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7.27.2011

Send, Send, Send . . .


Send Me to Miami!

And get a print (5 left)


Updated 11.21.11

It's time for my annual  Miami Fundraiser. As I have done for the past five years, I'll be reporting on all the fairs, from the international behemoth at the Convention Center in Miami Beach, Art Basel Miami, to the smallest, Aqua Art, a gem of a venue down Collins Avenue, to all the fairs across the bay in Miami proper. Each year's posts number 20 or more, with venue-by-venue reporting, along with some local color and an irreverent roundup.

Your financial support will help me pay for the hotel, the flight, travel surcharges, taxis to and from the airports; taxis back and forth across the causeway (because waiting for those free shuttles can cost hours of viewing time); food and non-alcoholic beverages (really, just food; I don't drink); and incidentals. I'll be there for five days. And when I get back, there's two solid weeks of editing pics, Photoshopping images, writing and posting, venue by venue, right through Hanukkah and up through Christmas. So I'm not doing any income-producing work the entire month of December.

This is not send-me-money-and-get-nothing-in-return request. I offer the most comprehensive coverage of the Miami art fairs. Like NPR, it's freely accessible, but somebody has to pay for it. Until last year, it was me. Then you, the good readers of this blog, stepped in and helped underwrite the trip.

If you have enjoyed my posts in the past, your donation of $20 will help me cover the fairs again this year. The PayPal Donate button is at right. And if you've been reading and haven't contributed to my fund before, please take a moment to be a benefactor. Of course, it doesn't have to be $20. It could be less. Or more.

To tempt you to contribute more: Donate $100 and select a unique digital print from my Silk Trail series. I initially selected and posted 36 prints; eight remain as of November 1. Each print is 11 x 8.5 inches, printed on archival Epson paper with a combination or archival and office inks. These are all from 2010, made intermittently when the office printer was running low on ink. (I talk a bit about them and the process here.)  Using PayPal, link on sidebar opposite, allows you to write me a message; use it to indicate the print you'd like and a second choice--I'll send them out in the order in which I receive the donations--and, this is important, include your mailing address. I'll cover postage, sending out each print in a sturdy cardboard mailing envelope. 

This is a limited offer (with the blessing of the galleries that sell these prints from their flat files for a higher price). Scroll down for a look at your choices. The images below are small-version scans of the actual prints; they exist for my archive of the ongoing series. Click them individually to see them slightly larger.
 Above:  Silk Trail 5 
 Above:  Silk Trail 63  
 Above:  Silk Trail 146 
 Above:  Silk Trail 173 
 Above:  Silk Trail 197 

Questions? Post them in the Comments section below.

Thank you in advance for sending me to Miami.

For those of you viewing this post via subscription or RSS feed, please click onto my blog for the PayPal link on the sidebar.

7.25.2011

Marketing Mondays: You Want to Be in an Art Fair?


If you follow this blog you know that I have been covering the Miami art fairs every December for the past six years. I also write, in a much less exhaustive way, about the fairs in New York during Armory Week in March.

I like art fairs, both as a visitor to them and as an artist whose work is sometimes shown in them. Looking at the experience from both sides, I can say that while you might think there are only advantages to showing, that’s not always the case. Let's consider some pros and cons.

 View of the Scope Art Fair in Miami, 2010


Yippee, You’re Getting Taken to a Fair
Unless you have a particularly generous dealer, your work is going to the fair. You will have to get there on your own and pay your own way. For that reason, many artists whose work is at the fair don't get there themselves.

Pros
. Most fairs are international, so a lot of people see your work—people who might not see it otherwise. This is particularly true if you show in a gallery located in a small city. The smaller galleries know this too, which is why they submit to the time, energy and expense of applying to and possibly participating in a fair
. Collectors from around the world see, and might acquire, your work
. Curators see your work in an international context
. Dealers see it too. Some attend specifically to scout out new talent for their galleries. Among exhibiting dealers, arrangements are often brokered. Neighboring exhibitors get to talking and before you know it, an artist from Gallery Y is scheduled to show at Gallery Z, and vice versa
. When your work is taken regularly to the fairs, collectors, curators and dealers—all of whom make the rounds years after year—keep an eye out for artists whose work they have seen and liked. You may not be aware of it, but someone may be following your work

