the steep learning curve

First off, I did not take any of these pictures. Second, I am not in any of these pictures. This my friend, is the show I did in NY, yes, the big apple....in January. One dreams of having their work in NY. Aspires to it. Even if they have to PAY $600 to do it!

Last summer I was 'invited' to be a part of an art show of 'raw artists'. What this entailed was me sending in a picture of one or two pieces I had in mind and a bio. I was accepted on the spot and immediately put into the category of something to the effect of: 32 of the best raw artists in the world. All else I had to do was pay for my wall space. Here is where I made a mistake. I could pay $300 or $600. I'd get twice the space (roughly 5 x 9 ft I believe) for twice the money. I went for twice the money.

This felt thrilling. It felt worth it. I was going to have my art in New York City!!! Yee haaaaaa!!! Few things go as planned in life. The first sign of something not being groovy was when I was informed less than a month before the show that the hanging day was moved from wed. to tues. thur was the opening. I actually had a relative flying out from Seattle to spend one night with me before the show...well that got all messed up. I was on a tight budget and now I had to pay for another nights stay....no apologies, nothing. This also put my friend out who also was tight on money, so three people were directly affected and never apologized to or compensated.

Next little setback was the day I got there to hang my work I was horrified to see, as you can see from the photos, that the ONLY space left for me was next to the ceiling. My work is the puzzle work...you can see someone taking a picture of it and his head is tilted back. I was told first come first serve which didn't make sense to me since I paid for a certain rectangular space...shouldn't it have been marked off? I could have paid $300 and still been left with the space I had. Other artists took up way too much space and got primo spots. I had a nice bio all typed up and mounted onto a puzzle surface which no one could read so I had to put puzzle pieces into a little trail that led down to a post on the wall. All my tags with the name and price on my art was unreadable too.

Opening night...promises of lots of publicity....lots and lots....well, opening night looked to me to be filled with artists and friends they invited. I saw not one journalist/photographer. Not one write up. We were given little business cards the day of art hanging and asked to 'spread them around new york'. There was a larger room to the left of where my work was hanging. Opening night everyone was there, my area was where the band was set up and they played so loudly that when I dared to stand under my work in the hopes of talking to anyone I couldn't hear. (I was hoarse and my ears rang for days after the show). I can't complain too much because I met a woman who lives in NY and she ended up buying a piece from me later on. So the $1000 it cost me for entering the show/paying for hotel/food/gas and selling a piece later, netted me a profit and for that I am thankful.

I never saw any write up...I heard some not so good things that I don't care to repeat. I believe that the person who set this event up believes in what they are doing....I believe they weren't out to screw anyone; but I also believe that they did not do a good job. Opening night I was even confronted, I would call it being yelled at in my face actually, by this person. I was asked what I thought about the opening and when I asked if they really wanted to know and they said yes...when I said I was unhappy with the space I got, that I didn't get what I paid for etc. I found myself staring into a livid face 1" from mine, yelling that I was ungrateful and had a bad attitude. That I needed to get out and mingle. ( I tried to mingle and found myself talking to a woman that was either schizophrenic or just psychotic...muttering about the mob and repeating that she didn't understand, didn't know blah blah blah)

This is just another example of how people who try to help artists really aren't listening and doing what it takes. I was never given an apology. Never asked if I had feedback, I would have given feedback and tried to make it a better experience and maybe participated again if things were different. This person isn't going to hear me. I'm not going to waste my time. All I know is what doesn't work as of yet. This could have been a special event and gotten good publicity. But it was careless in my opinion, how this was set up. Not everyone in that show, in my humble opinion, should have been in the show. And this is typical....they are trying to fill a venue/space, they need the money and they take anyone. I really don't want to sound judgemental and better than thou, everyone has a right to make art and I am not saying my work is better than....but if you are having a show of a certain caliber you need to assess the work. This goes for juried shows too, I have been in a few and I cannot believe the work that is included. It isn't really art...its craft..it isn't even craft. Its crap. There I said it. And there is nothing wrong with crap but don't say you have the worlds best and then show art of whoever pays to get in. I know I have to be careful in how I say all this....heck I am sure there are shows that were I to have my work in them someone else would say how can you let that person in? You call THAT ART?

Its all so subjective. I dunno. Maybe I am the one who should remove myself and let everyone show what they are going to show. Maybe I am the one who needs to be selective. Duh! Perhaps to some of you I look terribly naive. I have been, I am, but less so than before all this. This just goes to show you how an artist can be seduced or sold a bill of goods that were they not so desperate to find a way to get their art shown, they might otherwise not try these venues. And I know I am not alone in this and I know I have paid much less than some people have for events similar to this.


leslyf said...

Hallo Paula Art

thank you for wanting to join us at Art Blogs 4 U .. I will be delighted to add your name in about a months time. This is because your blog is not yet 3 months old and that is one of the rules I'm afraid. But I am really looking forward to putting your link up in due course.

I can't get over your experience with this particular show. From the photos I would say that it is the worst hung show I have ever seen ... even amateur groups manage to present paintings to the public better than this. No wonder you feel cheated ... I would too. And to have to pay all that money too.

All I can say is that whoever put the show on will not have done themselves any favours. But that is not much comfort for you is it?

Hopefully you can put it all behind you and find another opportunity to show your work soon.

Self Taught Artist said...

I have to laugh when you say its the worst hung show you have ever seen. It was bad. I guess luckily few people actually saw it eh?
Look forward to being on your blog when the calendar strikes three.

Misplaced said...

Man...what a nightmare- i was trying to think of the silver lining but al I could think of is you didn't do it twice...but that's kind of reaching.

Nellie Bass Durand said...


Self Taught Artist said...

the silver lining is, I did sell art as a result of it (not to mention she is a wonderful person and I've made a friend). And I proved to myself I can go to ny even if I panicked...and it actually made me see that my art is better than ALOT of art out there!

Daniel Sroka said...

Would you feel ok mentioning who ran the show, or how you learned about it, so that the rest of us can avoid it? :)

Group shows are so rarely worth it. The only time I have found them worthwhile was when they were run by a focused group, with a strict jurying policy. But even then, the results are often a cacophony of styles, making it hard for any one person's work to make an impression.

Self Taught Artist said...

Hey Daniel,
I decided not to name the person or group because I don't want to get into bad mouthing and pointing fingers. I will say they found me because I had done a link exchange for my website. I knew the person, he is in the UK and we had emailed a few times. When this 'festival' came up he was the one to contact me and invite me. These festivals have been going on a few years now and what made it seem okay was me and my friend emailed a handful of people who had participated in them b4 and we got good feedback that this was not a scam and they felt it was good for their career.
I knew it was a chance and I knew that paying even more than $100 was really a stretch but it felt important to get my work/self out of Vermont. The biggest reason I did it was because of the so called publicity this was supposed to get. It got publicity but not anywhere that mattered. I should have checked that more. Had gallery owners and collectors been invited/came, I think it would have been alright. Had there been more planning and stringency in who show's their work...could have been great.
Had the location been more user friendly...even better. I still don't regret it believe it or not. I learned alot about myself and art.
I totally agree with you about group shows. At least so far...I hope things will change.