Jan 7th ALP exhibit – debriefed!

First of all, I received my art school education in Montreal and used a variety of French words to describe many normal activities in the art process – such as “vernissage”. Vernissage is a much sexier and elegant way to describe an opening reception than, well, “opening reception”. The word literally translates to “varnishing day” and harkens back to the practice of oil painting; it would take many months for the linseed oil in the paint to dry enough to be able to apply a final coat of varnish on a painting that probably took many months, if not years, to complete. So when it was time, it was kind of a big deal so you would invite your friends, frenemies, supporters and critics over for some drinks, music and a good time would be had by all as you applied the final coat of varnish.

Now that I am based here in Toronto and organizing my first exhibit, I could not help but notice that this word “vernissage” caused much puzzlement amongst many of the locals. So I used plainer language but to me “opening reception” is more formal and quiet, which is cool, and “vernissage” is more of a party and an event.

Varnishing Day at the Royal Academy

A lively party full of hipsters at a varnishing day ( via http://www.nationalacademy.org )

The Art Listing Professional opening reception was an awesome vernissage. Over one hundred and fifty people in total stopped by CulturShoc in Toronto’s gallery district of Queen W and Dufferin and I was super-pleased that I did not even recognize half of these fine folks – a testament to the potential of social media for arts and culture events.

You see, the big thing with this event was that I had managed to slip into a spot at a downtown gallery that became available only a month before. Plus, I have no budget but my time and expertise and knowing how to say “pretty please” in a pretty and pleasing manner. Add to this the holidays being right in the middle and I was presented with a interesting set of challenges to organize and market this event. So the buzz and invites were 100% digital, and 100% social media distributed.  I know that a print component would increase the numbers, but in a professional interest I wanted to study just how well a social media campaign would work. Fairly well, but there is much work left to be done in marketing for the rest of the exhibit run – my thinking on this is a series of posts with each individual work and bio of the artist and see how that works. Tomorrow, I post pictures and videos from the event. A bit late, as it should be posted a few days afterwards in good “after-event marketing” practice but of course I got a cold flu right afterwards as tends to happen.

a crowd watching guest b with awe and wonderment

A lively party full of hipsters at a varnishing day.

So in lieu of a budget, I have many thanks to make. Thanks Dana and Val for all the hard work, the bricks and mortar, the opportunity and taking care of the bar. Glad I managed to introduce many new people to your great store and space. Thanks Tony and Cristina (of Guerilla Magazine fame) for driving down from Ottawa.  Thank you Trevor and Lauren for coming down from the valley as well (for those of you in Europe, this is actually a really long five-hour drive). Andreanne and Fabien traveled from Montreal and Paris – thank you.

Thanks Jen and Casey and Casey’s Mom for making and bringing food. Thanks to Charles for his interest in Art List Professional and contributing his work. Thanks to Sean for walking his large in, thanks Marinko for finding the time to participate and thanks Ryan for keeping it surreal, and thanks of course to Casey for her half of the exhibit and all the ooo’s and ahhh’s provoked.

Big thanks to Rob O’Flanagan and Trevor Laalo for the spoken word performances – simply brilliant and there is still quite a buzz about it now. More when i post images and video from their performances.

One comment

  1. Charles Hackbarth · January 15, 2010

    It was very interesting as a Toronto based artist to go to an event and also not know anyone. Many of the people I met were from Ottawa and Montreal (participating artists). Chris, you did a bang up job pulling this together. Welcome to Toronto. When I first started connecting with ALP on Facebook I was sure it was based out of New York or LA or some other international location because the flow of work hailed from across the globe. What a thrill to learn that it all flowed through a axis so close to home. Kudos.

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