Cons
. Will the gallery feature your work with fabulous sight lines and lots of space around it, or will it be relegated to a small corner over by the closet? You don’t want to get there only to find that you’re in group exhibition with the packing materials
. Your gallery has to pick its fair carefully. It’s not easy to get into the top fairs, so some dealers will settle for less than the best. There is a hierarchy, and crummy fairs drag even the best galleries and artists down; the gallery can end up looking bad and so can you
. In a good fair it’s hard to stand out because there’s a lot of good work vying for a viewer's attention
. Because it’s hard to stand out, your work may not engender interest on the part of fairgoers—never mind selling, just getting noticed. And if your work is overlooked, a dealer may end up feeling less than enthusiastic about continuing to work with you
. Comparisons are made: Which galleries had the best booths, which artists sold well, whose work sold for the lowest (or highest) prices, whose work has flown out of the booth, whose hasn’t sold at all?  
. If you decide to go, the trip can be costly. In Miami, for instance, the hotels jack up their prices during fair week and the venues are all over the map, which means a lot of travel in free shuttles (which are unreliable) in city buses (which don't go to all the places you need to go) and in taxis (which are expensive as you cross back and forth over the causeways separating Miami Beach from Miami proper). In New York City, hotel rooms are always costly, though public transportation is reliable and convenient (usually). 
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Do a Little Homework
If you can, go visit a few art fairs. Find a cheap flight. Crash with a friend, or share a low-cost hotel room with a couple of buddies. (There are a few hostels in Manhattan, believe it or not, and rooms can be very cheap, but be prepared to relax your standards for privacy and cleanliness. Google "Hostels, New York City" for venues in Chelsea and Midtown.) Eat at the least expensive restaurants and avoid the pricy drinks.

Make  the rounds of the fairs to see what they’re like. There's a hierarchy of venues within each event (what you see and what you hear from other people are good indicators), get a sense of who’s showing with whom. See what the artist-run fairs look like. Talk with people. Lunch is the great leveler, particularly when you share tables or benches at the various venues. You rub elbows with collectors—give them your card—and they get to meet someone who could be, might be, just may be the next big star in the art world. In Miami, go visit the private collections (Rubell, Margulies, Cisneros Fontanals); this is work that doesn't go over the sofa, and entry is typically free. Find or gather a group for dinner. In other words, reconnoiter but have fun. Interesting connections can happen when people are relaxed.

But it doesn't have to be Basel/Miami in December or Armory Week in New York City. There are plenty of art fairs around the country: The Affordable Art Fair in Los Angeles as well as Manhattan a couple of times a year;  Art Chicago and its satellite fairs; Art Santa Fe; The SOFA shows in various cities. There are plenty of international fairs, too. Click here for a list. All of them will give you a sense of where you, or you and your dealer, wish to be involved, what to consider, and what to expect. 

Wonder why I'm thinking about art fairs now? Because I just reserved for Miami in December. I've got my second annual Send-Me-to-Miami campaign coming up. And on Wednesday I'll have an offer you can't refuse.

7.21.2011

Critical Mass., Part I

Before this series: The Chain Letter Show


Jennifer Riley, A Bettor's Dream, 2011, oil on canvas, at Carroll and Sons Gallery, Boston


BOSTON--If someone hasn’t come up with Critical Mass. as the name for a blog or magazine about art in Massachusetts, they should. I’m going to use it for several blog posts about the art I'm seeing in the state this summer. I'll have more for you periodically as the season progresses.
 
Jennifer Riley at Carroll and Sons
Jennifer Riley fractures space in her paintings. The geometric abstraction for which she is known—crystalline structures with a landscape sensibility—have evolved into big, graffiti-esque lines that swoop and curve up against the picture plane and then appear to recede into deeper space. Riley fills in the negative spaces so that they become positive, making them dance around and and through the linearity. Smaller pastel drawings at first appear to be channeling Joan Mitchell; up close you see they’re studies for the larger paintings, which nevertheless have a life and identify of their own.

Chromatically and compositionally, the show, A Bettor’s Dream, feels joyous, and Joseph Carroll’s cool, airy installation in light gray walls (which my photographs do not convey well) is a perfect antidote to the summer heat. Artist info here. The exhibition is up through through August 27.

Jennifer Riley, Fire-Fangled Feathers, 2011, oil on canvas, 90 x 66 inches

Installation shot: To the left as you enter the gallery

Below: A gallery image of Eye of the Beholder, 2011, oil on canvas

Below, as you look back toward the entrance


In the gallery's Corner Office Gallery, Damian Hoar de Galvan shows works on paper and sculptures made of scrap materials, both small and the large one you see here. The gallery’s installations shots are great. Check them out, but better still, see the show, I Wish I Had Something to Say. (You’ll find that the artist is visually quite talkative.) Artist info here. The exhibition is up through July 30.

Damien Hoar de Galvan installation view


Nancy Natale at Arden Gallery 
If Nancy Natale is not known to the New York art world she should be. Her small solo show at Arden Gallery on Newbury Street is from a series of recent works called Running Stitch. There’s no thread in these constructed paintings, however. Composed of castoff book parts, rubber strips, metal and other materials, they have been laid out and tacked into assemblages that are equal parts formal beauty and polyrhythmic muscle. If I wanted to be flip I would say that Natale’s work is the love child of Lee Bontecou and El Anatsui. But that would be unfair to an artist who has forged a vision that is quite her own. Artist info here. The exhibition is up through July 30.

