Marketing Mondays: "Where Can I Show?" Part 2

Where Can I Show? Part 1

  Darra Keeton painting in the dining room at Drawer 158, Tribeca
This two-part post addresses the queries posed by several readers along the lines of this question: “Is a Non-Traditional Setting a Respectable Place for My Work?”  Entrepreneurial spirit has led to many respectable opportunities, including artists’ co-op galleries and open studios. Last week we looked at building lobbies, architecture firms, libraries and DIY spaces. So, yes, there are respectable non-traditional settings. In this post we look at more options.

The By-Appointment or Apartment Gallery
Private dealers are not new. Some once had commercial space but now work out of their homes or a small office; others simply prefer not having to be at a gallery for set hours each day. But I’m not talking about them. By-appointment galleries are different, typically located in private homes, lofts or apartments and run by people who have other jobs but wish to exhibit work they’re passionate about. (Plus they get to live with the work.) 
. Andrea Callard and Karen Cantrell  maintain the by-appointment space, Drawer 158, in the Tribeca loft of one of the partners. I learned of it when my friends David Headley and Darra Keaton had a show there in 2009. In addition to the gallery, Callard and Cantrell have curated a show of Headley’s large-scale paintings for the Citicorp atrium at 153 East 53rd Street, up now and running through the end of February (pics and info in Part 1).

. Artist Chris Ashley runs Some Walls, a curatorial and writing project, out of his home in Oakland, California. International in scope, the project mounts six exhibitions a year accompanied with an essay by Ashley.

"I'm surprised there aren't more Some Walls in the world," says Ashley.  "The smaller-venue project can be likened to house concerts; that's something widely accepted in the music world.  The one thing I think this project needs to carry weight is that it has to be written about; that's why I write an essay for each exhibition."

Chelsea gallerist Zach Feuer started out with an apartment gallery while still an art student at Boston's Museum School. You may not be interested in a career as a gallerist, but the by-appointment or apartment gallery can be a way to show your work and that of a select group of colleagues, to create dialogue and community. Ashley again:  "There are many small things artists can do to participate and contribute. I feel that as long as they're done with integrity with a genuine focus on the art, that there is a real critical and conceptual stance, then showing with small projects can have critical authority and lasting meaning. That's really important for a serious artist." raises and answers some legal questions about apartment galleries; the article may be specific to the Windy City, but the issues raised are worth investigating if you're thinking about starting or showing in such a venue.
Over to you: Have you shown in a by-appointment gallery space? What was your experience?

By appointment
Above: David Headley paintings at Drawer 158, Tribeca

Below: Douglas Witmer sculptures Some Walls, located in the Oakland home of artist Chris Ashley
Photo from the Some Walls website

Flat Files
There are some terrific venues in this category. Three I can name off the top of my head are Pierogi in Willimsburg, Brooklyn, founded and run by Joe Amreihn, a practicing artist; Kentler International Drawing Space in Red Hook, Brooklyn, a non-profit exhibition space founded by artists Florence Neal and Scott Pfaffman, which has extensive flat files; and the Boston Drawing Project, administered and curated by Joseph Carroll within his Carroll and Sons Gallery in Boston’s South End (disclaimer: I have work in this file). Flatfile Galleries in Chicago had expanded to wallspace exhibitions before closing its doors in 2009 after nine years in business.

There are different criteria for being included in a gallery's flat file, but typically the roster of included artists is far larger than the number who will show on the gallery walls. Still, inclusion in the file can be a good way to be part of something. Work in these files is looked at by curators, consultants, collectors. Many of the works are inexpensive, which means that even artists can purchase work. Only a very small percentage of the artists in these files are given prominent positioning, so unless you do your own marketing, it’s hard to stand out among 500 other artists. This is where the great flat file in cyberspace—your website or blog—may help you draw attention to your work in the physical space of a gallery flat file.

Sometimes the work finds its way out of the files an onto the walls. Carroll has mounted a show of selections from the Drawing Project; Pierogi has a regular program and takes the work to art fairs as well (and to connect the dots, Pocket Utopia presented a show of work from the Pierogi Flat Files); Kentler had a curated show, Degrees of Density, that traveled to venues around the country.
Over to you: Who has work in a gallery flat file? What have your experiences been?

The exterior of Pierogi, Brooklyn, located in what was once, you guessed it, a dumpling factory. Internet photo

Below: Pierogi took part in the Seven fair in Miami in December. The large painting, foreground, is by Ati Maier

The Kentler Drawing Space organized Degrees of Density, a traveling show of work from its flat files, shown here at the Illges Gallery of Columbus State University, Columbus, Georgia. Photo from the gallery website

The space housing the flat files of the Boston Drawing Project, housed within Carroll and Sons Gallery, Boston

The Storage Locker Exhibition
Last week  reader Randall Anderson mentioned a number of venues in which he had shown "self-initiated" projects: an empty building (in which he illuminated his work with his automobile headlights), a public park in Toronto and, my favorite, Manhattan Mini Storage in Chelsea, right in the gallery district. Anderson's show took place from August 29 to September 26, 2009.  He sent interested viewers the lock combination so that they could visit at their convenience. 

