RE: Pay to show in galleries? When to make that choice if at all....

From: Jonathan Bailey ^lt;>
Date: 02/06/04-08:16:07 PM Z
Message-id: <>

Christopher and company,

Interesting thread... and a thorny issue.

Here are a few thoughts, FWTW:

The short story, as I see it: The "gallery system" as it's been known and
practiced, especially as it relates to photo (with it's roots going back to
Alfred S.) - is pretty much road kill (in my opinion). Defunct. With the
(very legitimate) costs of doing business it's impossible to gamble on new
(read unproven) talent, because, as someone noted, new talent has a dismal
track record of selling - and to make the bills they *have* to sell the
work. We artists are - again, in my opinion - suffering an in-between
moment in history right now. The old system is faltering - crumbling - and
only working (if at all) for a chosen few. While any possibilities regarding
the "new system" (paradigm?) is still nascent.

So, what do we do for 25-30 years while waiting to become an overnight

Christopher - specifically to address your NYC gallery exhibition hopes: Did
you relocate to NYC to "make it in NYC"? If so, funding your own show there
will probably only hurt you. It isn't so much you had a show in Manhattan -
but *where* you had your show. Caveat emptor. *Everyone* in The Big Apple
knows who the pay-for-view galleries are. And, it's not at all unlikely to
be a count against you with the blue chips - should they ever chance to
peruse your resume - that you went that route. But this *does not*
necessarily apply to galleries in the provinces (as the NY'ers would say).
New York is an art world unto itself (tempest in a tea-pot) - even if they
do vigorously (and, at times, persuasively) assert how NY is the art capitol
of the world. To "make it in NY" you're going to have to know someone -
simple as that. The work you're doing is (almost) beside the point.

That was meant to be helpful, believe it or not. So, you're left wondering
about plan B.... Good question.

I think you've heard thoughtful and considered replies already. I heard
alot of wisdom in those posts and I'm listening my own edification as
well.... But, I think the short answer may be that we need to be as creative
as artists in how to live with our art and how to share it, as we need to be
in creating it - indeed, perhaps more so. Simply put, I believe it's up to
each individual to make something happen in their own particular fashion.
And I believe that's a do-able proposition.

I've been at this for 30 years now - more than that actually. Talk to any
mature working artist (or even an immature one whose been at it a while) and
I think one theme to emerge will be this all takes *much* (no make that
*MUCH!*) longer than any of us thought it would (or could!). In the
meantime - keep doing the work. I personally think your $2400 would be much
better spent on silver plates and chemistry. It's been my observation that
when the work is ready it will find its own way out, regardless of what we
think, do or say. So, (as much as I hate to say it) let's be patient. BUT
KEEP DOING THE WORK!! In those infuriating (even debilitating) moments we
should keep in mind NOONE has asked us to make this stuff! We do this
uninvited. We are not OWED a thing for doing what we do. Do I think what
I'm doing - and others are doing - is important?? Absolutely!!! Crucial,
actually! But there is so much art being produced. Way too much, really....
But if you feel strongly about what you're doing (and I hope and trust that
you do) - then go make something happen. Don't think the galleries or anyone
else can do that for you. They too are busy surviving.

I might suggest you look into the host of non-profit galleries - there are
multitudes. I also suggest you look into college and university art
galleries to show your unique work. Commercial galleries are going to be a
tough nut to crack at the moment - they are under *unfathomable* pressure at
the moment (mainly, from the hordes of MFA's we've been cranking out for the
past 20+ years). I would also suggest you look into completely "alternate"
places to share your work. If you're going to pay the freight for a show,
perhaps making it completely a place of your choosing - not normally
associated with showing "art" - would be worth investigating.

Someone asked what luck people are having with their websites for promotion
and sales. My own experience has been very positive. I intermittently sell
work "unbidden" off my website, and it has been an excellent tool for people
(mainly museum curators) to have available as an introduction. Further,
it's been indispensable in advertising my workshops. So, I feel strongly
it's been a worthwhile investment.

Hope this has been some small help.

Best - Jon
Tenants Harbor, Maine
Received on Fri Feb 6 20:16:23 2004

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