Tuesday, March 29, 2011

On-Site at Arte Americas

Miami boasts of large international art fairs, and this weekend the city hosted the Arte Americas fair -- the premier fair of Latin American art. The event's website states that "hundreds of emerging artists and renowned masters" will be shown via participating galleries from Latin America.

Sometimes it's good to have no expectations, therefore you'll be encouraged with even small surprises and have no tower to crumble with disappointments. I thought I went in to Arte Americas with no expectations, but it seems I did have at least one -- I expected crowds.

When I arrived at about 12:30pm on the opening day I expected to have trouble finding parking and to see large masses entering the exhibit hall and browsing the displays, especially since it's free to enter between 12-2pm. With the lack of attendance, I worried if I was in the right place -- where was everyone?? There were only handfuls of people here and there. Was this problem due to lack of advertising or lack of interest? I'm not sure.

Upon entering, I began my journey down the rows of cubicle-like gallery displays, starting in the middle. Just as the website stated, I did find a mix of established and emerging artists, but noticed that a good many of the galleries were from Miami and were not international. How do these galleries choose which artists to display at Arte America? If it's meant to be a fair of Latin American art, I suppose the Miami galleries must have discriminated in some way in order to only show artists of Latin American descent. I'm not entirely sure that's fair. But I'm also not entirely sure that's what they did. ;)

When viewing art at these sort of events, I often feel watched. Gallery owners, art dealers, and even some of the artists are politely stationed in their respective posts, waiting for you to enter and perhaps make a purchase. I found I enjoyed when one of these such people would approach me and discuss the art or give me an informational brochure. I didn't enjoy the ones who just sat and watched my movements, averting their eyes if I glanced their way. I believe it's important to engage potential customers to get him/her excited about the art. Half the fun of art is trying to figure it out, getting inside the maker's head -- much of which can be done with simple visual dialogue between looker and artwork, but sometimes it's helpful to speak to someone too.

Overall I found that the quality of craftsmanship was very good in the artworks presented, but the sort of art that takes risks wasn't much available at Arte America. Here are a few photos from the day:

Fabio Mesa's paintings, with electrical lighting placed behind each canvas to shine through unpainted portions

Ana Ocha with her sculptural wall piece that can be installed according to the lighting per site

Lack of crowds at Arte America on March 25, 2011

Miguel Florido's trompe l'oeil-style painting of a crumpled paper

Visitor inspecting Roberto Picco's miniature displays

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Hoax, Ha-ha, or High Art?

Anyone who works in any gallery, art center, museum, art publication, or other art-related service knows the large quantities of unsolicited emails and letters sent by unabashed, self-promoting artists. Usually, they go something like this:
"I'm a [really great or new] artist who is looking for gallery representation. I make [paintings, sculptures, photographs, etc.] that are especially eye-catching and brilliant. If you're interested in seeing my work, please visit my website at [http://artist'swebsite]. [List of resume achievements.] [List of websites or publications.] Have a nice day!"
Just in case you were considering sending such an email, save yourself the time and energy. These sort of emails almost always go directly to the "trash" folder. Why? There are usually obvious phrases that point to the fact that this was a copy and paste letter, often showing the artist didn't even bother to see what kind of business he/she is sending the letter to. For example, why would you send a letter asking for "gallery representation" to a magazine? Well, we get them all the time and they always go to the trash folder.

Today, however, I received the most bizarre of such letters. Without sharing the artist's name or identifying details, here is what it says (all misspellings and grammar faults copied directly from original email):

"Dear: Director
I emailed you a copy of the work but my will has just been finished and I decided to send you a brief idea do what it states I need museum to find out I am looking for a home and I need help showing the work. last page of my web is a link to ovation tv, there is a photo and video of the work I am looking for home in a permanent collection. The work is titled [title of artwork]. It is a sarcophagus.

I look forward to hearing from you.

[artist's name]
[artist's website]

The work is titled [title of artwork]. It is a sarcophagus and this unique-shaped Glass House covered in jewelry with a wooden base covered in glass flowers will eventually contain the ashes of my husband, our dog, and me. Not only will this be one of my works of art but it will contain the artist.

