Wednesday, December 28, 2016

2016 and Beyond

 Three Things 

Photo: Candice Price

FIRST: Nick Thomson and I are putting the experiment called 'ellipsis' on hold. We hosted six art parties and other smaller events. We showed the art of over 50 artists, and sold multiple works from more than half of those we showed. We consider the experiment a success. We learned quite a bit, including that Nick and I are not high-energy salespeople.  We have talents, but networking, marketing, and spreadsheet making are not them. (EDIT BY NICK: Jeanine makes great spreadsheets – they just drive her crazy, same as you.)  Of course we have many people to thank for their hard work and support. If you are reading this post, then THANK YOU!

Second: This year, on top of hosting three of our ellipsis parties, I curated an all women’s show, “We Do What We Must,” at Rodger LaPelle Galleries.  The show was wonderful, in many ways.  I was able to reach out to many artists, from a variety of backgrounds.  We had many conversations about what it means to be a woman in today’s world, across many cultural backgrounds.

During that show, I decided it was time for me to move on, and part ways with LaPelle.  I had worked there for over nine years, and shown my work there for close to twelve, and it was a difficult decision to make. For a while I had ellipsis to take my time an energy and thought of it as the gallery where I was showing.  Now, following ellipsis closing,  I am now officially without a gallery hub, and will be working towards finding a new one.  The good news is that no longer running ellipsis has given me the boon of extra time in the studio, to add to a new portfolio I will use when I approach galleries in 2017.  

Third; The Future: 
After neglecting this blog for so long I skimmed it to remind myself of what is here.  I like the posts with more photos of art better then those with a lot of words.  So more of that in the future.  

Nick and I are looking to visit Portugal.  I have a gallery there and have been trying to visit for many years.  

Also, I'm planning on doing the 2017 Philadelphia Open Studio Tours in Oct.  I have an idea of a creepy show that will be hung in my basement.  I'll be inviting some artists (who don't have easily accessible studios) to hang their own wall in my living room.  

One thing I'll be working on is reestablishing my web presence. I'll work on a website to host my past and present works. I feel like that would be a more permanent thing, like a house. Where as this blog and other social media will be more changeable like an RV.  I'll also be working on my other blog:

Lastly I'll be keeping my eye open for a gallery who would like to show my naughty, weirdo art.  

As promised, here is some art to look at.  Fingers crossed for a better 2017! 



Saturday, May 16, 2015

Adventures in Art Retail

When I was a kid, a teenager, I secretly wanted to be one of those famous artists.  One who was so famous someone else would do all the work so I could sit and play in my studio.  I think I held that dream until about a year or two ago.

With Christie's breaking the billion-dollar-in-a-week mark, it's not surprising that we all have stars in our eyes. I believe, like in the United States' economy, there are the "one percent" of famous artists.  And they are glorified.  Galleries want those money makers, and artists want to be them.  Here is an article at Business Insider about buying art as an investment. And here is one on how business people can buy their first big piece of art .  As most of us who stick with making art know, it's not about the money for us.  We just want someone to appreciate our work and maybe make a little money so we can survive with only one day job.

So now that I've decided not to move to NYC and start all those steps to try and become an art darling what am I going to do?

People are afraid to buy their first piece of art. Think about it – there is good art out there, anything from $25 to $500,000. But if it's on a wall being celebrated it's harder to part with that cash then to buy movies, games, plants, sports tickets, cable bill, a pair of jeans, or a new pair of shoes.  I've been there.  There was this invisible barrier.  I could make art.  I could sell it, I would hesitate to trade it, but I couldn't buy it.  Until I was picking up a paycheck and saw a little painting for half the amount I sold mine for.  And I did it. I bought that painting and her work sells for more then mine does now.  Part of it was needing the money to pay for it, but the larger part was just doing it once.  Hell, I worked at a gallery selling art all the time, but the thought of me buying was just impossible to think of.  I still believed it was lawyers and bankers, investors, old money and new that were allowed to have art.  Never-mind I knew I sold to teachers, social workers and other artists.  I want all people, to have art.  I want them to feel the joy I do when my eye wonders over to a hand made object I've hung on the wall and for a few minutes contemplate why the artist did a thing, or didn't do a thing.  I've found objects in some of the art I own that I hadn't noticed for months.  It brings me actual joy.  And there is also the knowledge of spending the money on the art allows for the artists to continue their life as an artist.  Sometimes it's more important then the money.  More then a few times I was on the verge of giving up and sold something for maybe $20 and I kept going because of it. The fact that someone wanted to take my work home with them was enough.  It gives a boost to do it again, try something new, and not pick up that third job.  Recently I've been trying my hand at selling others' art.  Well, I've done it as a gallery assistant, but this time, to do it as a curator, as the retailer, is a larger joy in connecting the art to the new owner.  The artists' excitement of even being chosen to show is enough to do it again and again.  To visit studios and hand-pick art that might find a home, so the artists can keep making more.

