Art Show Planning in Retrospect- One Month Later

It has been one month today since Sit.Stay.Art! and it still feels like the day after the show.

Sit.Stay.Art! graphics used with permission, Obsess Much Creative Services
I learned a lot. I'm ready to share.
I worked as art coordinator. Originally I was serving as a committee member for this and as, in all things, many volunteer and the numbers dwindle as commitments rise to the top, so this was, by show night, left to me, the event director, and wonderful remaining volunteers. What I learned most was on topics of submitting art, hanging art, and writing Calls For Entry. With our Call for Entry, I was working with one from a previous year, so it was easy to keep most of the pertinent information, although I did leave off one bit of criteria on the form (oops!) and a big "Thank you!" to the artists who brought it to my attention with grace and politeness!

So, art shows... from the art coordinator point of view? Hmmm... it's really fun to see all the applications and images flying in... Here are some other things you get:

Questions! Lots and LOTS of questions! "When is pick up? Drop off? Where is the show? Do we get tickets? Is there seating? What do I wear?" So many questions. Most of these are actually found in the Call for Entry form, but it's human nature to get excited and get the dialog going. But yeah, most of them, including the address of the venue with pick-up/drop-off times are generally in a standard call-for-entry form for an art event, or should be. Sometimes you have to scan for them. I will admit I've missed this info and I have been the one with a ba-jillion questions. I was challenged to be both patient with questions (just because I answered Artist A's question doesn't mean Artist B magically overheard my email response!) and quick with responses.

Complaints... ruh-roh. I have never been to an art show where I was working in a "behind the scenes" position where this did not happen. I have even gallery-sat at a non-art show birthday party where this happened- (they were unhappy that the industrial-converted space didn't have good air conditioning) - The volunteers are trying to please the artists, the patrons (particularly if the paid for a ticket to the show) and also the sponsors, as in the case of our charity shows- we want them back! Blowing up in front of patrons and volunteers at the sales desk then standing by your painting with a big grin may not return the favor of sold artwork. But yeah, it happens. I've been the one doing this too. I think performance artists wouldn't parody artists and galleries with egos if they didn't continue to exist.

Rule Bending...wait a minute. A Call for Entry has specs for a reason. Usually it is to protect both the artist and the venue/agency/gallery/whoever is receiving the art. In our case we received a few pieces where judgement calls needed to be made, usually pertaining to timeliness of the submission. If an artist shows up to the reception with art and the committee has no knowledge of this and is sitting at the door taking tickets and handing out name tags, and the received art has already been installed, there may not be a place for it. Even more difficult in the case of say, a painting with unfinished sides and no way to hang it on the back, or a complex installation with no way to install it? Our Call for Entry was up six months before the deadline but we received many requests to submit art after the deadline and a few pieces we had to turn away on the night of the show because they were unsuitable for hanging in the gallery. They simply were not finished. That said, it was great to see how many artists wanted to submit and I hope they come back!! have questions? Call or check ahead of time to avoid being turned away! We know there will be questions, I mentioned this one ;)

Loretta (detail) by Amanda Christine Shelton, 2011,  created for Sit.Stay.Art!2011  Sold/Private Collection

All this being said... next year has so much potential! The best advice I could give is to be adventurous and diverse. We had a lot of traditional media and that's great, but the eye-catching pieces were the unconventional and the ones that were a little extra special, just like when you go looking for an animal to become a member of your family. They will have a certain something that speaks to you. If you are interested in Sit.Stay.Art! (and I hope you are!!) you can find out more information on their website, where they also have the [very few] remaining unsold pieces from the show. (also find their social media links if you are an artist and want to keep tabs on the next event) Proceeds benefit Pets and People Humane Society of Yukon, OK.