My will also states that I bequeath the sum of Fifty Thousand Dollars to the museum for maintain it. And if taken, the museum is entitled to all my art work upon my death to auction of to raise money for the museum. (If they wish)"
As I read the email I nearly laughed aloud! First, why send this to Visual Overture Magazine? We're not a museum and we don't publish "news" articles. Second, is this a joke? Is someone seriously trying to sell their future dead body's ashes and that of their husband's and dog's? Third, this artist is offering money for the upkeep of their art and offering all their art for the museum to keep or sale for free?? Wow.

I thought this must be some kind of scam, but turns out the artist's website is legitimate and appears to be operated by a real person. But, at the same time, this email sounds so suspicious for a variety of reason, it definitely makes me question its validity. So, to solve this mystery, let's look at the points that make it fit into one of three categories -- "Hoax," "Ha-ha," or "High-Art."

  • Terrible English and writing skills (points to the possibility of a "Nigeria Scam")
  • Offering a large sum of money ($50,000), also points to a "Nigeria Scam" scenario
  • Offering all of entire life's artwork for free (why?)
  • Artist said they emailed me a copy of the work, but this is the first time I've heard of or seen this
Ha-ha (joke)
  • Terrible English and writing skills (poorly written on purpose for laughs)
  • Sale of ashes of three future dead beings
  • Artwork isn't particularly interesting or well-crafted (after looking on website)
  • Cheesy music on video explaining artwork with just a slideshow of the artwork from different angles over and over again
High Art
  • Terrible English and writing skills (may be sincerely written, not to say that artists have bad English or writing skills)
  • Unique idea to sell art with actual artist included as part of the art (albeit, a dead artist)
  • Lists resume achievements, indicating an artist who is serious about their career
What do you think? Which of the three is it -- hoax, ha-ha, or high art? I'd love some feedback on this one!! :)

    Wednesday, March 9, 2011

    On-site at PULSE, The Armory Show, and Moving Image

    Early March is a big deal in New York, as Manhattan comes alive with what's now being referred to as "Armory Week." Visual Overture Magazine writer Joyce Dade attended three of this year's primary events -- PULSE, Moving Image, and the Armory Show. 

    When asked to share the best thing about each event, her responses were:
    • Armory Show - "The ambiance, volume and diversity of magnificent art, sculpture and photography."
    • PULSE - "Excellent lighting for the most part, lovely art work and some very pleasant exhibitors."
    • Moving Image - "I liked the darkened mood inside. The lighting opportunities there made for a nice photo opportunity, capturing images of others watching video had a certain peaceful and tolerant echo that I enjoyed."
    While her full article with more praise and serious critique will be available in the Summer 2011 issue of Visual Overture Magazine, here are a few pictures from her time at the events (all photos copyright A. Joyce Dade):

    Armory Show 2011 - Painting and People

    Armory Show 2011 - Crowds
    PULSE Art Fair 2011 - Benrimon Gallery's Booth (Trey Speegle painting in background)
    PULSE Art Fair 2011 - Sienna Patti, Director of Sienna Gallery (Lauren Fensterstock's sculpture in foreground)
    Moving Image 2011 - Art Fair of Video/Moving Art

    Friday, March 4, 2011

    Artist Opportunities -- Especially for Emerging Artists

    There are lots of opportunities out there for every kind of visual art. Which ones are best for emerging artists? Sometimes it can be quite confusing. We've tried to help reduce the confusion by offering a listing of various kinds of opportunities specially geared for or accepting of emerging artists. Check out the calls for artists listing here>>

    We do this by personally hand-selecting and reviewing hundreds of opportunities each month. We update the listing about once a week and we only post those that we think an emerging artist may have a good chance at being accepted for. These include contests, juried exhibitions, publication opportunities, artist-in-residence programs, festivals, and more. We scour some of the more elusive sites that may not have the advertising budget to promote in Art Calendar or other large directories that charge a fee for listing. Because we do this, you'll find opportunities here that you may not easily find otherwise.

    Not sure if an opportunity is a good fit for you? Do a little research to help you decide. Read reviews of previous exhibits or participants. Be bold, and email those artists to find out answers to your questions. Be even bolder and ask the venue itself! You may be surprised that you'll get a nice response, or you may get no response at all. This should be part of your judging criterion for participation. If a venue has no time to answer your question, you will probably not enjoy working with them even if they accept you for the show.

    Best wishes for your career! And remember, it's ok if you're not accepted for every opportunity. Galleries and other venues do have limited space and specific goals which your art may simply not fit at this time. Keep on trying, with research and a good professional attitude and practice you will find the right spaces for your work!