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Old 05-26-2005, 12:19 PM   #2
Rob Sullivan Rob Sullivan is offline
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Joined: Dec 2003
Location: Portland, ME
Posts: 197
Well, Heidi - given the caliber of your work, I'll have to say that you've just had some bad luck in contacting some pretty rude people. I'm not trying to gush to make you feel better, but your sculpture is very professional, not to mention aesthetically beautiful, and I wonder at the lack of response (and lame responses) of the places you'd contacted. Perhaps they're just daft, and they couldn't sell their way out of a wet paper bag with Andy Wyeth temperas on their walls. Or, like I said, they're just plain rude. Either way, you don't want those types repping your work.

Being a consummate Yank, I have no clue as to the market there in the Southwest save the things I see in Southwest Art Magazine. And I know the majority of that stuff is overly commercial: stereotypical cowboys 'n' Indians silliness - like everyone wants to be Frederic Remington and are doing a really poor job of it. If I may parallel the market here, we have lighthouses 'n' lobster boat silliness, subject to equally bad execution.

There is plenty of room around the stereotyped genres, though. You just have to know where the boundaries are, and which galleries are successfully testing those boundaries. I recommend visiting the gallery personally, with no intention of meeting the proprietor. Just get a feel for the place. How does the current show look? Is it hung properly/displayed well? Is it a good space for sculpture?Look at all the artists repped by that gallery and ask yourself if you would feel comfortable showing alongside them. Regardless of genre, does all the work reflect a high quality?

Sometimes, beggars can't be choosers - but you can't sell yourself short just because you're getting impatient or fed up, either. Having visited several spaces, I would then compose a letter to set up a meeting, and make it clear that you had visited, and comment specifically on their artists, good lighting, whatever. It shows them that you've taken the time to research, and you stroke their ego at the same time. That will at least elicit a polite response.

I must say that I was fortuitously blessed in my experience. I actually lived in the building where the gallery was located. They have been in business for nearly 20 years, and I already knew that they were one of 2 places in Portland that were considered top-end. I needed framing for a show out of town, and when I brought the work into the frame shop, one of the gallery owners saw it and was taken by it. After a half-hour discussion, they set me up in a 3 artist show for the fall of that season.

I grant you, it's much easier to tote medium-sized paintings around casually than to lug a bronze around. But the key is t have people see the physical work. Slides and 'folios are one thing, but the impact of the actual artwork is what sells. You can write or talk all day long - but the artwork is the hook.

This is probably not new info for you, Heidi, but I wanted to at least give you a positive spin on this weird business.

Best of luck, Heidi. I'm in your corner!
"All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given to us."
- J.R.R. Tolkien

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