This article has two parts containing professional tips for Artist Curators (additional GO related articles will address Art Marketing and Community Relations). These reflections were gathered while re-purposing our working studio into a more gallery-friendly exhibit space in preparation for the GO Brooklyn Art - Open Studio weekend.
The community arts experiment GO Brooklyn Art organized by the Brooklyn Museum of Art, invited engagement from artists across the borough of Brooklyn. During open studio weekend September 8&9, on this month-iversary, more than 1700 artists, including myself, opened their studios, their creative sanctuaries, to the general art-going public.
My studio, Art Studio B50, is located in the Sunset Park neighborhood of Brooklyn, an emerging arts enclave. Within the historic Brooklyn Army Terminal in Building B, journeying past a former army boxcar train, are the chashama - Spaces to Create art studios. Inside this creative hub, amongst a maze of 50+ other artist’s studios, is Art Studio B50.
1 - THE ARTIST CURATOR - Part 1
The following numbers are used to suggest a sequence. These tips can come in handy in preparing for exhibition design, studio visits, presentations, book launches, gallery re-hanging or managing your art inventory.
1. About a week before, complete art products or bring work in progress to a comfortable pause. Resist the urge to paint up to the last minute. Leaving my Octo-Bird painting when it does “Need More” was not easy, but I shall return! You need a break from the art creation process. Allow enough time for the presentation process to flourish. Getting a moment away from the actual art creation was a necessary step. This breather helped me to fully transform my space, and decide how to best showcase my artwork.
2. Air out your area. We may be immune to our art supplies’ toxicity (oil paints, turpentine, fixative, etching acids, inks, wax, glue, rubber, chemicals, blood, sweat, and tears), but visitors may find fumes nauseating. Stopping the art creation process in advance gives time for any built up toxic fumes to disperse. Use a standing rotating fan. Visitors notice unbearable heat. When I visit galleries, I may not be as inclined to experience art if the exhibit space is too hot or too cold. With air circulation, or light air conditioning, I am happy gallery hopper. I can then relax, consider, and hopefully be inspired.
3. Dismount and set aside all artwork. All finished, in progress, and visible inventory need to be placed somewhere they can be momentarily invisible or forgotten. Get down to the bare walls and tables. Clearing the space will help you clear your mind. With a blank space, like a blank canvas, I had a fresh start. Considering the negative space and physical proportions of the artwork helped assess the optimal viewing space.
4. Clean all surfaces and give them a fresh coat of paint. Fresh newly painted walls are inspiring. The wall painting process is a meditative, almost sculptural, process. Each roller or brushstroke builds up or evens out layered textures. Invest in primer and a solid top coat house paint that is not too translucent or too viscous. Give one undercoat of primer, leaving sufficient time to dry, and then apply one or two coats of a sealant paint. While painting multiple coats I ended up with white hands, despite being careful. Creative high 5!
5. Draft a plan of attack for your physical space. As visual people, drawing a model of our space helps. Use graph paper to sketch a scale model, laying out the design of your entire floor and wall space. Include wall breaks, tables, light sources, and cut out color squares to represent artwork to make it more real. Consider your lighting quantity and angles, too much light on glossy artwork can cause blinding glare, and not enough can make artwork look dull. Using your drawn floor plan, test out several arrangements.
Stay tuned for my next post, completing the professional tips for Artist Curators, on the month-iversary of GO Brooklyn Art.
What are your tips for artist curators? Did you find these 5 tips useful so far? There are 5 more to come, what would you include? Please leave your comments, and share your experiences with exhibit design and art curation below.
Good coffee, good love, and good art to all!