Exhibitions Don’t Just Happen

Cascade in the exhibition Unmasked.

Carapace in the exhibition Unmasked.

You know all those events I tell you about all the time? All of those group exhibitions that my work gets juried into? Do you ever wonder how that happens?

First I have to find out about them. I find calls for entry in a variety of places. SNAG has a bulletin board, I subscribe to a few list emails, I search around at different places that I’ve showed at before. Sometimes I find out via word of mouth or it’s through a group I belong to. Then there was that time I contacted a gallery about what their submission guidelines were and while I didn’t get that specifically, I was invited to their annual invitational exhibition. To top it off I found that gallery through a Facebook group. Rare indeed.

That's me standing by Cascade and the award winning Akimbo

That’s me standing by Cascade and the award winning Akimbo at JAM Gallery in Malvern, PA.

Second I have to figure out if my work is a fit for the exhibition guidelines. Some group exhibition have a theme, or they want a specific medium, or they are too far away or what ever and I’m not a good fit. Other times they want metal vessels and I’m all over it.

Third I need to send them what they want for the application. This is sooooooooo much easier now. For a while there some places wanted slides, some wanted cds (I still see that occasionally) and some would use ZAPP or JAS or some other online digital submission system. One even asked for photographs. PHOTOGRAPHS! Now it’s pretty much just digital, so I thank the technology gods for that. I still need to make sure that my images fit their particular system requirements.

Fourth - They want their money! That’s right, I have to pay a jury or entry fee for EVERY exhibition (and craft shows too) that I apply to. You only see the ones I get into to. I manage to get into about 40% of what I actually apply to. These fees range anywhere from $10 – 50 each – most in the $35-50 range. Sure adds up.

That piece in the background is a watercolor by Denny Bond. I just love his work!

That piece in the background is a watercolor by Denny Bond at last year’s Art of the State exhibition.

While we’re talking about money… Once I do get accepted, then my work needs to make it to the show. That means either shipping or driving fees (as in gas for me to drive it there.) It used to be that galleries would pay return shipping on what ever didn’t sell. These days I have to pay shipping both to and from the gallery 95% of the time.

All of this just to get my work out there to you! This is why we tell you about where our art is over and over again. It takes a lot of time, effort, and money to get into these exhibitions, not to mention all the time it takes to actually make my art. That’s why I super appreciate it if you go out and see it and hopefully tell me how the show is in person. Next time you visit an exhibition, remember how hard those artists worked to get in. Then maybe write up your own review or say a few nice words to get other people to go out and see it too. We really appreciate it!

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2015 ACC Baltimore Round-Up

View from my hotel room of a clear Inner Harbor Thursday night.

View from my hotel room of a clear Inner Harbor Thursday night.

You may have heard me talking about doing a show last weekend in Baltimore. Here’s how it all went.

First, set-up was pretty easy. Our hotel was right next to the convention center (all be it on the far side from the show entrance) and the weather was cooperating with driving down to Baltimore. My neighbors also ended up being very nice and friendly with beautiful work, though we were in the same section as the flute guy and that never stopped, even after the show ended.

View Saturday morning of a FROZEN OVER Inner Harbor.

View Saturday morning of a FROZEN OVER Inner Harbor.

Friday was a little bit slow foot traffic wise and it was a really long day (10 am – 8 pm). It had nothing on Saturday though. People in the Mid-Atlantic area might realize that the middle two weekends in February have a strangely high rate of snow storms, but Maryland just never seems to be able to handle the snow in quite the same way as some other areas (I’ve lived there, I know). So it wasn’t that there was an enormous amount of snow, but the traffic was at a standstill on the beltway and the snow fell too fast to keep up with cleaning it up. Needless to say, foot traffic on Saturday was ever dwindling as the day stretched on.

Look at my pretty new booth set-up! I got compliments on this as well as my art!

Look at my pretty new booth set-up! I got compliments on this as well as my art!

Sunday we had a warm-ish day and way more people made it out, but there still weren’t many buyers. Did I make my sales goal? No. Did I even come close? No. Will I try the show again? Yes. With these big shows it takes a couple tries to get people to notice you plus the bad weather distorted the actuality of the show’s worthiness. Yes, I took a big hit, but I did get a lot of exposure, good comments from people, and I met a few other metalsmiths who had nice things to say about my work and lots of free, good advice!

I do want to thank all my people who made it out to the show and stopped by to say hi. Your support means so much to me! It was an honor being able to stand amongst so many of the great craftsmen of our time, people who I see on the pages of magazines, people who I admire. So I’ll just work even harder this year to make work worthy of being shown with theirs and next year, I hope to see you there cheering me on!

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By Any Other Name…

Sometimes the names of my pieces come to me immediately, other times I have to work to find the right title.

Ways I Name My Art

    • Fragmented is one that named itself, though I did try to change it, but it just really wanted that name ©2015 nickel, brass, copper 13.5" x 13.5" x 3.75" $1550.00

      Fragmented is one that named itself, though I did try to change it, but it just really wanted that name ©2015 WTEK nickel, brass, copper 13.5″ x 13.5″ x 3.75″ $1550.00

      Untitled or Collar VII – I have in the past done the cop-out name and just left it untitled. I pretty much never name my cuffs and many of my earrings have the name of a series, but not individual pieces

    • It Names Itself – Some pieces are designed around a name (my Elements necklaces for example) or the name pops into my head as I’m designing or working on the piece
Carapace ©2014 copper, brass 5 1/2"h x 6"w x 8"d $1825.00

Hmm, it’s like a shell, what’s a fancier term for that? Carapace ©2014 WTEK copper, brass 5 1/2″h x 6″w x 8″d $1825.00

  • It’s Crowdsourced – Yes, I do turn to you sometimes to get ideas for what to call a piece. This is how I named Alluvial Moon and the necklaces named after the moons of Jupiter. Hmm, I see a theme there…
  • The Hardest Way – With most of my vessels and wall pieces, I am driven by the design and the process and just a vague notion of what to name a piece. This is where I get super complicated and move back & forth between the thesaurus and dictionary trying to get just the right feel to the name. I’ll seize on some visual clue or an idea I thought of while making the piece and work toward a poetic and fitting title. This is how Carapace, Akimbo, and Vortex were all named.
  • You know that's slightly chicken-y Akimbo ©2012 WTEK bronze, nickel, brass

    You know that’s slightly chicken-y Akimbo ©2012 WTEK bronze, nickel, brass

    The Secret Silly Name – Most of the unnamed pieces actually have a name. Something silly or too on the nose that I use when thinking about it to myself. Akimbo was “chicken,” Stepping Stones was “strips,” I have a ring that is “bowtie,” etc. I like to give a bit of gravity to my pieces and names have power, so I tend to find something better than these.

Do you like the names I give my pieces? How would you name them? How do you name your art?

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