Saturday, December 19, 2009

Always ask questions


a sign spotted in New Orleans reminding gallery-goers not to be intimidated

This afternoon, I received this image via email from my great friend and fellow art lover, Alex West, the co-founder of Wonderroot. He and his family are in New Orleans this weekend and, not surprisingly, he has been doing some gallery hopping this Saturday. He and I have talked repeatedly about how to make art less intimidating, which is one of the unintentional bi-products of Wonderroot's mission. By "uniting artists and community to inspire positive social change," Wonderroot also ultimately brings art to the masses and abates people's fear and intimidation surrounding the arts.

As a gallery owner, I think the most important tool a gallery-goer can possess is knowledge. AND, the only way to be more knowledgeable about things with which you are unfamiliar is to ask questions, and lots of them. If you have ever visited the upper-east side galleries in New York City (or those in Chelsea for that matter) there isn't even usually anyone present to inquire to. Often times the seemingly sterile white box galleries are just that, sterile. There is no desire to make people feel comfortable, welcome, or at-ease, and being inquisitive certainly seems out of the question (no pun intended).

In the south, things work a little bit differently. I always greet people when they walk in the door and introduce myself. I usually encourage people to walk the loop around the gallery and engage them an additional time to see if they have any questions. Gallery owners as well as managers, directors, and interns are all more than willing to answer questions and often great conversation can be started with one simple question. Asking about the artists' process, their medium, their background or even the intention of the work is a successful way to learn more about the work and why you may have been drawn to it.

I think my eagerness to inform the viewer and my outgoing nature is a product of my upbringing. As Alex actually recently pointed out, my dad is a great conversationalist, in large part due to his willingness to ask tons of questions. In turn, he is one of the most knowledgeable men I know. So, please "be inquisitive; ask questions." Do so at the galleries and in life. Although it may be intimidating at first, soon you will become a wealth of knowledge (like my dad).

12 comments:

Terry said...

One of my favorite subjects. Humanizing the experience is #1 to me. The art can be so intimidating and the artist too, unintentionally. Galleries themselves can be more or less comfortable. As a person who can't afford art I feel like I taking something that doesn't belong to me.

Anyway I think about how to make gallery hopping fun.

So last night I happened to catch collectors Herb and Dorothy on Independent Lens last night. They charmed my socks off.

The program includes interviews with several of the artists who created the difficult art that Herb and Dorothy collect including Chriso and Jeanne-Claude. The artists were very humane and very appreciate of folks who enjoyed their art.

I say, "That's the Spirit!"

Emily Amy Gallery said...

That program sounds fabulous. I need to check my listings and see when it is on...sounds like something I would love.

KathyBaker24 said...
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This Photographer's Life said...

I just found your blog, and I am so excited! I think Alex is doing a great job with Wonderoot. Great advice about asking questions. it is usually a double edge sword for visitors. A lot of times I want to know about the process behind certain pieces, but then you don't want to make the salespeople think you are really interested when you know you are not going to buy the piece. Do you have any advice about that? As an artist myself, I would love to explain the process to people even if they did not intend to buy the work, but I am not sure if it is different for a gallery owner. Can't wait to come back for another visit!

性感的我 said...

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Lila said...

I love that. It's true that if you're not in an art gallery regularly, they tend to be intimidating. I went to a fabulous art gallery in Park City, UT and they could not have been more helpful or informative. It was the best visit ever!
Lila Ferraro
Queen Bedroom Sets

彬彬 said...

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素育如劭 said...

happy to read~ thank you!........................................

elv0620isr_cadena said...

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修強 said...

Nice post ~ 3Q..............................................................

萱祥 said...

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