Quick post today: As you may know, the Hilliard Museum exhibit that I will be in opens on the evening of the 14th. There is a press release online which gives a bit more information about the artists and the show itself which I thought everyone might enjoy. You can read the article at: http://museum.louisiana.edu/news/Louisiana-Voices-Six-Artists-Speak-to-Us. The exhibition runs September 15th through December 8th at the Paul & Lulu Hilliard University Art Museum in Lafayette, LA.
You may recall awhile back my mention of this upcoming exhibition. It has been scheduled for close to a year and now the opening is right around the corner! Louisiana Voices: Six Artists Speak to Us will be held at the Paul and Lulu Hilliard University Art Museum in Lafayette, LA as part of the Louisiana Bicentennial. A couple of artists have been added since that early post so the featured artists are Melissa Bonin, Linda Trappey Dautreuil, Troy Dugas, Amy Guidry, Lisa Osborn, and Marjorie Pierson. The exhibition will open September 15th with a reception the night before on September 14th from 6-8pm.
The exhibition will remain up through December 8th, so there will be plenty of opportunity to see the exhibit even if you miss the opening reception. I should mention there will also be an exhibition panel discussion on September 29th at 2pm. For more information about the exhibit visit: http://museum.louisiana.edu/exhibitions.
First, I should apologize for my absence last week. I have lots going on and much to share, which I will be doing over the week so be on the lookout. As some of you may know, last week the arts community of Louisiana received some sad news- legislators approved a 1/3 cut in Decentralized Arts Funding (DAF) and Statewide Art Grants (SAG). This affects an estimated 148,000 jobs, Louisiana’s tourism industry, as well as artists, teachers, museums, libraries, theaters, art centers, festivals, among others. The news is grim, especially given the fact the Arts tend to be the first that are cut and already do not receive enough funding. I personally know of small museums and art centers that have been struggling to get any kind of funding and risk closing.
So what can we do?
The most obvious answer deals with how we vote and voicing our opinion to local and national politicians. Thanks to the internet and groups such as Louisiana Citizens for the Arts, you can stay up to date on these issues and contact the appropriate individuals with the click of a button. And don’t worry about writing the most profound letter, either. My thoughts are as long as you are writing something, even if it’s just to send the form letter already provided, it will make a difference. All correspondence adds up.
That being said, politicians need to see numbers. Letters and phone calls are great, but it also boils down to whether the public is willing to put their money where their mouth is. You say you love art, but do you really? They need to see the numbers. Numbers being the tourism dollars, the tax revenue, the number of people attending arts events, and so on. If you want to prove that these artists and organizations matter, as well as support them along the way, you need to do the following:
Buy art— Seriously. This is not some propaganda I’m passing along because I’m an artist. If you buy art you’ll support artists, galleries, museums, and art centers so they can continue to thrive in your community rather than closing down or moving somewhere else where they appreciate art. In turn, those sales taxes and income taxes from art speak highly in the eyes of the government. Funding goes to those that make money and are a good investment.
Attend events— Support your local arts community by attending performances, exhibit openings, lectures, and so forth. You’ll have an entertaining evening and know you’re making a difference in the process. Even if it’s a free event, you’re still helping because those numbers matter.
Sign the guestbook— So many people attend an event and pass by the guestbook without signing. Maybe you don’t think it’s important or you are weary to share your information. Whatever the case may be, you need to sign the guestbook. Those names translate to numbers. Museums and art centers report those numbers in order to prove their importance and receive funding. No one wants to support a museum if they have no visitors. So sign your name- you don’t have to give any other information unless you want to- as long as there is a name, it adds to the numbers.
Become a member— Aside from government funding, these organizations receive funds from, well, you! Paying for an event is great, but if you really want to help, become a member. You can join any or all, and there are various levels for joining most groups. Many museums and art centers offer general membership at reasonable rates, some offer rates for students and seniors, so check their websites.
How do you support the Arts? Feel free to add ideas in the comments section.
Two more paintings from my New Realm series have recently found new homes. Both Mushrooms and Snail are acrylic on canvas, 5″ x 5″ paintings from the New Realm 5 x 5 series. The 5 x 5’s spotlighted different characters and elements from the larger paintings in the series. Both paintings were sold at the Masur Museum of Art’s Off the Wall fundraiser in which part of the proceeds benefit the museum. To view more paintings from the entire series, go to this direct link: www.amyguidry.com/beginning.html.
I have some exciting news to share even though this event is still a little ways away. I have been invited to be one of four featured artists during the Louisiana Bicentennial at the Paul and Lulu Hilliard University Art Museum. The exhibition is scheduled for the Fall of 2012 and will feature works by Melissa Bonin, Linda Trappey Dautreuil, Troy Dugas, and myself (Amy Guidry). As I mentioned, the exhibit will be during the Louisiana Bicentennial, which marks the 200th anniversary of Louisiana’s attainment of statehood as the 18th state in the Union, and is celebrated with events throughout the state. I will be posting more information closer to time- the exhibit will be held in Fall 2012 at the Hilliard Museum in Lafayette, LA.
