Think before you show

Robert Genn has an absolutely brilliant newsletter this week. It’s all about the context in which you show your art. Or is it brilliant? Read some of the comments and see if you agree that he’s off base.

I am always counseling artists to know when it’s time to move on to better venues. You may pick up some patrons at the lower levels, but isn’t it better to show in increasingly more art-appropriate venues? Or does it matter?

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6 comments to Think before you show

  • Joseph Murray

    Hello Alyson ! I think Robert Genn is right on target . It is important to start at lower levels and get your feet wet etc. But artistic perception, visual acuity, imagination, art sophistication, and cultural intelligence, seems to prevail more at higher levels of artistic representation . I do believe you could put the same art work at two different venues one of higher stature and one of lower and the results would be dramatically different . So to me that is why it is important to continually try and upgrade into better art venues . IF the viewers or potential collectors believe you are important to the art world as witnessed by the publicity and hype then the artist’s potential for increased income is enhanced . It would be great if this stigma was not prevalent . Nice to hear that Paul Dorrell believes we are in a Renaissance across America for art in all areas . I have noticed increased attendance at regional art shows this summer . Take Care, Joseph Murray Wayuga Art Studio

  • This was an interesting “test”. I agree that showing in upscale locales is a good thing if you can but it’s not always that important. I know an artist who showed in my hometown…a sleepy little town. But the artist in question woke things up. He is deserving of every bit of attention he gets. The guy is a master! Someone evidently put the word out on him because people started coming from all over the country to see and buy his work. He now shows in NY or anywhere he wants and sells for big prices. So this was a case of the art demanding attention and someone with a good connection throwing some clout around. Otherwise, it never would have happened here. We have a great art musuem here, but how often do you see an art career get launched in a very big way in a town of about 7,500 people?

  • People definitely make judgments about the value of art work based on the setting or context in which they see it displayed, so I agree with Robert on that level. The more prestigious galleries will get better prices for your work, and will probably sell more of it. What no one has mentioned so far is that the galleries themselves are judged in a similar manner… top of the line galleries don’t spring into existence overnight. Their reputations are created by consistently good curation, not just good decor or smart location. They depend on being able to show the best art they can find just as much as artists depend on them. There is one place where I think things have changed a bit and that’s in the impact of media. My Great Bowl O Fire has been featured in Variety Magazine, DIY Network’s Holiday Gift Guide, The Chicago Tribune, The Sun Times and a half dozen smaller magazines. All of which looks great on the CV. Variety’s article links to my site as does the DIY gift guide, but I receive less than a dozen visits to the site a month from those sources and they’ve never generated a single sale. On the other hand, I’ve had links from even obscure blogs generate 100s or 1000s of visits as well as sales. So, although the mainstream media is important to long term development of reputation and can affect pricing, it doesn’t seem to be as good a venue for sales as smaller personal sites.

  • The first time we heard them was January 1st 2007 …They were a group of musicians playing at the corner of Bay st. & Bloor st. in Toronto…A drummer, a flautist, a bass guitarist, & two more …they play Sir Duke, isn’t she lovely, Hanson mmbop, a few Beatles gems, & after a while they start to repeat songs…they are so good…we stand & dance without really moving, we hold hands, sometimes we sing the chorus…others do too…the others are usually people in wheelchairs, mothers with children in carriages, smokers escaping their workplace, & the unemployed…we gave them 20 dollars & spent the best 15 minutes of the entire previous holiday season … they have been back to the street corner twice since then …the last time we went & bought some chips to eat while we listened… this is the closest we have been to a concert in years…

  • Brian: Here’s to waking things up! I’d like to see it happen in my sleepy town, but someone else is going to have to be responsible for it. John: Yes, media is more and more important. Media is breaking down the solid walls that used to exist between high art and popular culture. Media is taking art directly to the people. And it’s in such flux right now. How exciting to be a part of it!

  • Joseph: Yep. Try a venue on for size. If it doesn’t work for you, know when it’s time to move on.