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Perspectives, Issue #005-- Terry Johnson
May 22, 2008

"Perspectives" - Approaching Galleries/Terry Johnson

The sun is warm; industrious sunbirds, keeping close to the protection of verandahs and working in pairs, busily build their nests -

Your haiku of the month -

flying up and down
with grass and fluffy bits
no rest, this sun bird

Frieda van Aller

Approaching galleries

Last month I wrote about the the artist as a business person and of the importance of keeping records.

Now you need to sell the fabulous work that you have created. You may choose to open your studio to the public, to use the internet to generate sales or attend art fairs. Most artists choose to use the gallery system to exhibit their work and generate sales.

“I’m an artist!”

These words, delivered with supreme confidence, as the person swept through the entrance of our gallery of fine art, would sometimes be enough to make me want to run and hide. But there was no escape.

Almost invariably, conversations which started this way signalled that the persons involved had a very inflated idea of their own worth.

Suggestions that they might make an appointment for me to assess their artwork would fall on deaf ears and I would have to endure long monologues, which revolved around their brilliance and my good fortune to be offered their work to display.

The fact that we were not accepting new artists apparently meant nothing. “I’ll just go and get some paintings out of my car”, they would say.

Well, no, not a good idea. “ Perhaps just show me your portfolio?”

“ Portfolio? What’s that? CV? Oh, no, I can’t be bothered with all that rubbish!”

Now I know that I should have said, “Please don’t, I’m far too busy”, but I would weakly agree.

Not wishing to hurt anyone’s feelings, however irritating their lack of courtesy may have been, I would usually try to find something good to say about the work, some word of encouragement as the boring conversation dragged to its conclusion.

This article is about dealing with galleries but I have chosen to first show you what not to do.

Here’s a different scenario:

The phone rings.

“Good morning,” says the polite but friendly voice. “My name is Richard Smartfellow. I am a painter of semi-abstract landscape paintings, which should be a good “fit” with the work that you currently exhibit. Would it be possible to make an appointment to come and discuss the work in case you may be interested in exhibiting it at some time in the future?”

Mr Smartfellow has done his homework. He knows the type of work that the gallery exhibits. He realises that my time is valuable, so he will help himself by arranging a situation where he can discuss his current work in a professional atmosphere. He doesn’t pressure me – after all, I am under no obligation to agree to display his work.

He will come to the meeting on time, suitably dressed. He will bring his up-to-date portfolio, which will include his curriculum vitae and photographs of past work, including sketches and ideas showing development of the current body of work.

No doubt we will have an interesting discussion leading to ideas of how his work may be marketed in the context of our gallery. Perhaps a formal agreement will be reached at a later stage or he may wish to join our artist-in-residence programme.

His positive approach has been rewarding for us both.

Next month: Consigning work to a gallery.

Terry Johnson

The Go Troppo Arts Festival begins to take shape, with South Australian painter, Terry Johnson, billed as Artist-in-Residence for the duration of the festival.

Terry’s work brings a freshness and a sense of joy to his subjects, usually with a touch of fantasy – which seems just right for an arts festival named Go Troppo!

This week Terry was very excited to take out the first prize in the Penola Coonawarra Arts Festival John Shaw Neilson Acquisitive Art Award. His winning painting paid tribute to poet, John Neilson’s delight in colour -

“Which colours do you love the best?
Which of the colours above the rest?”

Using a bright palette Terry created a positive and festive atmosphere, drenching the canvas with colour as he portrayed the stone houses nestled into the environment amongst the whispering trees and chattering cockies awaiting the poet who will soon walk down the hill and into this town.

“I’ll ask the birds that be on the road
I dream (though it may not be)
That the eldest song was a forest thought
And the singer was a tree”

Congratulations, Terry!

Terry has also been selected as one of seventeen artists to work with indigenous elders and geologists in the artistic interpretation of what will be the largest UNESCO Geopark in the world and the first one for Australia – Kanawinka Geopark, the “Land of Tomorrow”.

More about Terry Johnson
More tropical haikus by Frieda

Go Troppo Arts Festival

Please feel free to forward this e-newsletter to friends if you think that they would enjoy it.

Until next time


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