How to Approach an Art Gallery Part II

Artist at work!

Continuing our post on how artists can best introduce themselves to art galleries, we have a lesson on how to speak the language…

1. Side Street Projects did a series of podcasts featuring curators talking about their experiences working with artists. There is a ton of material here- hours and hours of Very Important people giving advice to emerging artists. The curators are all from the fine art world so their advice may not apply as much to community artists, but it’s worth a listen just to learn the language. Go check it out (or download episodes for free on iTunes).

2. Speaking of learning the language one thing I really liked about the Side Street podcasts is that they’re great as vocabulary lessons. If you do get the attention of an art gallery, they’re going to want specific things from you, so here’s a short list of Art Gallery Words:

Artist’s Bio: This is like a resume but in a narrative format (Joe Smith is a surrealist painter from… who exhibits in Arizona, Mexico, and New York.. He has participated in group exhibitions like… He has had X solo shows at…) Unlike your artist’s statement a bio is written in 3rd person.

Didactic: Weird word, this is all the things on the wall that aren’t artwork. Artist bios, artist names, those little cards that tell you the name of each piece are all didactics.

Mixed Media: any visual art piece that falls outside of traditional categories (acrylic, oil, bronze, etc). It’s gallery short-hand for “this thing is so awesomely creative that we can’t describe it on this tiny didactic”… at least that’s what it means at Xico.

Multi-Media: Art piece that blends visual art with performance art, video, music, or other types of performing art. Often called an “installation.”

Samples: When galleries ask for samples they want photos of art pieces that represent your whole body of work. Generally, send more than 3 but less than 10 of your best pieces, that also represent who you are as an artist and where you’re going. If you can, get your pieces professionally photographed. Ask other artists and community orgs for photographer recommendations.

Submissions: Specific pieces that you would like the gallery to consider for an exhibition, usually following  a specific theme set out by the gallery. Please remember to include information about each piece because if it is accepted, the gallery staff doesn’t want to track you down to get it… I think we may need a separate post on submissions (does anyone want to write it?).