Behind the Scenes, Part 2
In my previous post, I spoke about all of the decisions that need to be made when presented with the opportunity of a solo or small group show.
So you have the show booked, the preliminary decisions have been made
and the show date is approaching. What’s next?
If necessary for the art that you do, work must be framed - Wired for hanging, glass cleaned, even the backing paper might need to be replaced if it has taken a beating from other shows.
Labels! Some galleries will take care of that, so one must be prepared with a concise list of work, with titles, medium, price – in advance! If you are in charge of creating labels, a consistent format is necessary. And you just pray here that your computer doesn’t decide to be difficult!
Speaking of computers, a social media presence seems mandatory in this technology age. Social media posting is a huge part of getting the word out about your show. Yes, I send postcards, but they can easily get buried on anyone’s kitchen counter. (And speaking of postcards, don’t forget to mail them in advance!) Regular social media posts, with a sneak peek of the work that will be included in the show, goes a long way to remind your followers that the show is just around the corner.
Show time! Depending on the preference of the venue, you will either deliver the work and go about your day as the staff hangs the show (lucky you!), OR – and in my experience this is usually what happens, you deliver your work and on the promise of free pizza or other enticement, you are able to lasso a family member or a really great friend, into helping you hang the show.
Hanging the show takes a commitment of time. You may have a general idea of how the show will look, but unless you have measured the space down to the inch, you never really know until you start hanging, what will fit and how it will flow visually. There will always be the misplaced light switch or thermostat you weren’t counting on to disrupt your plan. In my experience, the work starts to go up on the walls and then as you see how the pieces are working together or fitting the space, some of the work comes down again. And again. It can be like playing a game of Tetris to get the pieces to fit in a way that the entire show has a cohesive flow, taking into consideration subject, colors in the piece, matting & framing, even the lighting that illuminates the work. Having a friend to assist helps. It may take just as long, but at least you can enjoy some friendly conversation along the way.
The show is hung. The art is labeled. Food for the reception is prepared (keep it simple if you are in charge of food in addition to everything else!). Now for the best part. Opening night. Step back in a quiet moment and look at the show in its entirety. Yes, you know each piece intimately. You created it after all. But step back and take in the body of work as a whole. Feel the joy of realizing that this body of work hanging on the walls is your artistic soul being presented to the public. It was work to put the show together, but it is work that you love. Enjoy the moment. Then open the door and let in your adoring fans.