Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Home again, home again, marketing’s done

Here's a partial installation shot of the Rolling Boil exhibit at the Lazy Pear Gallery in Montpelier, September 23 - November 16, 2008.

Another art lifecycle event this week: picking up and bringing back work after the conclusion of an exhibit. Making the work, loading it up and taking it somewhere, packing it up and bringing it back. Breathe in, breathe out. Jiggity-jig, jiggity-jog. A familiar ritual.

The Lazy Pear Gallery kept about a quarter of the work by volume to add to my other work on display at the gallery. There were two large pieces that came back, The Wall and Raising the Dead, as well as Rendition Vehicle. Rob, who owns the gallery (along with his wife Mary Jo), is a lovely guy. He always helps with the transportation. We packed the big work into Rob’s truck and the smaller pieces into my car and made the return trip to Barre, into the elevator, up to the third floor, and into the studio. It took about four hours with packing, transporting, and putting the work away.

One $350 piece sold during the exhibit, the turtle on wheels (see above, on the blog’s banner). It’s not uncommon, here in Vermont, to sell nothing during the run of an exhibit, so it’s interesting to think and talk about how art is priced and sold. Many people, when asking about a piece, want to know how long it took to make it, as though an hourly wage for the making (say, even a lawyer’s impressive hourly, $50 - $300, which seems extremely generous) would make sense.

In fact, it helps to think about the larger context of each individual piece to understand the business part of art. So, for example, I worked on this Rolling Boil body of work for two months and paid rent and insurance on the studio during that time. The materials were pretty much free, I’ll grant you! For this one exhibit, I spent about six hours just in packing and carting the work. Rob printed and mailed cards, hosted an opening reception and an artist talk, and kept his gallery open. He made $175 and I made $175.


ohjoyohjoy said...

Sometimes I think we artists are just a bunch of passionate volunteers waving banners for a worthy cause.

janetvanfleet said...

I'm so glad you left a comment! I have to admit (as I once said in a long-ago statement) that I feel a kind of guilty pleasure in making art. I guess I suspect that there may be some truth in the criticism of the artist's job as self-indulgent and unrelated to the REAL work of running the country, righting wrongs, cleaning up the environment, or serving soup. Let's face it: the job we do is not something that the world is crying out for in the "Help Wanted" ads.
Even so, artists continue to believe that the world needs art, and we keep cranking it out so that, like a retirement account, it will be there when (and if) the world ever encounters a need for it.