Be open to unexpected opportunities (even while installing an art show)
Think that an installation day is a bad time for someone to walk into a gallery off the street? Would you be embarrassed for anyone to witness such a seemingly chaotic scene?
The amount of art sold in the midst of installation chaos is impressive. Yet to succeed with this, the people curating and installing must to be willing to reveal the scene, thus enabling the opportunity for outsiders to experience and be enticed.
In my own experience, I distinctly recall the buzzer sounding in the middle of a group exhibition install. The gallery floor was covered with bubble wrap and protective sheeting, with works of art scattered throughout the two rooms. "Typical timing for a visit," I whispered to the technician, horrified. I proceeded to charm the visitor as he pushed opened the oak door, followed by profuse apologies for the poor state of the space mid-hang. To my delight, he looked rather like a child entering a sweet shop.
The visitor proceeded to look in detail at many unwrapped pieces, and decided to buy a work on paper that had only just been delivered by the framer. (The presentation had been a bold decision on my part, and now I was in a position to report on positive results.) An upshot of the early visit was that the show started with a red dot, and we had a client for the artist and gallery.
Recently an artist told me a story that equally highlights the importance of being willing to open the door, even when one doesn’t feel ready to do so. Mid-install a lady walked into the large space, likewise being readied for a group exposition. Observing the breadth of work that included paintings, sculptures and drawings, she surmised that there must be an original piece to adorn a large wall in her new home. Surely enough, amongst the dozens of works by a handful of artists was a piece that perfectly suited the space and her taste.
So the next time that a space isn’t exactly as you want the public to see it, and you are tempted to completely block entry in entirety or at least prevent individuals from entering, stop your own prevention. Instead, open the situation (and your mindset) to possibilities. And if you’re concerned about someone tripping (or similar, owing to today’s lawsuit-tastic liability culture), walk them around, highlighting precarious spots.
With willingness to accept unexpected opportunities, even when the setting is not ideal, you might find yourself pleasantly surprised.
Related blog post: Cursed by creative perfectionism? Learn when to pull the trigger
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