Wednesday, November 12, 2014

GALLERY DAZE... OR, FINALLY OUT OF SOLITARY... OR, THE ART OF HERDING CATS


Since joining Archway Gallery (2305 Dunlavy, in the Montrose area of Houston) a few months ago, I've had to not exactly reinvent myself; however, I've brushed the cobwebs off my public persona and shoved that dust-free entity into the world, like a squalling newborn, or like falling through the trapdoor of a gallows. Forgive the drama, it has been a bit of a shock. Forge on fearless-reader to find out whywhy oh whythis normally semi-reclusive Keyboard-Chimp and Paint-Slinger would be working hours on end in a public venue, selflessly flogging the art of not just Moi, but of my peers. 

*raises eyebrows questioningly*

The lowdown: Archway Gallery is a unicorn in the art gallery worldit's a cooperative. What the...?! How is this possible I asked on my first encounter? After all, everyone knows that artists are pretty much like cats: highly independent and territorial, ego-heavy to parlay our internal visions into objects, odd and eccentric (no explanation required), sometimes whackadoodle since we are known for cutting off our ears, decidedly introspective, skittish, and often not very accountable, as in, a clock, a calendar, wha?..., and heavily right-brain, often lacking in logic and financial smarts.

 

So how can a gallery comprised of 32 cats, erm, I mean artists, not just survive but thrive?
Somehow it does work, and fantastically well. The benefits on both sides of the cash register are stunning, with far lower markups than the usual 50% charged by commercial galleries translating to more $$$ for the creator of the piece and lower prices for the buyer. Yippee!
Shown at Archway in September 2014: Reclining Nude, Prismacolor on paper.
Here are the basics... There are 32 members. We all pay a monthly fee, like rent, which covers our overhead costs and certain standard art show related expenses. There are also talented alpha cat-herders and all issues get voted on by membership. Each month we have an equal amount of wall space to hang our artwork. Two members are curators and they enforce hanging rules as well as make suggestions for combinations of color palette and size relationships plus hanging height and labeling. 
At the front of the gallery is a large self-contained space which hosts a solo show each month. This space is rotated through the members. This month's solo show is of watercolors by Shirl Riccetti. 
Shirl Riccetti: A watercolor from her current solo show at Archway Gallery

Shameless self-promotion alert!... My solo show will be in February 2015 and will feature original art and giclee prints from my children's book art past and present.

Members also have other gallery-related jobs, such as managing the website, posting on Facebook, building displays, managing evening rentals of the gallery, marketing, and everyone has "floortime", namely each member puts in eight hours in the gallery selling art each month. 



 Which brings me full circle to my public persona. On my gallery days I can no longer display any lingering freelance funk--none of that scruffy, bed-head hair askew, bleary-eyed, smeared-makeup-that-lasted-through-the-night. I can no longer be a morning hag with coffee in hand, staring down email and online-bill-paying on the blind-eyed mocking monitor, or gazing upon the art materials, like that 2-ton paint brush until inspiration or whatever it is hits me... and I get tucked into some creative endeavor or other.


Nope, my gallery days are different than the isolated studio days. I'm a pro, all pulled together and polished up. It's good for me to throw off the bonds of solitary where there have been many days that were completely non-verbal (which mainly is fine with me but can grow tedious in time). But now the community of like-minded folks that is Archway and the perfectly sporadic gallery days are truly a gift; orderly and yet quirky, as I unravel the intentions, desires, needs of whoever walks through the gallery's door or phones Archway hunting for a desired elusive piece--of sculpture, painting or photography that touches them.



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Cheers
Sheila