Wednesday, May 9, 2007

All or Nothing

A few months ago, I actually got a very nice gallery to look at some of my work. The visit went well, there was good conversation and obvious like-mindedness. Follow up followed. The gallerist asked that I give him some more time to consider me, and to give him a call in May. I carefully calculated the date and time I would do so. May 8, 2pm. He had mentioned that Tuesdays were quiet for him, and I figured mid-afternoon was a good time.

Then he said: “I really like your work, but I can’t take on any more video at this point. If sales were better at the Chicago Art Fair with video…” So, that was it. Done. So close but no cigar. I did ask if he knew of anyone else I should contact (politely). He said he would keep it in mind.

Now what do you do? Back to square one. No leads, no gallery.

I’ve heard that some artists are curated into the Whitney Biennial, only to be taken off the list a few days before installation. I’ve heard of major commissions being canceled. It’s like almost getting an apartment. Almost doesn’t exist. You either have one or don’t.

So, are you just supposed to go back into the studio and continue?


Vito Vincent said...

F that guy and keep on plugging. The creative life is one of struggle and near misses. But the near misses make the eventual successes that much sweeter. Does that sound naive?

Molly Stevens said...

You sound confident about the inevitability of success

Mark Creegan said...

I certainly understand how you feel. Its tough to get in that clubhouse. As to where to go from here? I know that I feel bad for a few days and then I get that creative impulse and all that other stuff falls away pretty quickly. I think the internet helps in geting at least some feedback no and then.

Interesting explanation that guy gave. Seems honest. I remember the best rejection can years ago, it really helped me figure things out (without meaning too). I sent a package to a gallery I really respected, it showed some good cutting edge work. A nice letter came back with some suggested names of other galleries in the same area where my work may fit better. Well, when I looked these galleries up online I was crushed because they were not good galleries AT ALL, really conservative, decorative flower paintings and such.

But it really taught me that I was not going in the right direction- that I needed to push more to make work that could be apart of the audience I was interested in. I know your situation is different, but how wonderful that you came so close! Obviously your work is strong enough, its just that person's estimation of the market that prevented things from happening. I think I have the same issue with my ephemeral work. Sorry to type your ear/eye off.

Molly Stevens said...

Thanks a lot Mark. I appreciate your comments and enjoy reading them.

I think any feedback is good in the end. It's really the no response, no email, no return phone call that can be a killer. (We all know about that.)

More soon...

james leonard said...

Aside: I've discovered your blog via your comments on Winkleman's blog. It's a nice, quiet catalogue of the soul searching that takes place for so many of us in studio. I appreciate you sharing these fairly private thoughts.


Since moving to NYC nearly three years ago, I've enjoyed a long string of similar "always a bridesmade" successes. These have included the reassuring studio visits where a curator pores over the work for hours as well as hand written letters from fairly visible and competitive opportunities stating, "thanks for applying and PLEASE apply next year."

I don't know what to say exactly. Sometimes the "near misses" are harder to weather than the form letter flavor of rejections.

As far as your question regarding getting back into studio: Yes. It is important that you keep on keeping on. But as a sculptor and media installation artist, I can attest to how important engaging audiences and spaces is to my own practice.

I hopped to NYC from Chicago via gradschool in Michigan several years ago. In both those prior places, exhibiting as a young contemporary artist required a heavy dose of DIY spirit. This was an integral part of the smaller arts communities. I've been wondering if that sort of spirit isn't essential here as well if you are one of those artists that NEEDS to exhibit.

Anyways, chin up. Be brave! We need more brave people around!

Molly Stevens said...

James, many thanks for the supportive comments! Connecting with other artists helps loads. And, yes, exhibiting is key. I think it's really part of the process, helping your work to evolve.