An open studio and house party are alternative ways to share and sell art. The artist communicates directly with the collector or visitor, creating a scenario where stories can be shared and feedback absorbed in an immediate fashion.
I have done several of these events in the past weeks, two in my studio and one at my biggest collector’s apartment in NYC. It is my pleasure to share my work with collectors, friends, and newcomers in this one-on-one manner.
In my studio I try to have as much work out and visible as possible, so the look is quite crowded. When someone is considering a particular piece, I clear a spot for it on my easel, where the light is the best, for better viewing. Despite the fact that I have many pieces to choose from at these events, I often hear requests for something specific (size, color, or locale of imagery) that I might not have on hand. For this reason, I keep my laptop handy with my files so that I can show folks other available work that is out in my galleries, and either send them to see the piece there, if geographically possible, or find another way for them to check it out in person.
The very best way to make a decision between pieces is to bring, or have my gallery bring, a small grouping of work to the collector’s home. One look at the right piece on the wall in question is a great solution to any dithering.
Arranging my studio or my host’s apartment with all of my work is a favorite part of the process (this is true of all the good galleriests that I know, as well). Not all paintings of mine go with each other well, either due to color or feel of the piece, and of course there are different sized walls, easels, and shelves to consider, so getting it right is a time-consuming process involving a good deal of trial and error.
When folks make an appointment privately to come to my studio they encounter a different situation—work on the walls and stacked on the floor, works-in-progress on the easels, and tables covered with tools of the trade. This is fun in a different way, as I pull work out from stacks and flat files, paying close attention to their description of what they have in mind. I will be doing more of this than usual in the upcoming months, since I recently created a program called “Artists in Their Studios” through our local four-star inn, the Emerson Resort and Spa.
For the artist, hosting these visits hones communication skills, helping to create the habit of talking about the work with ease, fluency, and pleasure. And for the collector or visitor, a chance to sit for a bit, view the body of work in a leisurely way, ask questions, and browse the various articles about and photos of my paintings in magazines, books, and newspapers that I have accumulated.
Moving on to the home party—really a pop-up show—that I did at my biggest collector’s apartment (she owns 35 pieces!). I partnered with my galleriest Emily, of Asher Neiman Gallery. We took all the collector’s work (of mine) off of the walls, and put up new work of mine, 34 pieces. She did not—understandably—want additional nail holes in her walls, so we needed to be creative to get as much onto the walls as possible.
You will see many of the same pieces that were in my studio, but looking quite different in a modern apartment. Once again, doing the set-up was thoroughly entertaining, and over the next several days we enjoyed the interaction with our visitors, who came from her mailing list and mine.
There is another way to do a home party, where the host is present and invites friends and acquaintances who love art. The fun for them is in seeing their home transformed, and often they will want to keep a piece or two for themselves.
These events are a tremendous amount of work to organize and execute, so I am ready to be back in my studio as the working artist.