Tripping on the LES: Evans, Williams, Almeida, Martinez, P-Orridge

In a recent foray to the galleries on the Lower East Side, I experienced spatial shifts, woozy geometry, surrealistic portraits and hallucinogenic patterns. Call it LSD on the LES. (I wasn't really tripping; it just felt that way.)

Franklin Evans
At Sue Scott Gallery on Rivington Street, Franklin Evans transformed the space with tape, paint and lots of colored stuff. According to the gallery press release, Evans recreated his own studio. It felt like walking into an notebook--no, into an artist's head, an experience, if you are an artist, that will not feel unfamiliar, even if the specific contents are different from what's in your own cabeza. The show ended October 24, but here's a peek at what I saw:

Evans at Sue Scott: Looking toward the gallery entrance, with a wall-and-floor detail below


It's not always easy to determine what's three dimensional and what appears to be that way. Hint: The round tunnel, above, is on a flat wall that juts into the gallery to divide the space in two. Elements from the wall continue onto the floor
Below, a painting leans up against a wall; the "wall" at left is open, defined by tape from ceiling to floor. I don't know about anyone else, but I proceeded slowly through the space, as much to take it all in as to navigate the spatial distortions

. . . . . .
Michael Williams
The vertiginous painting by Michael Williams, below, crams all of Evans's spatiality into a two dimentional surface. Williams's show, Uncle Big, is at Canada on Chrystie Street through November 15. While there's more to Williams than vertigo, most of his visual narratives seem to be spaced-out meditations on everyday life.

Williams at Canada: Mikes Zone, oil on canvas, 40 x 60 inches
Detail below, with a frosting-like palette and surface

.. . . . . .

Caetano de Almieda

Up through November 15, the Brazilian Caetano de Almieda pulls you into his dialog with geometric abstraction at Eleven Rivington . I particularly liked his hallucinogenic grid, below, which seems to breathe with you, inhaling and exhaling before your eyes.

Almeida At Eleven Rivington: 3825 Cores (3285 Colors), 2008, acrylic on canvas, app. 59 x 47 inches
Detail below .

. . . . . .

Max-Carlos Martinez

Martinez's first-time solo is at Christopher Henry Gallery through November 1. As suggested by the title of the show, The Pursuit of Happiness (Is a Warm Gun), the work mixes referents and ideas. Cowboys and Indians take you through a narrative that suggests historical struggle and cultural identity painted with what seems to be a mescaline-dipped brush. The smaller works are framed and glazed, so as you peer into the work, you catch a glimpse of yourself--another layer of history and identity. But are you adding something of your culture and history to the artist's? Or is he adding his to yours?

For his part, the self-taught Martinez says simply: "Inspired by my tripping through america/as an insider, as an outsider/revolving doors and cultural mores/dog bless america!"

Martinez at Christopher Henry: Under My Thumb, 2009, 42 x 108 inches; and Pillow Talk, 2009, 74 x 60 inches, both acrylic on paper

Below: Pillow Talk detail with an electric palette and retinally challenging pattern

Above: She Came in Through the Bathroom Window
Below: Tennessee Waltz, both 2009, acrylic on paper, 30 x 22 inches

. . . . . .

Genesis Breyer P-Orridge
Identity is a thread that also runs through 30 Years of Being Cut Up at Invisible-Exports on Orchard Street, which closed October 18. The unique individual known as Genesis Breyer P-Orridge, a cross-dressing, pandrogynous man who had himself surgically and cosmetically altered to look like his paramour, Lady Jane Breyer, showed three decades of collages. The mix-it-up medium would seem to suit the artist, and while there are more exposed body parts than I care to show you here, this collage of a certain British monarch--more Surrealist than psychedelic--made me laugh out loud:

