? For those that are beginners, I thought I’d take this opportunity to discuss how to exhibit your art. And maybe even those of you who are not new to this will pick up some ideas.
First, I like to ignore all the “rules” regarding getting into galleries. So many people say you should start small and local. Yes, there is some truth to this, but don’t sell yourself short. Some of my very first exhibitions were out of my city and out of my state, so there goes that rule. Secondly, there are a lot of people that say you shouldn’t even approach a gallery, that you should just let them call you. What?? If I want something, I don’t just sit on my couch and will it to me. I go out and get it. Now, don’t get me wrong, that doesn’t mean you can just march into a gallery and dump your portfolio in their lap. You should send them your work in a professional manner- read my steps for doing this in a previous post.
Galleries like to know that you are going to be reliable and not flake out if they book a show with you for several months/years in advance, hence the need for a good resume. So you’ll need to build your exhibition history. But how do you get an exhibit if you have never exhibited before? I know- it’s like which came first, the chicken or the egg. This is where starting small and local comes in since you’re more likely to get into a gallery that knows you personally through local events, plus if they are not solely looking for established artists, you’ll have a better chance. That said, don’t limit yourself, either. There’s no harm in trying to get shows elsewhere- especially group exhibitions since galleries know that if you drop out, it won’t be so hard to replace you or make up for it.
In addition to galleries, there are other ways to exhibit your work. I’d recommend this whether you need to build your exhibition history or even if you’ve done hundreds of shows. You can never reach enough people.
University galleries and museums– great to have on your resume, but won’t result in sales necessarily because the general public doesn’t think to go there to buy art. That’s just the perception they have. However, these venues are very prestigious and build your credibility among collectors and galleries. You will need a few shows under your belt to score one of these, but just to say, this is something you should be aiming for.
Local museums– more likely to show your work these days due to the economic crisis. Their funding has been limited since the government loves to cut arts funding first, so they can’t afford to ship work and give stipends to national/international artists. So get to know your local museum and send them a proposal.
Juried exhibitions– Now there is a lot of debate over these types of shows since some think they lead to nothing, while others think you should never pass an opportunity to exhibit. If you are completely new to exhibiting your work, I say go with the latter. When you’re starting out, you won’t discriminate so much- there’s plenty of time to do that later once you’ve been showing a lot. If you’ve built a bit of an exhibition history, that’s a different story. Personally, I will do juried exhibits, but that’s only if I feel they are worthwhile. I decide based on: Where the show is being held– is it a good venue or is it some cube in the middle of nowhere? Who is the juror– someone prestigious in the art world or just somebody’s grandma that took a watercolor class once? Is the venue insured? Nevermind whether your own work is insured, if the venue itself can’t afford insurance, then it’s probably not a good one (sorry). What city/state/country is the venue located– again, don’t go with someplace not typically known for art. Is it a vanity gallery? There are a few of those out there holding juried shows- make sure the gallery has a good reputation.
Lastly, look into exhibition opportunities that are off the beaten path. Pop-up galleries are the latest “it” spaces and do not require representation, so you are more likely to get into one. Also, if you are just starting out, look into showing at coffee shops, bookstores, libraries, bank lobbies, doctors’ offices, law firms, gift shops, restaurants, etc. Although food and smoke near your work is a scary concept, so just consider that risk, but look into making your own exhibits through these venues. Not all will lead to sales, which is why many don’t bother, but it will build your name in the community, build your exhibition history (until you can gain more via galleries, etc.), and it can lead to future sales since people will see your work and talk about it with others well after your show. Each step builds upon the other. It all takes time- Rome wasn’t built in a day.
I’m sure I’m forgetting some things, so if you have ideas for opportunities to share, please feel free to add them in the comments section.
I’m excited to announce a new feature on my work! Morgan King of Visionary Artistry Mag did a feature, very thorough at that, on my art. There’s a mix of paintings featured including some of my most recent work from my “In Our Veins” series. To read the article, visit this link: http://visionaryartistrymag.com/2011/07/amy-guidry-inspired-by-nature/.