Category: General

Summer Art Festivals and Exhibits

| 09 June, 2013 08:49

June 9, 2013


I have been preparing to show my art in three different venues in June.  One venue is for a combined fashion, music and art show held at a bar in downtown Boston, Massachusetts.  Another venue is for an opening located in a real estate office in posh East Greenwich, Rhode Island.  The third venue is located in Narragansett, Rhode Island, and is more typical of summer tent-booth venues throughout New England.  Each setting has its unique challenges, and the preparation has been both exciting and confusing.  So many questions pop up as I plan for each exhibit: Who are the audiences in each venue and what paintings should I show at each?  How should I display the art given the requirements in each setting?  What should I prepare for and bring with me in case I have to adapt to something I wasn’t expecting?  Should I bring more paintings and keep them close in case someone is interested in a particular series?  How do I keep my new tent canopy from flying away in case of a windy day?


How does one select paintings from the body of their work that fit a specific venue?  There are not rules that I could find.  The best advice I have received has come from asking other artists I trust and admire.  But in the end, I have to trust my own instincts.  And, if I make a mistake, it is one more lesson-learned along the way.  I am always surprised by what people choose to praise or inquire about, what inspires them to see an object or purpose in my painting.  The first venue is later in the evening than I am used to and in a bar/lounge which I expect will be darkened, noisy, and flashy.  This sounds exciting, and I appreciate the exposure, but the audience will probably be a club-hopping set looking for exotic and unusual creations – a venue full of surprises for me.


It irritates me that I cannot bring all of my paintings with me, like a deck of cards, to pull out of my bag when someone praises one of my paintings.  I want to say, “Well, if you think that is good, just wait till you see these….”  I don’t say that or bring pictures of all my work, because that is not always how I feel about my paintings.  Confidence and competence are always tensions that challenge each new opportunity to exhibit my work.   The real estate office venue is unique, but more like a gallery showing.  I struggled to consider the limited set of paintings that would be appropriate for exhibiting to this upscale audience.  The owner/producer was helpful in advising on paintings that she thought were appropriate.  Here is where asking for advice is useful.


No surprise that I now know more about booth canopies than I ever imagined having to learn.  The other venue is outdoors.  Who knew that putting up canopy sides was so complicated?  I dragged my spouse to a series of practice sessions setting up the canopy and taking it down, learning how to identify the proper placement of each side, so that the front and back of the booth were open during the show, and could close up each evening after the day ended.  Never mind the 50-pound sand bags we carried from the car.  If the wind blows hard during the day, you don’t want your canopy and paintings to go sailing to the next town.


Finally, I had to research how to display paintings, without breaking the bank.  What kinds of display panels can I make inexpensively that look professional enough to show off my paintings?  This is where a clever spouse, relative or friend comes in handy, and I have all three.  I chose the PVC approach – plastic piping connected together to make panels, strung with chicken wire, and covered with black bed sheets.  This is not the most professional looking, but I didn’t want to invest in more expensive panels until I decided that displaying my paintings at art shows was something worth doing.  So I have what I have, will try them out this June, and make improvements from there.


This painter has been on a journey, and each experience teaches me that there is so much more to learn.  I don’t know what the future will bring for me, but so far, I have enjoyed the new, small steps on this journey.  The journey has changed me, how I view what I do in the studio, and how I imagine what I would like to do next.  Stay tuned.