I was hoping for more input on the “venues” powwow. Seriously, if we could only have one space open their doors this year, what would be the preferred business model?
New Art Austin opened this weekend and AMOA held a day long series of workshops to inform artists about Austin’s art system (and by extension, the rest of the world). I decided to attend at the last minute to take some notes. So I showed up late for the first session:
What do museums, non-profits, alternative spaces, and commercial gallery directors/ curators want?
Already in the Q&A, Risa Puleo, Diane Barber, Anastasia Colombo and Arturo Palacios were answering questions. I believe it was something ’bout how they (as gallerists, curators, directors) prefer to receive artist submissions. Having your own website is useful for this. Then someone asked the ratio of actual work and a CV/resume (concerned with having shows all being student shows). All four panelists said the art, without skipping a beat and before the question was complete. After reiterating the fact that the art is what’s most important, Diane Barber?, offered that your resume could enhance your chance with an institution. By showing previous commitments, your dedication to art is justified and more seriously considered.
Then someone asked about approach. Referring to an earlier answer about not hounding galleries annoyingly, what would be an appropriate way to stay connected? Arturo Palacios took the lead here, “Know the space.” He described his interaction with individuals calling about representation, but have never even seen the gallery. He could shut them down by asking if they knew the gallery was only open one day a week. Engage the gallery. Attend the shows and actually look at the art. Introduce yourself as an art lover before you walk in with your portfolio in hand. I forgot at what point it was said, but by engaging the gallery you can also figure out which space is right for you. You can save time and energy if you are already familiar with the gallery’s programming.
Advice on selecting works for a submission, making digital images, writing your resume and artist’s statement.
I wasn’t particularly interested in this session, but I did manage to catch a few tips. Eva Buttacavoli began by describing the submission process of New Art Austin, which was all digital. Mark Smith offered some resume writing tips; feature exhibitions at the top, this is an instance where “more is more”, list all of your shows whether they were at cafés, galleries, etc. Begin with a one-page summary, then continue with modules featuring detailed info about a job experience. As per artist statements, use clear and concise writing. Sean Gaulager fielded the question, “Do you need a website?” Yes.
Thoughts on what writers want–and what you want them to get about your work.
I went to this session to mess with my colleagues’ heads. I promised I was going to emit some high-powered glowering at them. Ivan Lozano began with a run down of how he conducts his research. Using the internet he wants to be able to find images of your work. Amanda Douberley provided advice about how to interact with writers. Be ready to talk about your work. It’ll demonstrate that you are truly invested in what you do. Rachel Koper was the most at ease and also gave advice on interacting. “Don’t tell writers what you don’t want to see in print.” Use precursors like “on the record” and “off the record” so as not to confuse each other and read embarrassing quotes of yourself later on.
When approaching a writer keep in mind who your intended audience is. Do you expect to pad your resume? For academic use? To provide institutions with info? Or maybe you’re just trying to get the word out so you can sell your wares. At this point Rachel Koper went on an Austin Chronicle-heavy info dump. I thought this was very beneficial to both artists and galleries. There are 4 general sections you need to be aware of:
- Listings- entered accordingly to the calendar
- News- compiled and written mostly by the arts editor, Robert Faires
- Critics’ Pick- written by reviewers Koper, Douberley, Moore, Cook and myself
- Features- written by any one of us but in competition for space with all other sections of the paper.
If you expect or wish to be ready for getting covered in the paper, be ready to go! Have your images at print size 300 dpi, labels and proper titles, etc.
For press releases, Lora Reynolds was cited as a gallery that consistently provides a good example. They provide the most pertinent info to get the writers in the right frame of mind before seeing the show and they provide reference for post-viewing and during the writing process.
If you are just looking to do a listing, make sure to give just the facts; Who, What, When, Where, Why, Duration, Business Hours, and maybe a short paragraph.
The details you provide after that are fodder for the hook. Because as all of the panelists pointed out, they have to pitch story ideas to their editors. All of this info is asking you to be aware of how the newspaper works. Allow for lead time. Send your press release early for the listing. If you can’t get your images done on time, its okay to hold on to them. Just make sure you get the words in on time. Having a current website is important. A quick search should yield your page and allow writers to research your work and any writing that has been published on you. Writers are less likely to say the same thing about your show as the previous review.
As Lozano’s forum is a blog on Glasstire, he admitted he is more likely to write about your show if he knows you. By that he meant if you are active in the community and are spotted at other shows, he uses that as an indicator for whether he would like to write about you. [I call that face-time, networking and what not.] Douberley countered that by saying she doesn’t want to perpetuate the paranoia that someone is keeping a head count at openings.
The conversation segued from what to know about the paper to how to interact with writers. Douberley mentioned the feedback option on The Chronicle’s website. Lozano seconded with the comments section of his blog and quickly added to maintain diplomacy.
Koper reminded everyone that you may want to target your coverage requests. As an art historian, Douberley writes differently then someone like Koper, who paints. Use whatever criticism you receive to approach your work in a new or different way. If for example, the writer did not understand a certain element, then maybe you’ll try a more specific stratagem to deal with that issue, to more clearly communicate your intention.
Returning to Douberley and Koper’s statements, interacting with a writer and making sure you communicate effectively: pretend you’re a politician. Limit your words and don’t force yourself to say something if confronted with a question that you haven’t considered before. It’s perfectly okay to ask to come back to that at another time. Given enough time, email interviews are the best situations. You can write the interviewer an answer exactly as you want it to be interpreted. You won’t be misquoted.
At this point someone asked about coverage from other media like radio and TV. But I had to step out. I didn’t hear the response and it would be great if someone told me what was said. When I cam back in someone else had asked about Glasstire. I couldn’t figure out what the question was, but Lozano stated that his writing was currently the only outlet for Austin events. He wished it wasn’t so.
How to find resources for residencies, graduate schools, and other programs to broaden your scope.
Margo Sawyer, Megan Crigger, Meredith Powell and Ron Berry gathered to present alternatives to growing your career in the gallery route.
Sawyer recounted her experience as a young artist wanting to travel and learning this advice, “Let your work travel for you.” The opportunity is out there, you just have to find the information and be ready to deal with rejection. Sawyer also pushed the idea of work-study in the form of internships, apprenticeships, mentorships and collaborations.
Crigger introduced AIPP. She spoke of previous workshops aimed at demystifying public art projects. Sessions where ideas are shared, past submissions are archived and revisited. In the works for AIPP; a city of Austin art residency and a temporary art park. [my jaw dropped, eyes wide open, did I really just hear what I just heard!?]
Powell’s presentation was brief. Art Alliance Austin tries to provide support for artists. “What, as artists, is lacking in terms of support?”
Berry thought himself to be the odd man out and described the Fuse Box Festival. What was most telling was his reason for living and working in Austin. There is a “sense of possibility.”
From an elaboration of what public art opportunities can entail, Crigger’s again mentioned the artist registry and noted that it is THE pool used for artist recommendations by the city for private developers. [Do you understand that? Even if there is no public development happening, inclusion in the registry can score you work.] From the audience, someone offered the idea that artists could have studios and mentor within AISD. Then another challenge, aimed at the university this time. But Sawyer said it best, “We are the change agents… It just takes time.”
It seemed like this session got the short-end of the stick. After three hours, the audience was understandably tired and the panelists represented organizations each with an abundant supply of information and resources. My suggestion is to contact the organizations for more info.
I’m going to sleep now. I’ll finish up this session and the fourth one tomorrow.
I’ll tell you ’bout what I sees.