Interestingly, I'd had several conversations in 2008, just after the economy crashed, with dealers who were considering alternatives to their bricks-and-mortar spaces. One was thinking about giving up his gallery space in favor of a cyber presence (several dealers have since done exactly this); the twist was that he would keep work in a nearby storage locker.  "My clients will think it's an adventure," he said.

I wonder: What would happen if several artists organized a "Storage Locker Show"--or a more ambitious "Art Fair"? 
Over to you: Has anyone else shown in a storage locker? If so, what advice would you offer to anyone thinking of doing the same?

Above and below: The site of Randall Anderson's storage locker show in Chelsea in 2009. Photos from Anderson's website

Curated Online Projects
I know of two online curatorial projects: Minus Space, focused on reductive work, and Geoform, on abstract geometric art. Both projects, international in scope, have a physical presence as well. Minus Space founders Matthew Deleget and Rossana Martinez have created an open-on-the-weekends (and by-appointment) gallery in Brooklyn.  Geoform's editor, Julie Karabenick, has curated shows in New York City and Philadelphia. Additionally, Karabenick has conducted extensive interviews, posted on the website, with many of the represented artists (disclaimer: I'm one of them). I have included the interview in a catalog of my work, and other artists have done the same.
Above: A page capture from the Geoform website
Below: composite image from Order(ed), a group show or Geoform artists curated by the site's founder and editor, Julie Karabenick, at Gallery Siano, Philadelphia, in 2008
 Geoform photos

Views of the physical Minus Space
Above: the Brooklyn gallery space, with work by Gilbert Hsaio, Karen Schifano and Michelle Grabner
Below: Founder Matthew Deleget with a selection of books by and about the Minus Space artists

With dedication and a huge commitment of time, you could create something similar to what any and all of the artists/entrepreneurs have done here.  Should you not wish to be so consumed, consider the occasional curated post on your blog. I’ve done that just for the pleasure of bringing together artists whose work I like under a thematic umbrella.  My Cloth? Not, from last year, is one such post. Spring Greens, posted at the Vernal Equinox, is another; and My New Best Friends is yet another. And, sure, I include my own work in the posts. Just recently Pam Farrell posted a curated post on Pink, the opening image of which is posted below.
Over to you. Who has work on an online curatorial project? Who's maintaining a blog that features curated posts?

Art blogs give you the opportunity to show your work, curate online exhibitions, or provide an online "catalog" to a bricks-and-mortar show--or even a tour of a show you're in, which I did recently with Plane Speaking. Above, the opener from Pam Farrell's curated post, Pink

Bottom line: You have options, lots of options, to show your work. And if you can't find something that's right for you, do it yourself. Additional comments and ideas welcome.

If you have found this or other Marketing Mondays posts useful, please consider supporting this blog with a donation. A PayPal Donate button is located on the Sidebar at right. Thanks.


annell4 said...

Thank you Joanne a great post!

Randall Anderson said...

Thanks Joanne! The Locker Project continues. The Mini-Storage Art Fair? I'm down for that - let's get those emails flying!

I enjoy working with galleries, and love the big white box, but within my own practice I've always maintained a balance where self-initiated projects act as ways to think through an idea without negotiating with anybody else. Simply, it's empowering to take control and find validation in the process.

Cheers and good luck to everyone flying confidently under the radar. Come in low, and enjoy your work.

SARAH said...

Any thoughts on selling/showing work in a more retail type shop? One that sells paintings alongside handmade jewelry, candles, etc.?
I'm just getting started putting stuff 'out there'.

Susan Schwalb said...

I have been in all the flat files you mentioned and shown in many alternative spaces. The downside is no one has insurance and I have found it impossible to get any myself (if anyone knows of affordable studio art insurance please let me know). All my experiences with Pierogi, and the Kentler were especially wonderful -at Pierogi work traveled to the Weatherspoon Art Gallery and they wound up purchasing work. The same thing happened with the Kentler during a traveling show I was in when curators from a museum in town bought my drawing for the collection. I like these spaces and alternative showing, it is often a nice balance to the commercial galleries that I show at. And your work is seen by another audience. These flatfiles are all juried by the director of the space and it isn't always easy to get into. I like the Boston Drawing Project but nothing ever sold for me in this venue. But the director is a peach. When I first started showing with Pierogi I was one of the older artists so I loved feeling hip and with it, so to speak. I am currently only showing with the Kentler and have even curated a show on silverpoint there which I was able to travel.

I have never found that showing outside of non-profit or commercial spaces do much for you. However it you are friends with someone who owns a retail business and they ask you to show well it depends on the situation whether to say yes. But it is not something for ones resume. But then it depends on where you live and what your opportunities are.

Note:So far the flat file projects mentioned like the artists to live near by.

Susan Schwalb said...

joanna could you fix the typo in my comment second paragraph from do to does. Thanks. s.

Joanne Mattera said...


No can do. Blogger is set up so that I can't go in and edit your comments. But your correction is noted in your addendum.


Stephanie Sachs said...

Randall I love your idea of the Locker Project. Very creative, outside the box and accessible.
Would sign up for the Mini Storgae Art Fair in a heartbeat.

Kate P. Miller said...

Tons of useful information in this blog, thanks Joanne.