2004-03-04

Anatomy of a Show

How many times before had I decided that it was time to get serious about my art? But late last November I decided it was time to start looking for ways to sell it and try to make a living. There are a number of ways to do that but the most appealing to me was the idea of a show or an exposition as they call it here. This would get my paintings seen, give me something for my painting resume and perhaps get some press as well. Of course it would also create opportunities to sell. Since I already was familiar with many of the exposition halls in Cadiz it seemed the logical place.

Over a few months period, I had already done a significant amount of the groundwork ? I had a critical mass of about 15 paintings that were of a quality I found acceptable for public display. I had paid for high quality digital photos and had duplicates of a select 6 which I would later give in a ‘presentation‘ packet. I had drafted three or four artists statements and had selected my favorite. I had business cards and had updated my website with all of the paintings. I also wrote an "Artist‘s Biography" to take the place of an "Artist‘s Resume" since my resume would be essentially vacant (hasn‘t studied art, hasn‘t shown art, walks around and paints trees in countryside?). From all this, I assembled six "information" packets with copies of the 6 photos, business card, biography and artist statement.

I put on a new shirt, dusted off my best black shoes, took my packets and headed into town. I didn‘t know the names of any of the people that I would need to talk to but I did have a good idea of which places to visit since I‘ve seen the majority of the expositions in the last year. I decided to start at the larger places first and work my way down towards the smaller sites. The first was a large city owned space in the middle of a pedestrian thoroughfare. I asked at the reception for whoever planned the expos and they gave me a name of some director of culture and an address nearby. At this address I found a serious man in his late thirties at desk piled high with books and files. He was friendly up to the point he realized I was hoping to do an exposition in his space. I explained my background and handed him one of the information packets so he could peruse the photos. He looked the first and second and stopped. He asked how long I would be in Cadiz and pulled out his event schedule. He flipped one page and then another and declared 2004 to be booked. He looked at me as if to say, "What do you want me to do? It‘s all booked".

In hopes of getting any kind of help, I asked about other locations and asked for names of people in charge of those locations. He was friendly once again and gave me the names of three people and told me where I could find them. I left and had to stop to recuperate my senses a little bit. A short time later, I headed to the first of the places he had recommended. This director was busy taking down a dramatic exhibition of giant black and white faces which I had admired a few days earlier. He asked me to return in an hour or so but when I returned, his secretary said he was in a meeting and asked me to come back the next day. The next morning I went but he was out for the rest of the day. I went to the next of the people on the list but he also was out for the day (Many government officials don‘t work Fridays here). Monday I returned first to the second of the two. Jose Maria was a cheerful, intellectual forty something working as part of the office of commerce. They had an exhibition hall which although the hall itself was not the greatest, they did good marketing in the form of posters, advertising and press which I had seen a variety of times around town. The hall itself consists of two small rooms covering two floors in an 18th century building in the oldest neighborhood of Cadiz. Jose Maria took a look at my pictures and gave me some forms to take and fill out to propose my show. He also told me I spoke Spanish badly for someone that had already been 10 months in Spain. He asked when I wanted to have the show and said May was the soonest possible. I took my forms and returned them two days later and our Spanish dialog went something like this:
-OK
-OK what? You will give me the show?
-Yes. Come back after Christmas and I‘ll give you an exact date in either May or June
We will invite 150 members of the local business and cultural community. We will prepare the publicity. We will notify the press.
-And that‘s it?
-Yes.

For three weeks over Christmas I pondered if I had understood correctly. Upon my return, I promptly returned, more than half expecting him to say that he couldn‘t do the show. Instead he declared the date of my show to be June 1 to June 19. And that‘s how it all comes together. I just have to get the paintings framed and I‘ve already negotiated a deal with a frame shop. Now I am preparing paintings and materials for a second show. It will certainly be less stressful next time around."