Saturday, April 10, 2010


  • When I first announced to someone I would be in Toronto for a couple of month they suggested I would be "on sabbatical", thereby naming my time away. Wikipedia provides definitions of types of sabbaticals, including some with biblical roots in Genesis 2:2-3 in which God rested after creating the universe. In modern terms, one usually takes a sabbatical to fulfill a goal. For example, in my case it was to gain understanding of how things worked in the Toronto visual art network of players, galleries, publications and media; the ultimate goal being increased visibility for my art. The following are a few things I learned.
  • Learn the rules, but intelligently play your own game. During the initial rounds to a few galleries, assistants suggested that the owner, over time, would watch and become aware of an artist's work; and to send exhibition invitations to the gallery's "" email addresses. Given the combination of being at a mid-career level and at a mature stage in life, I knew this waiting-game approach wasn't going to be practical for me.
  • Working within a two-month time-frame facilitated a certain efficiency in quickly reviewing, selecting and acting on viable options. When one idea didn't work out, I quickly moved-on, picking up on other related opportunities as they were presented. 
  • Maintaining communications with new contacts that can't help you in one way can often be helpful in another instance if you have developed a rapport.
  • Visibility depends upon taking action.
  • If they won't give you an exhibition, stage your own so there 's at least a starting point for discussion and visibility. 
  • Study the scene by attending exhibitions, artist lectures, art auctions, curatorial clinics and networking with the players.
  • Having a very clear understanding about your art and its aesthetic location imbues confidence, and a thick skin. Know why what you are doing is "important".
  • The easiest artists for a dealer to work with are "dead artists", and it would seem the more established older galleries are at this stage and with this kind of reliable clientele.
  • There are millions of people claiming to be "art consultants". I've learned most don't know as much as I do about art, nor do they have the clientele they claim. One such consultant emailed interest in specific works requesting prices, not stating his location and listed a website that was "under construction". Beware of these kinds of so called art consultants who become defensive when you ask for their credentials. With our world-wide internet visibility, artists are vulnerable to art scams.
  • Its prudent business practice to ask third-party consultants/dealers for their credentials when they are suggesting a possible business relationship. Follow-up on their references.
  • The unexpected is inevitable, so be mentally prepared. While the Mount Sinai emergency wrapped my broke and swollen right-hand in a splint, I made the decision to grow from my experience. This meant overriding any fears of rejections and asking for help with staging the upcoming exhibition at Reference Project gallery space. It was also heartening when people came forward without my having to ask.
  • Sometimes people can be presumptuous about who I am based on my appearance, and say the rudest things. When in a foreign land, dependent on the good will of people, I've learned to just suck-it-up. Probably should do more of this at home too.

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