Tuesday, July 26, 2011

The Art Of The Art Show

An artist prepares for an opening reception like most prepare for a job interview. It's necessary work and part of the job but once you get there can be a little uncomfortable. Especially for a show you've never been involved with before. I mean the over-arching concept behind the art show is twofold....1) to get your name out there and 2) to sell your work.  Or at least to help the gallery sell your work. So after the paintings are dry and the last nail goes into the frame and the signing and gentle handling and delivering is done you put on your business and marketing hats and help the gallery promote the show. Especially since the Memorial Art Gallery marketing folks kindly used one of my paintings to promote the Rochester-Finger Lakes Exhibition on their website and then watched as this same painting was picked up by every local newspaper as well as their online counterparts for two or three weeks leading up to the event. So goal # 1) getting my name out there? Check!

At the opening reception there were a few road blocks but this was good news for the gallery as they had an enormous turn out (over 1,700 people!) which carried with it such a high energy level that you could feel the positive buzz running rampant throughout the buildings. But for some of the artists, especially those from out of town, it was difficult to introduce ourselves to other artists and do the usual meet and greet with the patrons and members and next to impossible to stand by your work and so you do the smart thing, relax and enjoy yourself! So after we had a chance to see the rest of the work in the show we soon made a bee line for the drinks table and went off to explore the rest of the gallery since it was my first time visiting this old and large expanse of quality architecture filled with an impressive collection of art. "Five centuries of world art," that is.

We were enjoying the wandering nature that the layout promotes and worked our way to the other end of the building and impressed to find a remarkably large, historic, theater-style ball room with cathedral ceilings made of wood, a band playing up on a grand old stage and below them people were actually... dancing! I was told this used to be the student union of the University of Rochester "back in the day" and that now it was part of the gallery and used to hold weddings and other grand functions. Amazing. Then I was pulled aside to meet someone - the Gallery Director, Grant Holcomb! I was impressed how he quickly connected my name to my art and he was trying to tell me something about one of my paintings yet the music was loud and I thought I heard the words sold and boat painting but I politely nodded my head, shook his hand and off he went. After which we quickly huddled and decided to head for the Gallery Store to see if we could learn if indeed any of my work had sold.

And yes, the Gallery Store was also crowded but the people were eagerly waiting to see the show price list and did seem to be in a buying mood. At first glance my two paintings were still on the wall and neither had the universal gallery sold sign: the red dot. Then I ran into the store manager, who I met the day I dropped off the work, and asked what Grant may have been referring to and she said yes, the small pink boat painting, "Race Point" sold! So goal # 2) to sell your work? Check! Check!

You can't ask for a better ending to an opening night. Great job and a big thanks to everyone involved at the Memorial Art Gallery. But now, and between us, you must know that I head home not with the after-glow of an art show opening but instead with the thought, "I just want and need to keep working and allow the paint to show me what's next." Brush On!

 P.S. There was a wonderful example of a Fairfield Porter landscape at the gallery.  As well as a number of great 20th Century American pieces including a Hoffman, Frankenthaler, Albers and others. If you are able to visit the "MAG," as the local Roc folks call it, I highly recommend it. In the meantime, here's a link to their site: Memorial Art Gallery - Rochester, NY

Friday, July 22, 2011

Lucian Freud: 12/8/22 – 7/20/2011

Another of the world's great painters leaves us for the big studio in the sky. RIP Lucian, you will be sorely missed but the marks you leave behind have changed and will continue to change the art world for all time.

P.S. I studied Lucian's work intensely during my portrait painting master class but when I saw his work in person last Fall during Art Basel...I was mesmerized. His work is stunningly beautiful, especially his nudes (aka his nakeds) which seemed to rise above all else. His brush work, mark making and paint application spoke volumes as to his love of paint. Here are a few of his portraits to share in his honor...

For more on Lucian Freud and his work here's part 1 of his documentary found on YouTube. Brush on!

Friday, July 8, 2011

Exciting Summer of Art Shows Begins July 23rd

If you were to ask me a year ago if I'd be entering let alone being accepted into any of the upcoming biennial art shows in the Finger Lakes and Southern Tier regions of New York State I'd have just shrugged my shoulders while half listening and continuing to paint. Entering art shows wasn't on my radar screen. I mean, I had just left the corporate world and re-entered the art world that January through a chance meeting with a great group of art mentors and instructors who tossed me a new brush and pushed me head first into an entirely new medium: oils while introducing me to the work of the abstract expressionists. And there I was, just putting in my time. Painting.

After a number of ups and downs and interruptions I was able to settle in and soon increased my work ethic, consolidated my learning, focused my goals and expanded my studio to accommodate larger canvases and by the time 2011 began I literally dropped off the radar. The result produced a number of pieces that are now either sold, hanging in galleries or being accepted into some prestigious art shows. While amazingly motivational and humbling of course  I feel I'm just getting started and don't want to get ahead of myself. But it is good to be shown once again that hard work does pay off. And this time I'm also learning to take the time to enjoy the moments...and the parties!

Speaking of which, a very nice party is coming up on July 23rd in Rochester, NY. Details are below. Hope to see some of you soon! But for now, I need to get back to the studio. Brush on!

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Cy Twombly 1928 - July 5, 2011

Another great one leaves us for the big studio in the sky. 
RIP Cy. You definitely left unique marks on the world.

For more information on Cy's life and art visit Cy Twombly biography as well as

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Red, White and Blue Yellowfish

There is nothing quite like sleeping with the windows open during these early summer nights when the temperatures drop like cold sheets into the 50's. Actually, it was 49 degrees when I came down for coffee this morning.  The sun thankfully was out yet I still needed to put on a jacket before taking the dog out. As I did I looked around and noticed all the American flags jutting from many of the nearby front porches. A slight breeze lifted the corners, folding them in and around the air as the street filled with the chatter of birds. Their conversations echoing out from under the canopy of trees as I just stood still for a moment.

How easy it is now to enjoy these simple, wonderous moments the earth offers up and yet how many times I just pushed it all aside while rushing to get somewhere else while working. Especially all those mornings when I was late for work and truly ran out the door. And now, I am ashamed to admit that it still happens on occasion, when I get off track.  Maybe I'm no longer rushing out the door but I still find myself rushing ahead of myself. Be it what the day has in store, the week, the next few months. And then I remind myself that I am in control of these emotions as well as the to-do list. And I melt back into my chair almost, almost as far as my dog melds into the couch when she is in her deep sleep mode. And just breath.

It is fourth of July weekend and we have lots of family picnics, golf games, cemetery visits and back yard grilling on the to-do list. And none of these will be rushed. Like a slow cooker each glass of iced tea, each conversation, each turn of the steaks will be seeped in love and savored, met with thoughts of how much we appreciate our lives as well as this land we so love.  And we certainly will also be raising a glass to all those that made it possible and continue to make it possible. Those that served and are fighting for our freedoms, protecting our cities and towns and for those that understand what a price these people have paid and are paying for this very privilege. God keep you all safe. And thank you for fighting for our freedoms.

Happy fourth of July to you and yours!

P.S. One of my favorite dad (and later also favorite father in-law) memories was watching the old Jimmy Cagney movie, Yankee Doodle Dandy together. Thanks, Dads for serving in WWII!