Installation view with Some Fell Among the Thorns and Schematic (with sculptures by Anne Lilly)

Full-on view of Some Fell Among the Thorns, 2010, mixed media, 24 x 42 inches

Installation view with Schematic, 2011, and Brought to Tears, 2010, both mixed media

These two paintings were installed on an L-shaped wall. My photographs were not good enough to post, so I've pulled these images from the gallery website

Above: Cinch, 2011, mixed media, 30 x 40 inches
Below: Passing Days, 2011, mixed media, 24 x 24 inches


Critical Mass. will continue sporatically throught the summer. In the next installment, on August 3, we'll go to the Cape Cod Art Museum in Dennis, Mass.

7.18.2011

Marketing Mondays: News from L.A.

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Recent email brought in two eye-opening pieces of information about Los Angeles-area venues. Both relate to Marketing Mondays issues we've discussed in the past. Naturally I've turned them into a post.

Hold the loan!
Or at least read the results of Jane Chafin's survey first
Image from Offramp Gallery blog

1. The MFA Revisited
MFA: Is It Necessary?, a recent post by Jane Chafin on her Offramp Gallery Blog is must reading. It's the result of an informal survey of some 300 artists and Chafin's own research. The chart above gives you the quick story, but read the whole thing.
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Chafin is the director of a gallery that is in a private home (her own) in Pasadena. The gallery's slogan: "Contemporary art in an historic house." You can see the gallery here and learn more about it here. 

Here's Chafin's take on the MFA:  "A degree is not something I look for when selecting artists for Offramp Gallery. The bottom line is always the work. I look for work that's honest, creative, original, skillfully executed and intensely visual. It's supposed to be VISUAL art after all."
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 I don't know Jane Chafin, but I like how she thinks (I've written about the MFA here) and I admire her entrepreneurial spirit.

2. Pay to Show Revisited
If you read this blog regularly, you know that I am not a fan of pay-to-show galleries. There’s no incentive for the owners to actually sell your work, because in paying upfront to exhibit (a fee that can run in the thousands) you—and any number of other artists showing that month—have already paid the gallery’s rent and bills. 
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Now someone has sent me a link to a different kind of pay to show: the commercial gallery that won’t look at your submission without an enclosed check. Should you check the Artist Submissions page of Ace Gallery in Los Angeles—and you can do so here—you will find this sentence in the fourth paragraph: “A fee of $60 is required for all submissions.”

This is not  to enter a juried show (though $60 would be pretty steep), but simply to get your materials past the conceptual velvet rope. Did I mention this is a commercial gallery?

Image from the Internet

Trying to see this $60 fee from the gallery’s point of view, I can imagine the director saying, “We’re inundated with solicitations. This will limit the number of people submitting.” Or, "I have to pay an extra day’s salary to an assistant to go through these packages, so I’m passing on the cost to the artists.”  But this a commercial gallery that takes a presumed 50 percent of the sale price of art--a commission that includes things like gallery development, of which finding artists would be one.
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The Ace Gallery is a privately held business; the owner and director can run it the way they choose. But nickel and diming artists, many of whom spend a lifetime working for and living on chump change, seems grossly inappropriate. And when you see  the gallery's roster of established artists, you know they didn't come to the gallery through unsolicited submissions. So wouldn't it just be more honest to say, "The gallery is not considering unsolicited submissions at this time." 
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Sixty dollars can buy food, or paint, or pay for a couple of entry fees where the artist has an actual chance of being included. Is Ace doing so badly that it needs to be funded by artists?
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Has anyone else come across such a request from another venue? Or does Ace Gallery hold a singular card in the art world?

7.16.2011

Final Update: Chain Letter Delivered

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Drop-off day for Chain Letter here
Update from Samson Gallery here
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BOSTON--The Chain Letter show at Samson Gallery is a big, messy, vibrant, crazy-salad of an installation with some surprise-guest artwork and some is-it-art vignettes. Well, here, let gallery owner Camilo Alvarez,  describe it:  "It's awesome, yes?" Yes, indeed. The intrepid dealer installed for two days straight, ultimately placing some 1100 paintings, sculptures and works on paper in two spaces--ground floor and basement. The ground floor contained Todd Pavlisko's solo show, which was just about camouflaged by the art around it.
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I arrived at 5:00 p.m.expecting an around-the-block line, like at the Sideshow art-a-palooza in Brooklyn this past winter. But no. People came and went freely. While the gallery was always full, there was no queue to get in, and it was never so crowded you couldn't move. Let's take a look.

