Two weeks ago I had my first solo art show and sale. In my living room (literally in my salon). Even though I was in complete control of the situation and the guest list, I was a bit nervous. I had been working up to this for two years, building confidence along the way by showing my work incrementally on Instagram and my web site, as well as using the word “artist” to answer the unnerving question, “What do you do?”
I had been talking to my family and friends about what my next career move should be after two years of settling into my studio, and I repeatedly kept saying I wanted to have a show. But how? I don’t have gallery representation, and it’s hard to get it. I’m not dismissing a gallery, but I wanted to have a show when I wanted to have it, and I'm good at throwing parties. I picked up Austin Kleon’s Show Your Work last year, a little book packed with inspiration and concrete reasons why and how one should just show one’s stuff already. It was the push toward self-promotion that I needed. I was also reading about the Impressionists during this time, and I re-read a passage about their big origin exhibition in 1874 in Paris. After years of being rejected from the very conservative Royal Academy of Painting’s annual exhibition (and some being rejected for the show of rejects (the Salon des Refusés)), a group of artists we know very well today made their own damn show. It was nonjuried (no selection committee, no judges) and it was open to anyone. Mon Dieu!
It’s hard to imagine, but the culture of art didn’t include museums and galleries yet, certainly not the way we know them now. Art stayed within the realms of schools (excuse me, “academies”) and wealthy patrons, with dealers working as middlemen. Note: There have always been art critics, and they’re exactly the same today.
Over in America, the art scene was, well, not even a scene yet. But there was an art establishment that was very exclusive. An artist had to be a member of an academic organization to be considered for inclusion in an exhibition. But then again, being an artist was also a fairly respectable occupation. All that was changing in the face of modernism, and Robert Henri did like his Parisian brothers and organized the Armory Show in 1913 for independent artists. The culture of art and artists was changing in favor of the artist, and it continues to do so.
My point being: Throw your own damn show! It’s what all artists and art patrons have been doing for decades in some form. But now, you have all the same tools as the traditional venues to market and sell it yourself. Which leads me to me: My artwork is now available for purchase from my web site. Everything pictured is available unframed. Prices are listed by each photograph. Like it? Send me an e-mail. Want to see something in person first? You can stop by my salon.
Later is what?
After settling into various desk jobs, I always said I'd get back to painting later in life, and later is now. Again means that I tried once before. I decided to write about my painting endeavor, too, as a learning tool, an accountability tool, and to stay sharp in case I have to go back to a desk job. Again.
I love periodicals, and if I weren't trying to devote more time to painting I'd mail paper copies. Sign up here, and I'll conveniently send it (blog posts, sales, and new work) by e-mail instead.