The walls are bare.
This will sound crazy, but it’s my favourite time in the life of the gallery.
It goes like this:
We plan for months. We attend every studio tour within a half-day’s drive, and we race through as many studios as we can before hitting the road again to get back the same day. We attend every guild event in the area possible. When we go to other galleries, we take note of artists we would like to speak to. We search the internet for local talent. I stalk artists on Instagram. Of course, we receive proposals from artists wanting to get involved, but we don’t want to assume, for each project, that we can just wait for people to find us. We’re relative newcomers to the gallery club, so we go out and introduce ourselves, see if people are interested in getting involved. For me, that’s pretty hard work. Feels like I’m asking them on a date, and the experience comes complete with all of the fear of rejection, or of making a fool of myself sort of emotions that accompany that sort of thing. We put a lot of effort into each collection we assemble.
Finally, we discover we have enough artists-and really talented ones at that-for a successful project, and the excitement really begins. I receive really lovely texts and emails with delightful images of work that is coming to my little gallery. In my mind, I’ve usually purchased about half of them before they even get here!
Sometimes, we know exactly what to expect. Robin Grindley, for example, is a prolific painter, and florals are a major theme for him. We quickly had six images, in classic Robin Grindley style, confirmed for Posy.
Other times, we have no clue what’s coming. Another artist participating in the same project, Cynthia Mackenzie, had been experimenting with a new way of working, and sent us some studies. We liked the rest of her work, but she had nothing else completed in the style in which she was proposing. It was a bit of a risk, but we felt her other work was strong enough that the risk would pay off. We kind of held our breath until those final images arrived, and are happy to say, our bet was good. Great, actually.
But the images, captivating though they are, never quite do the artworks justice. The real thing is always so much more impressive. And after all our planning, we’re finally going to receive them in person. They’re coming this week! We’ll hang the curtains over the front windows, to keep the curious, curious. And the art will be mine-all mine, for a few short days. Under Dale’s skillful instruction, out of a jumble of paintings will emerge an exhibit, which will be a work of art in its own right.
Truly, it will be. Dale has a natural ability with “hanging a show”. We’ve lost track of the number of artists and art collectors who have told us this. Many of them have said that they have never seen their work displayed so well. He often hears things like, “you’re the first curator who seems to understand how to show my art the way I see it myself”. Artists who have been doing the circuit for decades have been surprised to hear he hasn’t been doing this for just as long.
And this leads to my favourite part. The artists’ reception. We hold a private meet-and-greet for them just before we open the doors to the public. I love to see their reactions, to watch them look around, locate their work, and compare their groupings to the others’. There’s one wall that’s quite coveted by everyone. It’s a large wall that faces the front window. We never meant for it to be a feature wall, but because of its nature, it’s hard for it not to be. And, we usually pick the boldest work to be on that wall, simply because we want what is seen from the street to be eye-catching. And I know that the first place each artist is going to look when he or she walks in will be that wall. One of them will breathe a silent “YESSS!” before graciously moving on to compliment the others on their work, and pretend to be modest about where his or her own pieces are hung. There’s an artist in Posy that has never shown in a gallery before, and I’m looking forward to seeing her accept the admiration she so richly deserves, by fellow artists, and later, the public. These days, we usually have a small gathering of people waiting outside for the curtains to come down at 7:00, and this seems to be a delight to everyone on the inside. One time, a bunch of them clapped at that.
And then, for me, Posy will be over. Of course, the works will be on the wall for another month. But there’s a solo show coming up after Posy, and there are details to be finalised. May 15 is the deadline for submissions and proposals from artists who want to participate in Lore in August, and we’ll have to make the difficult decision about which works we won’t be including in that exhibit, and there will be unpleasant emails to send. I have promotional material to work on, and I must create a Call for Submissions for a project in 2018. And there’s the ever-present social media and its demands for new content. I’ll be doing all of this while in the gallery, surrounded by Posy. But my mind is already on next month, next project, next year. Maybe that’s why this is my favourite time in the gallery’s cycles; it’s the only time I can truly be present, both physically and mentally, in an exhibit. After that, onward.
But for now, the walls are bare, and it’s going to be a great week!