Genesis Breyer P-Orridge at Invisible-Exports: English Breakfast, collage


Coincidentally: Ramsay and Mann

By now you know my visual guidestick: Two's a coincidence, three's a trend. Here we have a coincidence, all the more striking because the galleries are around the corner from one another in the same building and on the same floor.
In several key pieces in their shows, Debra Ramsay at Blank Space and David Mann at McKenzie Fine Art (both at 511 W. 25th) are working with similar elements: a symmetrical composition with an "exploded" vertical core, built up through repeated elements, and executed with modulated color and a strong sense of materiality and process. Transparent or translucent color allows you to view each work through a chromatic scrim.
Each exhibition satisfies on its own, but the visual reciprocity enhances the experience. There are differences, of course. Scale is the most obvious; Mann works larger. Color is another; Ramsay has the more neutral palette. And the materials--acrylic, encaustic--refract the light differently. See for yourself.
Both shows are up now: Ramsay's through October 31, Mann's through November 14..

Debra Ramsay: Measuring Parallels 33, 2008, encaustic and eggshell on birch panel, 12 x 24 inches
Detail below


David Mann: Phantasm, 2009, acrylic and oil on canvas over board, 58 1/8 x 68 1/8 inches

Detail below

Installation views: Ramsay at Blank Space, left, and Mann at McKenzie Fine Art



Marketing Mondays: The "Adjective" Artist. How Do You Define Yourself?

A short while back, a reader with the nom de blog of Quilt Works asked, “Have you ever done features on fiber artists?” Man, did she push a button!

Love the Work, Hate the Adjective
Let me start out by saying this: Quilt Works, I mean you no disrespect. I love quilts and textiles. Amish quilts, Gee’s Bend quilts, Faith Ringgold’s quilts, Alighero e Boeti’s embroidered canvases, and the work in fiber of many other artists, well known or lesser so. So it’s not the medium that pushes my button but the use of the adjective as a means of identification.

Allie Pettway quilt. Pettway is one of the Gee's Bend Quilters represented by the New York gallery Ameringer/McEnery/Yohe. (Image from the Internet)

In one of my first posts for this blog, I wrote my personal manifesto, I Am Not an Encaustic Artist. As I said in the post, I work in the medium because it allows me to express myself in the best possible way, but I don't want to be defined by it. Encaustic is something I use (and love using), but it's not who I am.

Polly Apfelbaum's "fallen paintings" made with fabric dye on cut fabric: fiber art or painting? (Image from the Internet)

Avoid the Typecasting
Those of us who work in particular mediums—whether encaustic or fiber, metalpoint or clay, or any one of a number of other at-the-edges-of-mainstream materials—run the risk of being pigeonholed by the particularity of the material. We didn’t go to “fiber art school” or “metalpoint school.” We went to art school where we tried a variety of materials. As artists we express ourselves in the medium that resonates for us.
It’s easy to get typecast, and from there to hear a comment like, “We already showed one fiber artist this year.” Could you imagine a dealer saying that about oil? (Those Sopranos actors are dealing with a similar issue right now, I’ll bet. Lots of opportunities to play thugs, but romantic leads? Not so much.)

I’ll bet that Oliver Herring, when he was crocheting his sculptures a decade ago, called himself a sculptor, not a fiber artist (he was just on the cover of the September Art News, by the way). I'll bet Shinique Smith, who works with baled forms, and Peter Weber, who works with folded felt, do not call themselves fiber artists.

Shinique Smith: work from a recent solo exhibition at Yvon Labert Gallery
Peter Weber: from a show at Thatcher Projects in 2008

Maybe you think I’m being petty
Who has the more visible careers—“fiber artists” or non-adjectival artists like Apfelbaum, Smith, and Weber? "Fiber artists" or Tracy Emin, whose recent work consisted of stitched blankets? “Encaustic artists” or a painter like Jasper Johns, who employs encaustic in his work?
To answer Quilt Works’s question, I have written about artists who work with fiber or fiber constructions. My report from the 2009 Armory week in New York, for instance, included a post called Sew Me the Money, which included Emin’s blankets, El Anatsui’s wall-size bottle-cap constructions (you could easily call them tapestries), Mary Heilmann’s woven chairs, and other work.

