Making an Exhibition of Myself

If you hang your art on the walls of a gallery, you’d better be sure you have a thick skin. Especially if you decide to stick around and hear what folks have to say about it.

By far and away most people are overly generous in their compliments (which I don’t put much stock in), and there are a few that are just plain vicious with their comments (those I ignore as just being assholes). But the comments that really can make my blood curdle are the ones that some folks offhandedly make from time to time, that seem on the surface to be quite benign, but can be daggers in the ears of the person who made the art.

A few examples:

About a particularly misty landscape: “how do you get that blurry effect? do you not wear your glasses when you paint it?”

About a particularly dark abstract: “he must have been depressed when he painted that one”

The unavoidable: “your work reminds me of __________________ “ (fill in the blank with any other artist’s name)

Upon wanting a piece that has already sold: “Can you make me another one of these?”

My all-time favorite happened to me a few years ago when a lady brought her 7 year old son with her to an opening night exhibition of some abstract work that I had recently done. The lady was making a purchase when her son looked up at her and said at the top of his lungs in the middle of the crowded gallery, “You’re gonna buy that!!! I could make one of those for you in five minutes!”

There was kind of a hush over the room for about a second and I said just as loudly, “You’re hired!” then under my breath, but just as loudly to the mother, “Now get him out of here” which had the whole gallery laughing.

I love my work, otherwise I couldn’t make it for a living. So I am confident about the work that I put out. But hanging your art is really like standing in the middle of a room absolutely naked and inviting people scrutinize and talk about your body. Exposing your art is exposing yourself.