About three weeks ago, I received an email from a Boston-based artist inviting me to participate in a "Chain Letter" group show at a Boston gallery. I was also asked to invite 10 artists I admire. They, in turn, would each ask 10 artist they admire. Here's the letter:
"Chain Letter" is a global group show wherein 10 artists have been invited to participate. Those 10 then invite 10 artists that they admire. Those 10 invite 10 more and so on. This cycle continues for 30 days. The result is an exponentially massive, artist-curated group show based entirely on admiration. We hope every admired artist on the planet will be included in "Chain Letter" this summer.
Sounds crazy but interesting. Crazy because an exponential number of artists will be involved. Interesting because I'm getting emails not just from Boston artists but from my New York peeps inviting me to participate--in a Boston show. I've posted the (sketchy) details below, leaving out the specifics because it is a chain letter, and the invitation is to pass in that way rather than on this blog:
1.The Protocol: Forward this invite to 10 artists you admire. Remember to change the names (in red) at the top.
2.Install and Opening: Works should be at the gallery on July 13th. The opening reception is on Saturday, July 16th from 5 to 8. Every participating venue around the world will have their opening on the same day as ours.
3.The De-install: All works will be returned or picked up.
*Please do not email your curator or venue. Everything you need to know is here. Trust in the chain letter. Viva simplicity. Finally, if one of your ten artists cannot participate, go ahead and invite another!.
Everyone has the same question: How can one gallery hold what is likely to be about 10,000 pieces of art?
Actually they have other questions, too: How long will the show run? How can so many pieces of art be registered and handled properly? Is there insurance? Is there a postcard announcement? Since the invitation comes with the request to "not email your curator or venue," I'm smelling someone's big, messy, conceptual art project. Still, I know the Boston dealer to be an honorable guy whose program consistently pushes the envelope. And, wow, what a great concept for a big, messy show!
To the artist who invited me, the Boston dealer confirms that the show is legit but offers no details. Then, breaking with the outlined protocol, I forward to him an email--see below in small type--that has been forward to me by a friend to whom it had been forwarded from the participating gallery in Los Angeles. (Don't you love it? A chain letter about a chain letter.) He responds with a, "Sounds good, Joanne." The reporter in me has more questions, but the artist is me is going with the flow.
Here's what I forwarded (I've left off the parts specific to the Los Angeles Gallery):
4. The invitation can be sent out up to the date of installation technically. 30 days is the loose structure, but everyone interested who wants to show just has to have there work there and installed by [the
5. If you cannot be there to install your own work, please make arrangements with a friend or the person who invited you, to drop off your work for you. The gallery will not be responsible for returning or sending works back.
6. If you get invited multiple times accept them both, keep inviting, let the chain weave and weave and weave and grow!
7. No hanging wall pieces. Leaning works will find a home. Hanging pieces are fine, but again no assistance in install is guaranteed.
8. Chain Letter is not reaching out or contacting people other than the original invites and what the gallery websites can provide. Its just too big to reach everyone1
9. We'd prefer no pedestals. You can bring them, but we can't guarantee the space for them or ideal installation scenarios. It will be very, very cozy!
10. No matter where you are, invite who you admire and encourage them to find the nearest location to get there work to and up.
11. The works will be labeled with your names. If someone inquires about purchasing your work, that will be dealt with on individual basis. No price list will be posted. Consignment details will vary by location. You can find out about consignment forms on day of install.
12. This email can only answer general questions and details relating to
13. The works will be a complete surprise the day of installation!
14. One piece per artist per location please. If you got invited to 2 different cities, then I suppose show in both! One work per city please.
15. You don't have to have 10 artists confirm to participate.
16. We can't advise you which venue to show at if you are invited in multiple cities, but the galleries are NOT PAYING for anything. But if it were me I'd go with simplicity and show up at the closest venue.
17. Chain Letter is very real and artist driven! .
So, here's what I'm going to do: Since I'm in Massachusetts for the summer, I'm going to drive into Boston on the appointed day (with a small painting to drop off, just in case) and report on what I see taking place. And I'm going to go to return for the opening to see how it all turns out.
Update B.R., an artist from