So what am I doing?  I know the gallery system is dead.  Sure, the big named ones will last, but with the internet it is harder and harder to get people out and into your gallery.  Folks are busy, they want to get more than to look at some art at one stop.  I believe in art.  I believe in well crafted, thoughtful art, and my thoughts are along the lines of offering something else to the community.  A place to hang out and live with the art for a time – to buy some coffee, which contributes to showing good art.  A place where the people working are friendly, and the price ranges from one dollar sign to six.  Where the myths, such as,  'not understanding art' and 'only crazy people make art' are broken. I want artists to hang out and use the place as a resource, I want collectors to be able to talk with artists.  I want great parties.

 In anticipation of starting this business I threw a party.  I had a limited guest list because I haven't done anything like this before.  It was great! We had 60-70 people here. Eighteen works from eight of the fourteen artists showing found homes. Sadly I was too busy to take photos.  Here are some that others took and I hope to add more.  And look for another party in September!

Huey West (pictured indoors) played banjo on the front porch                            
Gwen  Rooker with toy puppetry

                Sarah P. Robinson and Gwen doing toy puppetry

 Chris Wood and Trudy Watt try some Bánh mì - Vietnamese tofu hoagie. Rodger Lapelle is getting a drink.

Rodger Lapelle and Christine McGinnis Talk to Sarah Hunter

More art up stairs

Monday, December 29, 2014

Why not having a 'JOB' doesn't equal being in the studio 40 hours a week.

Some of my artist friends are surprised with how little studio time I get.  I'm lucky at the moment and my bills are low. The ones I have, I pay with by selling my paintings. If changes in life scare you, the life of an artist isn't for you.  Because - this will change one day.  Either folks won't buy my paintings or I'll need to pay more bills, and I'll be working full time again.  I always assumed I'd spend all my time in the studio if I had the chance. Studio time does vary.  One week, I might get three hours in.  Another week I might be in every morning, noon and night and get 60 to 70 hours of studio time.  But this is rare and usually only comes up when I'm faced with a deadline. Why? Why can't I do the thing I love, that I want to do all the time?

  • They didn't tell you when you were going to art school that being an artist is running your own business. Book keeping. Taxes. Tracking down where your paintings are and who owes you what.
  • Social media. Like this blog.  It's more than a distraction - it's a necessity. 
  • Life. You can't make art if you don't live it.
  • Life, cont'd. Shit happens. 
  • To be crass, networking is very important.  Or one can just say 'maintaining friendships.' 
  • Gallery openings and parties.  Again, it's not so much for fun. How many introvert artists do you know who actually enjoy these things?
  • Current affairs.  People expect artists, or maybe other artists expect artists to have an opinion about what is going on in the world.  A lot of artists get away with a statement like 'Meh, I'm in my studio so I don't know what is going on in the world.'
  • Research. What shows will you apply to? Which galleries do you 'court?' Sending cold emails is a waste of time. 
  • Applying to shows.  This could go under the general running of the business, but it's more then book keeping.
  • Courting collectors... or more like, reminding them you are here.  I try to send thank-you notes and holiday cards.  This also goes under networking.  But collectors get excited about other artists. If you are lucky you'll find the rare 'Lifer' who seems to love what you do and is eager to support you.  Most collectors are looking for something for the wall, or get excited about you for a few months or years and then find a shiny new artist to love.  Which is fine.  But reminding them that you have new ideas is a good thing to do. Also, collectors are what makes being an artist possible.  I'll dope slap you if you aren't grateful when someone loves your work enough to spend money on it.
  • Promotion of all shows. As much as possible, all of the time, to the annoyance of your friends. Designing and buying cards, distributing them, emails and anything else you can think of.
Those of you thinking that maybe this doesn't reflect your life - it is very probable that it doesn't.  There is no plan, no map that says: 1. go to art school 2. get a gallery.... etc.  Each path is different for each artist.

