You've done them, right? Had a private showing of your work to friends and colleagues. Maybe you know of a few people who bought your work before and you have new work you'd like them to see. By invitation:

A glass of wine, a beer, something good to eat, great conversation, some introductions, no big deal. A Sunday afternoon (when there's no football game), perhaps after work on a weeknight, a time to unwind, do something a little different and look at some art. Take some care how you prepare. Nice lighting, something good playing at low volume in the background. Perhaps even a few portfolios to look at that are well edited, beautifully printed and clearly presented.

Over now many years I've held these with varying degrees of success. I had one last year that almost no one came to, but other ones have been very good. No, this isn't just about selling your work, although that is a bonus if it does happen. It is about getting your work seen. 

Look, what's the point of good work languishing, sitting in a box somewhere unseen? If you're excited by something you've made that is really good and significant a gallery is not the only place for people to see it, it is just one of the places. Most galleries have long lead times and plan their shows far in advance. Few galleries can adapt quickly, show new work soon after it's made.  Even an exhibition space in a library or a hospital has a line of people wanting to show their work there. Then there is framing and an artist statement and a press release too: it all gets so formal (to say nothing about the expense).

Have a party, invite your friends and past supporters of your work. And show your work. Don't have a place to show your art? Find a room in the town hall, a meeting room in a church or synagogue, borrow the use of a conference room at work. Get industrious. Maybe you can get that gallery owner to come see your work, or that museum curator. Hint: offer to pick them up and return them. Too busy with the prep for your invitational art party? Ask a friend to do it. I've done this in Boston over the years. Chances are the curator will appreciate that you are making it easy for them. 

Invite anyone you can think of that will be moved by your work. Even strangers. Make sure you pester them with reminders about the event coming up. Each time you do that include a new amazing picture in your email or the card you send them. If you do send a card, make it be beautiful. The party is just one time but the card lasts and lasts. A curator I sent the card to of the barn in the wheat field didn't come to my party but years later I saw it on her bulletin board at her desk. 

Finally, think about it this way. You are a practicing artist making what you believe to be your best work ever. But you get shut out every which way you turn. The galleries won't see you, the museums are worse. The portfolio reviews are expensive, abusive and debilitating. Take control. Bring the people to you. Kill yourself getting it all together to have have your showing and only 13 people come? That's 13 more than if you'd done nothing. And who knows, maybe this one will start a tradition of you having one of these every couple of years or so. I say, go for it.

Topics: Commentary,art

Permalink | Posted October 15, 2015