Interdisciplinary. Community. Advocacy. Humor.
So much has gone on since I last posted here. There has been a whirlwind of minutiae getting ready for Invisible:visAble! It opens on October 30, 2015. The challenges have been many. I debated not writing about what has REALLY gone on during this pre-exhibition time period of well over a year -- we live in a time when everyone is always trying to "look good" and are often not forthcoming with anything but perfection -- but then I realized that my experiences might be an empathic gift to another newbie curator and maybe also a lesson to artists willing to listen and improve! In my personal life, I always say the one thing you can count on is change and in curating, it is no different. Change can be dealt with, a problem approached, a solution found. Move forward, right?
What CAN'T be dealt with is when you are responsible for several people and some of those people display a lack of professionalism, causing so much extra work and teeth-gritting, making a curator's life a nightmare!
This exhibition has been fraught with challenge since its inception. It has almost been "disabled".
The venue changed after the agreement with the previous gallery was not upheld due to some issues with the City of Atlanta during a move they made and then, once almost moved, I was left hanging even longer, pushing the show back several more months until I had to look for a new venue. The new venue had a space in November. This caused stress in my own exhibition schedule, as I have a collaboration exhibition opening September 18th, and juggling the two shows back-to-back, plus everything else, has been very stressful.
However, the gallery I AM having the exhibition in has no Director, having had only one in a year and a half, and she lasted just 3 months! Three artists have been dropped from the show for various problems of extreme unprofessionalism and diva attitude. I had a huge slip and fall in June with injuries and this past week, a major car accident and am nursing some big injuries from that.
As this is really the first time I have fully curated an art exhibition, I certainly have learned and experienced a LOT. I assumed that since I was doing almost ALL of the work, the artists involved who had agreed to be in the exhibition would happily create the work for the show, get the few things I DID ask for to me in a timely manner, and help promote the exhibition.
This is what I asked for:
2) A resume
3) A head shot
4) An artist statement
5) An exhibition agreement
6) Send out on their social media, email lists, etc.
These are standard in the art biz. I always provide curators with these things immediately, and certainly, well before their deadline. I don't expect them to hold my hand nor chase me down for each and every thing. I am respectful and appreciative.
These are talented people I have in the exhibition. A few of the artists have come through in a timely manner and provided everything on time, in full, and with integrity. I knew what they were making, so I could budget space and location of work that would best suit their piece. The information some provided in the way of a statement and resume assisted me in knowledgeably speaking about them, their challenge, and their work as I have been promoting the exhibition. The head shots helped me put faces to names and to use on the wall information I am hand making, so attendees can get to know them better. An exhibition agreement tells me they are serious, they understand what I need and when.
I worked solidly to win the Crafthaus micro grant.
But, many of the artists have made me chase them down repeatedly for these things. As of this writing I still don't have some of this from a few of the artists, despite multiple and direct emails. Some have not replied to a single thing. One pulled out when the venue changed because it wasn't "good enough for my career moves in Atlanta".
This has been several lessons of....what artists should NOT do when they are in a curated exhibition!
I hope that those of you reading this who are artists will take a moment to give respect if you want to be respected. We all live crazy busy lives and curated shows you are invited into are a gift given you that should be cherished and appreciated. Hold up your end of the bargain. Many of us are serious and professional and looking to have good things occur in our careers and be asked over and over again. Go the distance...or get out of the business.
Another truly horrible aspect is when work arrives damaged due to faulty or non-existent wrapping/boxing/packaging of the artwork. The amount of times I received delicate, breakable work simply stuffed into a padded envelope and kissed good-bye is astonishing. The work arrives damaged and the artist has "no idea" how this could have possibly happened. Right.
Harriete Estel Berman has a bunch of really good advice on her website, I encourage everybody to look it up!
So true! And on the other end, it is VERY frustrating for us artists when we send our work EXTREMELY well packed and protected, with instructions for repacking (and we aren't talking rocket science here) and the gallery/museum/curator/ etc sends it back with the packing material floating around and the piece not wrapped, just thrown into the box!
Boxing and shipping is fraught with disappointments, misunderstandings, inattention, and accidents. It's always a big risk. Let's not even talk international shipping.
Some have tried to insure the work while on the road - and found out that filing insurance claims is another nail to our coffins.
Oh, YES! I sent work -- two teeny boxes -- to Canada last year with the required "For Educational Purposes/being returned to the states" paperwork and got slapped with $400 customs and brokers' fees. It will be a looooooong while before I send work abroad.
As Brigitte mentioned I have a lot of information on my website and ASK Harriete about shipping in addition to the program sponsored by the Professional Development SEminar about shipping sponsored at a past SNAG Conference.
I will provide links below and recommend sending the links to a suitable program or post to participants in your exhibition. This may eliminate some headaches.
Use a CONDITION REPORT to document your work before shipping to an exhibition? http://www.harriete-estel-berman.info/profguidelines/ConditionRepor...
FROM the Professional Guidelines
A step by step PDF for creating a custom made shipping box.Lots of pictures...allow time for the download.http://www.harriete-estel-berman.info/profguidelines/PGShippingCust...
Learn how to make your own "Custom Shipping Box /Design Your Work for Shipping " http://youtu.be/5rc3jX5eHbU
Looking for information to ship your art or craft? ASK Harriete has many posts on shipping artwork and crafts http://askharriete.typepad.com/ask_harriete/shipping-artwork-and-cr...
Behind the Scenes, Design, Rolling Up, Packing UP Your Art and Craft for Shipping Planning
The IN & Out of Shipping from the PDS offers 9 presentations about shipping art and craft. Bookmark the page. http://www.harriete-estel-berman.info/profguidelines/ProfDevSeminar...