Interestingly, any of the aforementioned artists who work with fiber could easily be the subject of a feature in a textile magazine, but the reverse does not hold true. How many self-identified weavers, for instance, have you see in in Art in America? There is plenty of work in fiber in those publications, but it's under the conventional art categories of painting, sculpture, work on paper, maybe installation. Indeed, when I was looking at some of the textile-influenced work at shows during Armory week in New York, I couldn't help thinking that I've seen so much better by artists who might define themselves as "fiber artists"--but much of the rest of the art world hasn't seen this work because it's sequestered in "fiber" and "textile" shows.

(The quilts are an interesting issue on their own. Those that spring out of a particular culture--Amish or Gee's Bend, or Navajo weaving for that matter, may be included in museum and gallery shows, but typically under the cultural rubric; individual artists often remain anonymous.)

Jasper Johns: "encaustic artist" or painter? Installation from Focus: Jasper Johns at MoMA in early 2009
"Fiber art" or art? Tracey Emin stitched blanket at White Cube Gallery's booth at the Armory Fair, March 2009

Acknowledging our Commonalities, Limiting our Limitations
I love materiality, and I understand the powerful need for artists to align themselves with others. I have done it myself--and still do when the occasion seems appropriate to me. But as a general means of identification, no. I currently run an annual conference for painters who work in encaustic, and some years ago I edited a magazine called Fiberarts, which is still published. I think the specific focus of a publication or event provides a place for artists who work in a particular medium to show their work to that particular audience, to share information and network. This is true of other "adjectives" as well: women artists, black artists, gay artists, and artists of any ethnicity or culture. It can be emotionally fulfilling, to say nothing of professionally helpful, to align ourselves with others who are who we are, who do what we do. But not all the time; that's a ghetto.

Besides, we have many adjectives to describe us; where would it end? Without denying any part of how I identify myself in the world, for instance, it would nevertheless be ridiculous to ghettoize myself artistically as a mid-career Italian-American lesbian feminist encaustic artist.

I've come to this point of view over time: The more narrowly we define ourselves, the narrower our opportunities will be.

So you can count on me to write about art made with all of all kinds of materials--and to discuss the materials--but without defining the artist by the medium, as much as it is possible do so.

Over to You
Do/did you define your art (or your artist self) with an adjective? Do you you struggle with the "adjective" issue? How do you deal with it? Do you feel you've ever been eliminated, overlooked, or dismissed because of the adjective rather than the work? Do you think you may have limited your own opportunities for grants or exhibitions because of the way you define your art? Or, has it helped you?



"Stripes/Solids" at Paula Cooper Gallery

What you see when you walk in:
Sherrie Levine's Untitled (Broad Stripe:6), 1985, casein and wax on mahogany, 24 x 20 inches, with Ellsworth Kelly's Green Panel in the distance

With an economy of words, the description of Stripes/Solids on the Paula Cooper Gallery website says simply: "The works in this show, dating from 1962 to 2008, embody a clarity and resolution of line, color and form through simple gestures."
I would add that there's a strong sense of materiality here, from the wax in Sherrie Levine's Untitled (Broad Stripe: 6), which you see when you walk in, to Brice Marden's wax and oil monochromes, to Jan J. Schoonhoven's stacked cardboard with the corrugated edges forming the surface structure, to Rudolf Stingel's enormous styrofoam relief. There's also an unexpected river of blue and green that runs through the gallery. .

We're going to tour the large main gallery and then peek into the smaller front room that faces the street. To orient you, the Dan Walsh painting, below, is on the other side of the wall from Levine's. Stripes/Solids is up through October 31..