I’m excited to announce that my painting “Zachary” will be in the upcoming “Portraits and Their Stories” exhibition at the Cedar Rapids Museum of Art. “Zachary” is part of the museum’s collection and will be amongst the many other portraits in their collection (including Grant Wood of “American Gothic” fame) as well as some pieces on loan. “Zachary” was one of my portrait series paintings done during 2005-2006 (which you can view a few of on my Facebook Fan Page). The exhibition will be up September 24th, 2011 through January 15, 2012- ample opportunity for those of you in the Midwest to see my work in person. For more information on the exhibit visit the Cedar Rapids Museum of Art website at this direct link.
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 have some great news to share- if you may recall, I had a solo exhibition earlier this year at the Schepis Museum in Columbia, LA. Well, my work is now in their permanent collection! I am honored that I am the first artist in the southwestern area of Louisiana to have their work included in the Louisiana Artists collection at the Schepis Museum. My painting, “Jenny,” is now in the collection and is one of my earlier works from 2005. It is an acrylic on canvas, 13″ wide by 16″ high, framed. As mentioned before, such small photos don’t do the work justice, so be sure to get a better look on my website. The direct link can be found here: www.AmyGuidry.com.
Also, don’t miss out on the opportunity to win one of my paintings! Sign up for my newsletter to be entered to win a work from my 5 x 5 New Realm series. Just click on the direct link and enter your email address for entry- www.AmyGuidry.com Sweepstakes.
I am happy to announce that my work is now in the permanent collection of the Cedar Rapids Museum of Art in Cedar Rapids, IA. My painting, “Zachary,” from my 2005 series of work is now part of the museum’s collection. The painting is 26″w x 22″h, framed, and an acrylic on canvas. To view a larger image of “Zachary,” visit my Facebook fan page at this direct link. While you are there, be sure to join my page for the latest updates!
No one cares about your art more than you do. It’s true. It’s not unlike showing your vacation photos to everyone. They mean well, but after about two minutes, the enthusiasm wears off and their eyes glaze over. I was inspired to write this after going through some old art magazines to clear out the mountain of periodicals I’ve saved. I came across a rather disheartening article in a very popular magazine. The author was giving advice on how to be a successful artist. Some of the author’s tips? Paint what sells- not more “complex” paintings, don’t bother showing in libraries or university galleries since they don’t generate sales (museums usually don’t either, but I don’t know an artist alive that wouldn’t jump at the chance to show in a museum), and sell on Ebay- specifically bright, colorful, quick paintings- no drawings. I know better than this and even I found it depressing! I can only imagine what other artists must think.
So this is what leads me to my frustration. I don’t care who they are or if they mean well, no one truly cares about your art or your art career as much as you do. This is why you are the only one that can determine what your goals are and if, at the end of the day, you’ve done all that you can to achieve those goals. Don’t listen to the naysayers, the haters, the critics, the cynics, or the non-believers. What do they know anyway? Even some of the experts can’t always predict what you, personally, need to do. That’s why it’s up to you to take in all this information and filter through it and find what is applicable and toss away what’s not. You know what you need to do. You know if your work is the best it can be. You know what you should create. If you try to “paint what sells,” you’ll be chasing your tail for quite some time. Popularity changes as do marketing trends. Something that sells one day, won’t the next. That’s why there are trend analysts that make a living at this. Great work is great work and it will attract its own popularity. And while I’m at it- if you were to avoid university galleries, libraries, museums, or any other venue for fear of little to no sales, you wouldn’t be an artist, would you? I couldn’t imagine not having the experience of seeing art, especially when I was a student, at a university gallery or museum. Some of the most significant shows of our time come from these venues.
In my own personal experience, I’ve heard it all. I’ve been told what I should paint, how I should paint, and I’ve even had a drunk non-artist tell me what is and isn’t art. When I made the decision to paint and to try to get into a gallery exhibit, even one of my “good” friends told me that I couldn’t do it. It’s a good thing I didn’t listen to any of these people, otherwise I may not have even been an artist at all. Anyone listening to that kind of advice would quit before even starting. Don’t make that mistake. If you’re already a working artist, just keep on trucking. If you’re just starting out, stay focused and put your blinders on. And maybe invest in some good ear plugs.
Being a true artist takes grit. There’s a lot of blood, sweat, and tears, and you’ll need to develop a thick skin. However, I can’t imagine a more rewarding experience. I always like to think of these words by Ralph Waldo Emerson: “Nothing great was ever achieved without enthusiasm.”
If you’d like to learn more about my own work and what I’ve been up to, check out my website at www.AmyGuidry.com.