Top ten myths about art exhibits

10. Myth: “How much does it cost to go?” Reality: Unless it is a major museum or a specific fundraiser, art openings are free. If I put “free admission” on an invite, the numbers of attendees almost doubles. I think people assume there is an admission fee to your art show because they are used to museums and large galleries will charge, though I think they should be free as well.

9. Myth: “I went to the opening and saw the art” Reality: The opening is the worst time to look at the art. So many people and noise and distractions.

8. Myth: “There are no prices, these must not be for sale” Reality: Not everyone likes to have big red dots and dollars and cents pasted beside their work. Ask if you are really interested! The person in charge at the space has that information. Many like me prefer to not clutter or compromise a serious exhibit with that sort of stuff – it’s respect for the work and the viewer. Others won’t  agree with me.

7. Myth: “You are going to be at the gallery during the course of the show?” Reality: No. In a rental gallery space maybe yes, the artist will have to be there to babysit the space but it’s a special kind of hell to sit in a fishbowl of sorts watching people looking at your art who are aware you are watching them. Art is great because it works without the artist having to be there. Well, most art anyways. Just go see the show – it’s about the art, not getting points by being seen being there. That’s like expecting a director to be attending every screening of his film, or an architect sitting in the lobby of his new building for a month.

6. Myth: “Your work should be doing this and that and it would work/sell better.” Reality: Ok. If you can imagine art that the artist should be doing, it actually means you have a budding artist inside you and you should go home and make that series of work which seems so easy and obvious to you. Go on, git, go make it. Shoo.

5. Myth: “Don’t take pictures! Someone will steal the ideas.” Reality: This is a prevalent and persistent phobia many people and artists have. This will be an entire post on this blog soon, but in the meantime let me just say this – if you are making art that can be reproduced by someone from a photo and sold to other people, it means you are making bad art in the first place or more likely you have a overinflated and fantasy-based sense of yourself in relation to the world. If you want to get known, encourage the dissemination of your images whenever and however possible. The more accurate term for people “stealing” other people’s work is “Art History”.

4. Myth: “We use chains so as to not damage the walls.” Reality: Looks awful, impossible to hang nicely lined up and the corners of the work will damage the stupid walls anyways. If you the admin of a space that wants to show art but are that concerned about a hole or two in your drywall, then you should not be showing art, period. If you are an artist, stay away from these scenario – the artists who hang there are willing to compromise their work obviously, probably with a eye to selling.

3. Myth: “I don’t know much about art, so I won’t go.” Reality: Going and seeing art is the only way to develop a taste for it. See the oxy moron?

2. Myth: “This art is expensive.” Reality: It takes an average of  a year, probably two, to complete a series of work that is worthy of public display, and usually many many hours of applications and documenting and writing to arrange a show. Framing, invites, food and drink for the opening – if the artist is paying for it all, then it is in the thousands of dollars. Even if the artist sells a couple of works, that may just barely cover some of the costs. It is a remarkable amount of work and time, and this not fully appreciated the average person I find. There are only a very few artists who make a living making art outside of the decorative and commercial realms.

1. Myth: “I don’t get it.” Reality: When people say “I don’t get it” it is probably because they have the mistaken notion that art is entertainment, that somehow it is the responsibility of the artist to make sure that person “gets” it. Many people (if not most) expect to be pandered to, entertained and dummied down to and looking at art that requires contemplation, reflection and raises questions has somehow failed. It’s a sign of insecurity and often text about the work (in plain language) nearby on the wall goes a long way to addressing this. Otherwise, these people cannot see the benefit of the doubt about people’s intelligence that art really is and are conditioned by the lowest common denominator communications of advertising and TV shows. Good art has a strong first impression but great art has many layers to it that reveal themselves the more you look it. What is wrong with a riddle anyways?

One comment

  1. jordandolmanpaints · March 12, 2010

    I really enjoyed reading….all of it is very true

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