Dan Walsh, Gray Field, 2008, acrylic on canvas, 55 x 90 inches; Brice Marden, Trade Painting 2, 1974-64, beeswax and pigment on canvas, two panels overall 50 x 30 inches

Marden's painting; Robert Mangold, Brown Ellipse/Gray Green Frame, 1988-89, acrylic and pencil on canvas, two panels overall 74.5 x 137.75 inches

Mangold's painting; Rudolf Stingel, Untitled, 1999, carved styrofoam, 120 x 192 x 4 inches; Jan J. Schoonhoven, R 77-3, 1977, corrugated cardboard on wood

Stingel's sculpture; Ellsworth Kelly, Green Panel, 1980, oil on canvas, 72 x 88 inches

Kelly's painting; work by Anne Truitt and Josef Albers, described below
Below: Truitt's Breeze, 1978, acrylic on wood, 60.24 x 5.5 x 4 inches; Albers's Study to Homage to the Square: Vernal, 1978, oil on masonite, 17 7/87 x 17 7/8
(Barely visible in the front gallery: a painting by Agnes Martin )

In the street-facing front gallery: Agnes Martin, Untitled #10, 1994, acrylic and graphite on canvas, 60 1/8 x 60 1/8. (Even here the work is barely visible.)

Below, on the wall opposite Martin: John McLaughlin, #8, 1966, oil on canvas, 40 x 60 inches

In this museum-quality exhibition, with one work per artist, the spare installation provides an opportunity to immerse yourself in each work while finding yourself in the middle of visual conversations between the geometric elements. It turns out there's a lot going on with these "simple gestures." As a title, Stripes/Solids is something of an understatement.


Greenbaum and Green at D'Amelio Terras

Installation view: Joanne Greenbaum at D'Amelio Terras
Joanne Greenbaum's paintings hit me right in the solar plexus. Sure, I took them in with my eyes first, but their demanding materiality, almost Day-Glo palette, and agressive compositions produced a visceral response. These are not paintings you "like." You either love them or hate them. I happen to love them for all the reasons just noted. Plus Greenbaum handles paint like nobody's business.

Moving around the gallery, above: all paintings are 2009, oil and acrylic on canvas, 80 x 78 inches
Two more, below


A surprise for me was the work of Elliott Green in the smaller gallery. These easel-size paintings, lyrical and poetic, were a perfect fit for the space. There's a narrative in there, I think, but I was content to go with the flow of a purely visual experience.
Both shows are up at D'Amelio Terras through October 31.
Installation view: Elliott Green at D'Amelio Terras
Below, Pudding Shadows, 2009, oil on linen, 18 x 24 inches



Marketing Mondays: How Dealers Are Considering Artists Now, Part 2

“Man, it’s hard out there now.”
—Kathryn Markel, principal, Kathryn Markel Fine Art, New York City

“Be positive despite rejections, and always let dealers know you appreciate the time they have taken to view your work.” —Gregory Lind, principal of Gregory Lind Gallery, San Francisco
"A rejection is for now, not forever."
—Hope Turner, Arden Gallery, Boston
Do your homework. Keep networking. Galleries are split between those that look at unsolicited packages and those that don’t. Best advice here: Read the gallery’s submission guidelines. What’s equally relevant now: Understand that times are as tough for the dealer as they are for the artist. Keep working. Don’t give up. .

Q: Do you look at the unsolicited j-pegs or hard-copy packages artists e-mail to you? Have you ever responded favorably?
. Hope Turner:
. Melanee Cooper: “I always look.” She breaks down her response this way: “One third of the artists who send in work are extremely talented but don’t quite fit in with the esthetic; one-third are just not right for the gallery; one third are not of the quality we're looking for." Yes, there has been an occasional positive response: “When you see it, you know it.”
. Midwest Dealer: “I do look but I almost never respond favorably. I try not to be annoyed by hard-copy packages, since it says on the website not to send them, but I understand that artists are trying really, really hard [to find gallery representation].”
. Kathryn Markel: “Yes, but I prefer a [link to a] good website, with current work.”
. Benjamin Tischer: “We do look at everything, though not in a timely manner. If the work looks interesting, I usually send a note that I would like to be kept on their mailing list. As of now, no unsolicited work has made it into the gallery, but there are two artists I am watching develop.”
. Valerie McKenzie: “Yes. While most of these packages and e-mails show work that is not appropriate for the gallery, here and there I have received packages that made sense and looked strong—usually because they were from someone who was a frequent visitor to the gallery and knew what type of work we show, or who was a referral from someone I know. Once in a while I have worked with some of these artists.
. Nancy Toomey: “I rarely look at a package unless [the artist] has been referred. My director looks at the unsolicited emails. If he likes something, he passes it on to me, but that is quite rare.
. Chelsea Dealer B: “I look quickly, but very, very rarely respond at all, favorably or otherwise. It’s stated on our website that we’re not currently looking,” said
. Leigh Conner: "No."