Those of you thinking that your art is good enough that a gallery will come down and take care of all the business for you are, sadly, misled - most likely by Hollywood and the rumor mill. Dealing with a gallery is work. Running a gallery is work.  The gallery owners have enough of their own work to do. Maybe, in VERY rare cases, something like this could happen.

One might bring in enough money to have an agent or hire someone to do office work.  But this isn't what I see at my level. I consider myself a medium fish in a medium pond. I'm probably smallish as far as medium goes in Philly.  I'm not great at all the networking stuff. I don't go to enough events. I hang with people I find interesting, not ones that move my career anywhere.  Well, that's not true, it's just not the reason I hang out with them if they do have a good impact.

You'll see me repost people's announcements on facebook and 'like' as much art as I can. When I do like it.  Even though there is the little voice in my head that says "What if I'm the only one that 'likes' this and everyone will see I'm a fake" each time I repost or 'like' some art. It only takes me a second to do these things.  It helps the artists out tremendously and I have had many people help me in ways I won't be able to repay.

I'm missing some things here.  I'd also like to hear what other artists think about this.  What things do you do that you didn't realize you would be doing as an artist?

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

The artist talk you didn't go to - Catherine Mulligan and Jenny Kanzler

It's not surprising that at noon on a Wednesday the auditorium at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts isn't full. It is a shame that more of the students don't take advantage of the Art at Lunch talks.  Well, I suppose the real shame is that I didn't take advantage of the Art at Lunch Talks nearly enough as a student.  The students will look back and wonder what on earth was so important that they didn't catch an emerging Mulligan and partially emerged Kanzler.  Lucky for them the show in the Alumni gallery is up until January 25th.

This is what you missed:
First, Jenny, whose work I've followed for several years. I've had a bit of a crush on her for some time...I even fainted on her once at an opening.  I'm still trying to figure out if the crush is because she's a lovely person or a wonderful artist.  Instead of being a crazy stalker person I've tried to promote her art as often as possible.  No, it's not because she is a wonderful person, but because she is an excellent painter. She explores her life in a very raw, truthful and open way. Her talk was from the heart.  You missed the stories behind the paintings, but lucky for you, you don't need the stories to enjoy her art. I believe she only let us peek a tiny bit into her life today, and that tiny bit was very powerful.  She is an old soul.  She has the sense that she's been here before, but is grateful for the opportunity. (I'm sorry I don't have an image of one of Jenny's paintings. Jenny- email me a jpg)

                      i very much want this painting --->

Second was Catherine.  I'm going to brag now.  I bought one of Catherine's paintings for $75 a few years back.  I had sold a painting and went to collect the check at the wonderful Beth Medoway's house.  Catherine had just dropped off two squares for the Square Art Deal that Beth used to run. I had to have one.  My only regret is not buying both.
The painting I got for a steal.  8x8" Still Life with Pea Soup

She almost sold out her show at FAN Gallery this past month.  Her prices are still reasonable, for the moment, but that won't last.  I've never had more then a few passing words with her, if ever... I vaguely remember telling her I bought one of her works.  I even tried to get her for Rodger's Gallery but she was all ready committed to showing at FAN.  Bragging aside, her talk was as charming as you'd want from a youth (Catherine, if you read this, it's ok for you to hate me for saying that).  I won't ever forget those dark eyes and lovely blond hair that she tried to tame into a pony tail... (ugh, new art crush). She clearly explained where she was from and where she was going (in the art since).  I think that when she lives a little more, searches a little harder, she will sprout wings and fly.  Her paint is the kind you want to eat.  Her ideas straightforward.

If you are an artist, this show will make you want to make art.  If you just love to look at art you'll be high for a week.  And if you are a collector... NOW IS THE TIME! Seriously. One of Jenny's works was $450.  I don't think a work in the show was above $2000.... and I want to buy them ALL.

Here is the facebook invite.  Reception TOMORROW