Last Friday’s guest lecturer was a welcome change: she treated us all as adult artists; she runs a gallery for emerging and mid-career artists and knows how such galleries (and more established ones) operate; and she spent the whole lecture passing on useful stuff in a straightforward, low-ego way. I think she did it so well that no further self-promotion was needed: most of us there would happily go with Heather Darcy Bhandari and Mixed Greens Gallery if they’d have us.
I first heard Heather last year in one of the UMass NYPOP (New York Professional Outreach Program) sessions organized by our professor, artist Jerry Kearns. One point that she made then really resonated with me: an art gallery is just a store. Okay, a specialized one, with its own set of protocols, but a store nevertheless. It exists to sell stuff to people with money. Different stores have different clienteles. It’s all about matching what the store sells with the clientele each store has.
For the artist, this means finding a gallery in which your work fits with the gallery’s market position and its other offerings, instead of ‘shotgunning’ all galleries in the blind hope of getting taken on. And with fewer galleries accepting submissions from non-represented artists, that’s getting harder to do anyway.
This year Heather gave us ten tips for ‘making it’. Most important, is to get clear what you mean by ‘making it’ – it turns out that there is an art world outside of New York, and getting taken on by a commercial NYC gallery may be less financially (and emotionally) rewarding than selling well in your local/regional community (but there’s always the ego thing to deal with, as all our speakers have mentioned…).
Heather also stressed the need to keep making work until you’ve got a body of it that you’re happy to show. I guess she’s given me some homework to do. Back to the studio, chaps.