Q: What one piece of advice would you offer artists who are looking for representation now?
. Chelsea Dealer B:
"Figure out which galleries are most likely to want to work with you and then network your way in through the artists, curators, collectors that gallery trusts”
. Benjamin Tischer:Read the blogs [so you who’s showing where]. Take it slow. If you come to the gallery once and demand a studio visit, I am not likely to spend the time. But if you have come to five exhibitions and had actual conversations with me about the work on exhibition, pro or con, then I might want to see what you are working on.”
. Leigh Conner: Read Art/Work, Heather Darcy Bhandari and Jonathan Melber’s book on being a successful emerging artist.”
[I’d add Jackie Battenfield’s The Artist’s Guide and Edward Winkleman’s How to Start and Run a Commercial Gallery, different views of the same world, and I'd Rather Be In The Studio by Alyson B. Stanfield, a Midwest-based author and former curator. Taken together, these four books offer a current take on what to do and how to do it.]
. Kathryn Markel: “The most important thing for an artist is to show a consistent body of work. She must also do her homework to make sure the gallery she’s approaching has a similar sympathetic sensibility.”
. Chelsea Dealer A: “It is never easy being an artist, and it is difficult to get work exhibited and to sell it, especially now. Having said that, there are still hundreds of galleries in New York City. If an artist feels they have something unique to say, they should pursue that. Become familiar with they galleries and programs the like, and try to meet the artists and people who work there.”
. Hope Turner: “Understand that galleries see many presentations, and even if my response is favorable there may not be an opening for a show. Keep a gallery aware of your work by sending show cards of email images of a new work. I like to say that a rejection is for now, not forever.”
. Nancy Toomey: “Unless you sweat blood if you don’t create every day, consider a day job that will sustain you.”
. Midwest Dealer:Do your homework, the same as always. But understand that now the challenge is greater as some galleries scale back their investment in new artists while trying to conserve their resources. Get a day job if you must, but keep working in the studio, free of the pressure of having to pitch yourself. Many artists who are already well represented are doing this, just as their galleries scale back to find the next successful model for the art market.”

So what can we learn from all of this?

Much of the same advice applies now that has always applied: Visit the galleries. Network. Sending unsolicited material is a crapshoot (odds are increased if you read and follow each gallery’s submission protocols). Don’t allow yourself to be crushed by rejection. However, it was a surprise to me to see how many galleries do still look at and consider unsolicited material.

At least half of the responding galleries have been affected by the economy, which means they are downsizing in terms of space, work size or price point.
But I want to close with a dealer who wished to remain anonymous:

“At the same time that I am pulling back and tightening up, I am also more open to artists I would typically hesitate to show because there is less risk at the moment in taking a risk. If safe work is not selling, I might as well show work that really turns me on, even though it may not have commercial appeal. Going out on a limb may well help to invigorate the personality of the gallery.”

Ha! So while the reins have been tightened and protocols are in place there’s always room for a wild card. Like the lottery.


A Peek Into the Back Room

So call me intrusive, but I love to see what's in a gallery's back room. I happened upon two visual treats this way recently:

Beatriz Milhazes in the library at James Cohan Gallery
Clint Jukkula in the office at Jeff Bailey Gallery. Actually Jukkala's work was conceived as a small show, but it requires you to peek into the space--a voyeuristic act for which, in this instance, you are welcomed


Color-Time-Space at Lohin Geduld


Looking in: This view, through closed doors, will orient you to the tour below

Painters Joanne Freeman and Kim Uchiyama curated a sublime geometric show, Color-Time-Space, for the gallery that represents them, Lohin Geduld, on 25th Street. I'm writing about it on the last day of the show, and you're seeing it posted four days later, but not to worry: I'm going to show you around.

