Francesjoy Bradbury wrote, “I am searching for an affordable venue for showing and dispersing my art. I’m wondering how one does that — I mostly gift my work.” Completing the art cycle almost always involves some kind of sharing at the end — it’s just nice to take something that started out in your imagination, blossomed in private and then offer it to the world. Bruce Springsteen says he’s never lost the drive to communicate through his art — not once — in his entire life, which is why he’s still writing songs and making records at 71. Whether it’s to complete the creative act or for reasons of ego force or commerce, showing can create real connection and bring creative closure. So how do you do it?
Pre-global pandemic, if you had a million dollars, you could rent out the Walter Kerr Theatre on 48th Street in Midtown Manhattan and put on your own one-person show. And if you were a national treasure, you could then sell out your nights there and single-handedly break box office records, like Bruce did in 2018. If you’re like the rest of us and just want to throw your spaghetti at the wall and see if it sticks, there are ways to do that, too. Here are some suggestions, online and off, for putting on a show:
Find your local arts council and follow their calls for entry. You can enter juried shows, usually for a small fee, or become a member and participate in member shows. This is a terrific way to get some exhibition experience while also making new art friends.
Start a small art group yourself, or form or join a collective where you share the costs of renting exhibition space, managing a temporary (or permanent) gallery and split advertising.
Sites like CallForEntry and the New York Foundation for the Arts list exhibition opportunities weekly for amateur and professional artists and also post jobs, public art calls and gallery opportunities.
When safe to do so, mount a show in your living room, garage, potting shed or back garden. Gather a couple of other artists to make it more fun. Print flyers and invite everyone you know. Show only your best and original work; price it by size and stick to it.
PS: “Talk about a dream, try to make it real.” (Bruce Springsteen)
Esoterica: Not everyone wants to live online — I know I don’t, though my work spends a fair amount of time there. As far as I can gather, the simplest way to show your work online at the moment is to download the image-driven app Instagram on your phone and create a free profile. You can take photos while in the app, edit and post them there and have yourself a show. The catch is that if you want to attract an audience, your work has to translate well on the small screen, and not all excellent work can pull that off — the work that seems to do the best grabs the eye and cuts through with quality, design-strength and like much successful art through the ages, greases the wheel with a little showmanship. Nevertheless, the internet is an affordable venue at which to throw your spaghetti, and it just may stick well enough for you to distribute it, too.
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“Every artist ought to be an exhibitionist.” (Egbert Oudendag)
Sometimes we see what no one looks for–images that have waited for us to find them. If we are lucky, these images will wait while we try to capture them with paint on canvas. They will probably change as we reach for them. I believe that if we clearly and honestly record what we see, we will be surprised, enriched, and sometimes stunned by what we’ve found.
There is almost always a narrative in my paintings as I believe that a story may be introduced in a scene. The viewer must fill in the before and after with unique eyes and experience, but enough can be presented to set a challenging stage if the work is successful.
Along with being a visual story teller, I’ve been called a colorist, surrealist, patternist, and sometimes a texturist. I’m an Atlanta artist–an oil painter for over twenty-five years–with a studio in Brookhaven. I love working with oils because each painting session results in a new revelation of what they might do. There is a mystical quality to each painting and each day for me.