One of the things I enjoy about being an artist is making new friends, often of quite like minds (though unlike minds are just fine, too!) as I navigate around trying to get my work shown, or just to make contacts and "be seen".
Last week I sent out a bunch of inquiries and submissions to galleries in Chicago and Atlanta via email. I've been surprised to already hear from a couple places in Atlanta, and while those inquiries didn't result in shows, I did receive some nice feedback (though C., who is from the south, says they're Southern and so just being polite—I don't know!) and one of the responders is not only the director of an awesome gallery, but a pretty incredible artist herself! Check out Dayna Thacker's website to see for yourself. You can imagine that I am very attracted to her architectural collages, but the work that I originally saw on the gallery's website (click on "PAST" to see the archives) is also lovely.
Ego as Architecture, Portrait #7 (giraffe)
24"x32", collaged paper, graphite and pastel on panel, 2008
Another artist I have recently discovered is Danna Ray, whom I had the pleasure to meet when I was in New Hampshire in June and attended the opening of a three-person show in which her work was included, at Nahcotta gallery in Portsmouth. I was really blown away by the quiet magical quality of her paintings, which seemed to emulate her personality (at least as far as I could tell in the few minutes I was able to speak with her!).
(I couldn't find the title or medium or size info!)
So let me get back to my recent foray into getting my work OUT THERE. This past year I had my first major one-person museum exhibition, which no doubt helped me get three smaller solo shows I have lined up in Buffalo, Corning, and Binghamton, NY. I've also showed my work in southeast New Hampshire. I have a plan, kind of. I feel comfortable with my level of success locally now, so that I have extended my reach regionally and state-wide pretty well, too (not yet including NYC). I pursued galleries in New Hampshire because my dad lives there, and I thought it would be easier for me to get around, deliver artwork, etc. if I knew the territory a little bit. I suppose my next step could be Boston as far as that region goes, and still be within easy driving distance of my dad's as home base.
Now I'm thinking of doing the same with other cities, hence Chicago and Atlanta. I have a pair of good friends who live just outside Chicago and who are collectors of my work, so they can be yet another home base for me. As for Atlanta, C. is from nearby Chattanooga, TN so I figured that would be another less intimidating market somehow. Familiarity factors in here quite a lot for me, I guess, so even with cities where I've yet to visit, if I have a close contact there, it's more comfortable. It's not always easy taking a big step into a major unknown! Anything to personalize it somehow works for me.
Of course one of the things you need to make reasonably sure of when you are submitting your work for gallery consideration is that it's a good fit! You can look at the gallery's website and the artists they have showed in the past and are showing now. You also need to look at a mission statement or read the "about" section. Maybe the gallery only shows local or regional work. I am usually very careful of this, yet when I submitted to Gallery Stokes my brain neglected to process the fact that that is just the case, so, as Dayna put it so diplomatically, "I'm afraid you are just too far afield." Indeed!
I kept an eye on my Google Analytics page to see who's been looking at my website since I sent that batch of emails. Seems like it's about even between the Chicagoans and the Atlantans, with the major difference being that the Atlantan visitors spent a lot more time on the site! I can't help but wonder now, does my work somehow appeal more to a southern audience? Or is it just coincidence?
I guess in the meantime, rather than obsessing over statistics, I should head into the studio and make more work. After all, I've got three shows to prepare for in 2010—and who knows what I still have to look forward to in 2009!