In making their selections, the curators noted the relationship between art and music. Rhythm, tone, and visual space (or musical time) are shared elements within the two disciplines. Seeing each perfectly chosen piece initially, I wasn't sure why the premise was necessary. Each work does indeed have a visual musicality, but the visual relationships between the works are substance enough.

Yet as I think about the installation, I can see how well orchestrated it is. Flat, saturated color is a feature of each painting, amplified and echoed in a kind of high-volume harmony in relation to the others. More persuasively, each work has a percussive rhythm in its repeated geometry--rectilinear, angular, banded, curvilinear, pah pah pah, pah pah--a polyrhythmic syncopation as the angles and curves pulse and snap.

Starting with the view through the window, above, we're going to swing to the right: .

On the wall facing the door: Thornton Willis, Blue Sky with Lattice, 2008 (first seen in a solo at the Elizabeth Harris Gallery earlier this year)
On the right wall: Joanne Freeman, Bent, 2009; Gary Petersen, Wish You Well; Kevin Wixted, Flowering Tree, 2009

Clockwise from above: Better views of Freeman; Uchiyama's Untitled, 2009, which you glimpsed in the doorway, top, and Petersen

Swinging back to the wall facing the door: Julie Gross, Trema Disc, 2005, and a glimpse of Stephen Westfall's My Beautiful Laundrette

Arc over to the left: Jennifer Riley, Modernissimo, 2009; Yvonne Thomas, Untitled, 1963; Stephen Westfall's, My Beautiful Laundrette, 2009

In the smaller back gallery: full view of Westfall's painting; foreground, Laurie Fendrich, Don't You Dare, 2007

James Biederman, Ben LaRocco and Kazimira Rachfal were also in the show. You can see images of their work on the gallery website. (Rachfal, a lovely surprise.) A second part of this curatorial effort took place at the Janet Kurnatowski Gallery in Brooklyn.
On the sidebar of this blog, right, you might want to try out the new "Search This Blog" feature. I've written previously about a number of the painters in this show. Type in any one of these names for more about them: Joanne Freeman, Julie Gross, Ben LaRocco, Gary Petersen, Jennifer Riley, Stephen Westfall, Thornton Willis, Kevin Wixted.



Marketing Mondays: How Dealers Are Considering Artists Now, Part 1

"We're not taking on as many new artists. We feel responsible to the artists we represent."
--Melanee Cooper, owner and director, Melanee Cooper Gallery, Chicago

While the Dow has begun to edge up and there seem to be a few more red dots in the galleries, the art world is still reeling from the recession that began 13 months ago. Gallery closings and relocations continue, and many artists who once had representation now do not.
I posed five questions to 40 art dealers around the country—half from New York City, and half from elsewhere. The 12 responses I received, representing that geography in about the same proportion, are not enough to provide a statistically accurate current picture, but anecdotally they create a good sketch of how dealers are considering artists now, particularly because the responses are of a piece with informal conversations I’ve had with dealers in Chelsea and elsewhere.
The Respondents
Leigh Conner, principal,
Connor Contemporary, Washington, D.C.
Melanee Cooper, principal,
Melanee Cooper Gallery, Chicago
Julian Jackson and Rene Lynch, principals,
Metaphor Contemporary Art, Brooklyn
Gregory Lind, principal,
Gregory Lind Gallery, San Francisco
Kathryn Markel, principal,
Kathryn Markel Fine Arts, Chelsea
Valerie McKenzie, principal, McKenzie Fine Art, Chelsea
Benjamin Tischer, principal,
Invisible-Exports, Lower East Side
Nancy Toomey,
Toomey Tourell Fine Art, San Francisco
Hope Turner, owner,
Arden Gallery, Boston
Chelsea Dealer A, who asked to remain anonymous
Chelsea Dealer B, who asked to remain anonymous
Midwest Dealer, who asked to remain anonymous