This wrapped package and the mail on the floor provide the perfect visual metaphor for the Chain Letter show. But wait. Is it an installation or actually, you know, mail? I don't know


The view from the Thayer Street walkway. The weather was sunny and a balmy 78 degrees. Lots of people were out

The doorway in is just to my left. We're going to start here and work our way down the long wall in a space that is about twice as long as it is wide

Larger paintings were just propped against the wall. The big drawback for me is that there were no names. I don't know many Boston artists, so I can't identify the work. But I suspect that even the artists who know one another couldn't identify the makers of most of these works


More . . .


And more. The big installation in the center is Todd Pavlisko's solo show--or at least the show that was a solo until a few days ago


Working our way down the long wall . . .


And taking a quick pivot to look at the opposite wall


In the back room


More back room. Several artists mentioned that the piece on the weight bench, detail below, was sent in by Richard Serra--could be; it looks like a Serra--and that Kiki Smith had a piece downstairs. I never did identify which might have been hers

The Serra, on the bench. Maybe



Best look in the show: Erica Aubin, emerging artist


Heading down the stairs. I walked these same stairs on Wednesday when the walls were almost empty


Overheard as I was standing by this wall: "All of these artists are looking for gallery representation. Think about it."

More . . .

. . .With the installation spillling onto the floor, below



I like that one artist put up a Post-It with his name: Corey Artis (I think that's what it said). Corey: Next time, print it


One more look downstairs . . .

. . . before we climb back up. The light at the far end of the gallery is where we came in


Another view of the crowd, with a closeup of a small sculpture--about a handspan wide--below




Visitors spilling back out onto the walkway . . .

and from there onto pedestrian Thayer Street


If you visit Boston, the South End galleries are concentrated at 450 and 460 Harrison Avenue--right and left here--which actually open onto Thayer Street, with Harrison Avenue in the distance. There's free parking for visitors in several adjacent lots as well as on the street, though there's a two-hour limit for street parking.

Since I'm in Massachusetts for the summer, I'll take you to a few more galleries over the next few weeks.

7.13.2011

Update: The Chain Letter Show

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Scroll down to the bottom for an update and picture for 7.14.11
Final Update, a view of the show here
Update from Samson Gallery here

BOSTON--Today was drop-off day for the Chain Letter show here. The hosting gallery: Samson Projects at 450 Harrison Avenue in the South End. Here's a captioned visual report:

The gallery was due to open at noon. At 11:45, artists were already making their way with wrapped packages


Samson Projects

The beginning of the line

At 11:48 the doors opened

The first artists entered

. . . and kept entering

. . . and kept entering

. . . and kept entering

. . . and . . .

. . . and . . .

There was a lull so I asked artist and frame maker Stephen Halley to show us what he was going to put in


Then the stream picked up, this time with kids who seemed eager to participate

. . . and . . .

. . . and . . .

All of these arrivals came in just under 10 minutes


You notice you haven't seen anyone exiting. In that first 10 minutes the only movement was in.  That's because most of the artists went downstairs to hang their own work. I left to go jury a show across the way and returned at 4:45 to see what had transpired.

4:45 p.m. That's Camilo Alvarez, owner of Samson Projects, in the plaid shorts, with Anthony Greaney, owner of the neighboring gallery that bears his name 

"There's about 700 pieces up here," said Alvarez, "and about another 400 downstairs. It seemed like a conservative estimate. In addition to the artists streaming in all day, I'm told FedEx and UPS had made multiple deliveries. Alvarez seemed surprisingly calm, given that the show will open on Saturday at 5:00 p.m. (until 8:00)

Packages in the back room. You walk through the back room to get to the stairs . . .

. . . which take you to the lower level . . .

. . . where artists had been installing their own work. The work here and below is on one long wall


This is a portion of the opposite wall

More

And still more

For this view I walked way to the back and turned around to shoot where I had been. I expect the walls in the hallway, already filling, will be completely covered

Too late. It was just before 6:00 pm when I took this photo. The gallery was already closed.

The show will be installed by Saturday, and I understand that artists will be allowed to retrieve their work after the opening--which would then effectively make it a closing. Nothing about this show makes sense. I guess that's part of the point of it.

Update 7.14.11:
This Photo and report in the caption comes from Linda Cordner (thank you!) who has a studio in the same building as Samson Projects: 
"I took this photo through the front window. Looks like he [Camilo] got most of the room hung today--in a controlled chaos sort of way. Seems to me that this is just a way to create a big party at a gallery since it is one night only. I guess there's nothing wrong with that."

I can add that the large installation in the center of the gallery, with the image of Richard Pryor barely visible on the back wall, is by Todd Pavlisko, who has a solo show (with a little company) through July 16.