Too many people overvalue what they are not and undervalue what they are.
The universe sent me several messages that remained unread until recently. It occurred in a period of time where I thought I was pursuing opportunities to expand my art career when in fact I was serving someone else's agenda. I may be a slow learner. Looking back I can now see a pattern of, as Malcom Forbes said; Placing too much value on what I am not and not enough value on what I am.
The First Message: Stop trying to fit in.
In the last couple of years I have been moving away from larger organizations to focus on opportunities in my local community. On the advice of a member of my art guild, I began making work that looked more like what is selling here in Southern Utah; landscapes. I displayed my new work at an exhibit space run by the art guild. The gallery was poorly hung and sales were minimal. I paid a fee to hang and a commission. Next I sought out a commercial gallery.
The Second Message: Looks are not everything
The first gallery and frame shop I was in hung my work in the hall, and didn’t provide me with a contract. After constantly finding the gallery closed during normal business I picked up my two pieces. The second gallery I pursued was in a beautiful venue with lots of traffic and a regular staff. I approached the director by sharing my business card which listed Abramshe Textile Arts, she was hesistent until I showed her images of my work on Instagram. We made an appointment for the next week. The gallery took four pieces and gave me a contract. I thought it was the perfect fit. It’s been months. Nothing has sold. They do not reach out or promote my work. It looked good on the surface, but the result prove otherwise.
The Third Message: Trust your gut feeling
After leaving the art guild I tried joining non profit arts organization. This group feels right to me. They have a delightful gallery, gift shop, and co-op teaching spaces. The location is just 40 minutes away from my house. Each month they have themed exhibitions which I enter and have won prize money. Twice a year the have a juried artist bazaar where I can sell a variety of small work without having to run a booth at an art fair. I have sold several pieces for a fraction of the commissions of a commercial gallery. This gives me the option to sell at lower price points and I can test ideas for larger projects. Best of all, it's a welcoming creative community.
The Final Message: Trust the Universe to send you what you desire
After two failed attempts to create a solo exhibition (one was shut down due to a leak in the ceiling, the other had a crowd of three for the opening) the curator of the art museum reached out to offer me an exhibit in the beautiful and large downstairs gallery. Because of those two previous exhibitions I had more than half of the work needed ready to hang in a gallery setting. I had set up an inventory, a file of images, and an artists statement. I had prepared for opportunity waiting to be presented.
“Merging Lines” pairs my work with a sculpture doing large scale figures with wire in a style not unlike Alexzander Calder. In that exhibit I assembled 25 pieces of portraits I have been creating over the past nine years. It’s work I am passionate about. Each piece was hung beside a statement written to help the viewer better understand the work. The result was well received by the public including tours with local schools and the university.
The museum staff and curator were so engaged with making the exhibition successful. Everything from social media marketing to professionally printed invitations and promotional material. The first day the exhibit opened in December there was a huge crowd attending a seasonal Light the Night event with music and lots of family groups. The last first Friday in February the museum hosted a closing celebration of the exhibit. Despite the rainy cold weather I was still greeting people a half hour after the event was supposed to end.
Everything about this setting spoke to me as being what I had been seeking. When the exhibit closes at the end of the month, I will be ready to shop this group of work to another public space with a professional team to hang and promote my work.
Today I declared myself a fine artist.
I am not a quilter, although I stitch the surface. I am not a textile artist, although I work with fabric. My work is museum quality and my subject matter is always something that speaks to me.
Until Next Time