What’s new in this economy
While some dealers are continuing as before, at least 50 percent of our respondents—and by extension, I’d guess a similar percentage of dealers nationwide—are retrenching in some way. As they take fewer chances, there are fewer spots for new artists. Newly minted MFAs, not so long ago the darlings of the dealers, are now more of a liability because they have no experience working with a gallery.
That makes the tried-and-true advice more important then ever: Show regularly—including in non-profits and alternative spaces—so that your work is visible. Network, network, network so that you’re in the loop. Have an online presence. Those unsolicited packages you send out with such hope have a slim chance of hitting their mark—but the odds are increased if you’re doing all of the above
Q: Has the current economy changed the way you consider artists for your gallery?
The responses are almost evently split.

. Kathryn Markel:Not yet.”
. Chelsea Dealer A said the same thing, adding, "But I am scrutinizing each piece that comes through the gallery door, asking, ‘Is this something really special?’”
. Gregory Lind: “The current challenge has not changed the way I consider my artists. I either love the work and feel the artists should be exhibited and eventually become part of the gallery program or not.”
. Julian Jackson and Rene Lynch: “We continue to curate the gallery with the same criteria we have used from the beginning. The economy has not changed our focus.”
. Valerie McKenzie: “Not really. The current economy can’t last forever.”
. Leigh Conner matches and ups McKenzie’s optimism: “The economy has not changed the way we consider artists for your program. As a gallery we are always looking to the future—five, ten years down the road.”
. Chelsea Dealer B: “I’m being much more careful in thinking about whether I can actually sell an artist’s work before considering working with them.”
. Nancy Toomey: “I guess I would have to say that I’m more interested in scheduling exhibitions for artists who already have a track record, and I’ve also considered exhibitions that have work at lower price points.”
. Midwest Dealer: “I’m less inclined to take on new artists who will require a good deal of resources. Mostly this means shipping. So smaller works, smaller shows are more likely to happen. I’d rather show in a conservative number and scale and sell the larger works via jpegs while the actual works stay in the artists’ studio.”
. Hope Turner: “We have decided to do have more two-person shows. The featured artist is shown in the front room and in the window facing the street. A second show is mounted in the middle room, which is a smaller space; this show may feature a new artist or one we do not show in regular rotation.”
. Melanee Cooper: "Artists are dropping off and picking up, because we can't bear the shipping costs right now. We're being more careful with our advertising budget. We’re not taking on as many new artists. We feel responsible to the artists we represent.” (“That said,” she adds, “I’m always looking for the right artist.”)

