I'm guessing some of you haven't given much thought to how an art show at a gallery happens, so I thought you might be interested to learn a bit about it.
Yesterday Chris and I re-hung Sacred Flesh at the Visual Art Studio here in Richmond. I had a showing of it in October, but, because I have a lot of paintings, we decided to put new pieces in for this month's opening/exhibition.
This past week I took some time to try to arrange the paintings on the virtual walls I created in Adobe Photoshop so I would know which paintings to take and, perhaps, how I would hang them. I also typed up the models' stories and printed them out so I'd have them ready for the show. Still to come, I need to send the gallery owner, Anne, an Excel file with titles, mediums, and prices in it so she can print out the labels.
At 2 PM we began loading the minivan with canvases then went to the gallery to show my brother-in-law the exhibition. (He was in town for a mere 23 hours, so we had lots to cram into such a small amount of time! What a joy to see him!) After he left, we loaded a few paintings into the minivan then headed back home to get the rest of the paintings, the computer, and the tool box with hammers, hooks, nails, tape measure, level, etc.
Returning to the gallery around 3:45, we unloaded the car then began what turned out to be the most difficult part of the process - figuring out where everything should go. I think it's exceedingly important to place the works well so the viewers get led around the room in an interesting way. I also want the pieces to relate to each other in terms of color/size/subject matter/scale or any of several other ways. The schematic I had developed in Photoshop was a good place to start, but what we ended up with was NOT what I'd designed there! We had to work around windows and heat returns and thermostats and light switches and all sorts of things like that. Being there is the only real way to be able to set up a show.
Another challenge to this month's show was that we decided to group the pieces a bit more tightly and to double-hang some. It took some time to figure out at attractive grouping of the pieces. I ended up feeling delighted at the groupings and how handsome they look. This image of them doesn't really do it justice because they're not laid out just quite accurately, but it'll give you a feel for it until you can come see for yourself!
After we got things laid out and the first part of the above wall hung, I was out of energy, so we walked down to a restaurant for some restorative repast. That was very helpful - it is Restaurant Week in Richmond, so many of the best restaurants in town are offering a $25.02 three course menu with $2.10 of each meal going to the Food Bank. Nice! We weren't hungry enough to go for that, but we profited from their outstanding offerings and enjoyed our meals greatly.
The only other space we had to fill was the front window which I don't have a picture of, but I put Woman in a Chair and Don't Mess with Me! in there. I really wanted to put Don't Mess with Me! in the gallery itself, because I don't think people take the time to really examine the window pieces as much as they do the wall pieces, but it just didn't fit color-wise. The colors in it are so different than the others that it really needed its own environment. I figure both of those pieces will also do a great job attracting folks to the show (unless Don't Mess with Me! scares them with her look!)
After all that, we were DONE! In more ways than one! We got home at 9:30 PM, ready for relaxation and rest. Of course, I didn't quite give it to myself - instead, I wrote emails to the models to let them know which pieces are in the show so they'll know if their piece(s) is/are in it, then sent out an invitation to people about the show. There's a lot to do to launch a show, so much that the viewers don't realize, which goes into making it a beautiful, interesting, intriguing experience for each person who walks into the gallery.
Sometimes I wish being an artist were only about painting and drawing, but I think that's nothing more than a fantasy. I realize I also like the marketing efforts which go into it as well as the public aspects of talking about my work and having shows. It felt very satisfying, too, to have created a beautiful space last night. I'm happy with how the pieces look all hanging together. It's great having the women on display for all to see.
Thanks to each of you for helping me realize my vocation of being an artist. I am grateful to you each and every day.