Q: Even though you may not be actively seeking artists for your gallery, you always have your eye out for new talent. Where might you look for and where you have found artists to exhibit?
The number-one way they find artists: recommendations and referrals. If you haven't been networking, this should noodge you into doing so. Art fairs are also up there on their list. This may seem unfair if you're trying to get your foot in the gallery door, since artists shown at those art fairs are already in someone's gallery--but not all of the exhibiting galleries are big-city venues.
. Chelsea Dealer B: Recommendations from artists I’m currently working with are the number-one source of new considerations. After that, artists I’ve read about who are getting serious attention. After that, artists I meet socially.”
. Nancy Toomey:Referrals from artists or collectors I respect, art fairs, picking up artists coming out of art school (in my case, often from the San Francisco Art Institute).”
. Midwest Dealer: “The order has changed recently: One, recommendations from other artists who know me, my program, and the artist they are recommending; two, discovery as I travel to art fairs and, sometimes, other galleries; three, unsolicited submissions, about one in a million.
. Chelsea Dealer A: “It’s now almost always by referral from another artist or gallery. If I see someone’s work in a group show (gallery or non-profit) who is not represented, I might pursue a studio visit.”
. Gregory Lind: “One, seeing an artist’s work exhibited at a gallery or sometimes at an art fair; two, through one of my artists or other artists I know; three, although seldom, receiving a submission per email or packet.” He also admits to coming across the occasional artist while navigating the net.
. Valerie McKenzie: “I listen to referrals from people I trust, keep my eyes open when I look at group shows and go through art fairs, and sometimes just seize an opportunity when it comes my way.”
. Hope Turner: “We are always looking for new talent. This includes scouting at art fairs, ads in art magazines, and recommendations by gallery artists.”
. Leigh Conner has these priorities: “Visiting alternative spaces to see what is on the edge of their discourse; watching an artist over time; referrals.”
. Benjamin Tischer: “I would say that 75%of the people we have shown in the gallery, even in group shows, are friends, or friends of friends. While this comes off as nepotistic, the art world is ultimately very small, first and foremost a community.” (Tischer, a model of optimism, opened his gallery in the middle of the recession.)
. Kathryn Markel gets the last word here: “I always look. I love to look. And I always look at unsolicited e-mails, the web, everything.”
Q: Many artists think that an invitation to join a gallery happens in a snap. What does it take for an artist to be invited to join your roster?
Typically, time is the main ingredient, followed by a positive client response to the work.
. Melanee Cooper: “Every gallery runs differently. We’re looking for a response from our clients, and then we go from there.”
. Kathryn Markel: “I work with a lot of artists, but don’t necessarily give all of them exhibitions. I’ll just take in the work of a new artist and try it out on my clients. I like to live with the work for a while and see how I feel after the initial response.”
. Nancy Toomey: “Let me try to market the work to my collectors (three to six months) and then possibly a two-person show. That can take up to a year.”
. Hope Turner: “Shows are usually scheduled one year in advance, so an invitation to join the gallery is not immediate.”
. Chelsea Dealer B: "It can take years. We will sometimes work an artist into a group exhibition to learn how well we talk about their work, how well we work together, how much interest there is among our collectors."
. Valerie McKenzie: “It actually can happen in a snap, but rarely. It’s like any other relationship: You have to feel mutual respect and trust. I have to feel that the new artist isn’t just another version of an artist I already show, but someone who will add depth and breadth to the program. And I have certain interests and points of view that I want to maintain.”
. Benjamin Tischer: “If a gallery is including an artist on their permanent roster, the gallery should be able to sell enough of the work for that artist, or at the very least believe they will be able to do so in the future. It’s a long-term commitment.”
. Gregory Lind: “I need to have a strong feeling for the work. I also need to know that the artist and individual I am dealing with seems mature, reliable, and reasonable in their expectations and has some sort of perspective about what they want from their practice and the gallery system of presenting their work. Many emerging artists have not had much, or any, experience working with a commercial gallery, and there is a learning curve for both them and the dealer.”
. Midwest Dealer: “Of course the work must be strong and individual. It can’t overlap or compete too much with artists already in the program. And I have to feel the artist is mature (not chronologically, but in their understanding of the art world) and professional. They need to understand I cannot be their sole source of income or career building.”
. Chelsea Dealer A: "It's the unique quality of the [artist's] work and how it fits into the gallery's program. It's evidence of consistent dedication to their work and career." But more than that, he points out, "Since the gallery is already working with a number of artists, there has to be room for someone new, and the dealer has to be able to dedicate the time and resources necessary to develop the artist's career."
. . . . . . . . . .
“The art world is ultimately very small, first and foremost a community. "
–Benjamin Tischer, a principal of Invisible-Exports, New York City, explaining why referrals and networking drive so many dealers’ choices

Part 2 will appear next Monday


Instant Karma

This 34-second video is the best example of karma you're likely to see in a while. Listen for the screeching of tires. Go granny.


WTF? AE=MM@15'

Get up from your computer and stand about 15 feet away from the screen. Albert Einstein will change before your eyes into . . . .well, you'll just have to back away from your computer to see. (If you're looking at this on a Blackberry, hold it at arm's length and squint.)
It's back to more serious blogging on Monday with Part 1 of a two-parter on How Dealers Are Considering Artists Now.

Image (and neat trick) from the Internet