Gallery Survival Guide

February 2, 2012

As we approach the opening for our annual Little Gems show this Friday evening, we thought we would share a Gallery Survival Guide that was written by one of our newer artists,, Rebecca Finch.  She put this together this gentle list of do’s and don’ts for some friends who may have been  intimidated by the prospect of attending a gallery opening.  Rebecca does a great job de-mystifying the gallery experience.  If you know someone who has never been to a gallery or an  opening, pass this on.  Thanks, Rebecca!

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Gallery Survival Guide/ Rebecca Finch

So you think you might be attending your first gallery opening, and you’re not quite sure what to expect? Wipe the sweat from your forehead, get a tissue for your clammy hands, and breathe a deep sign of relief for we are here to help you.

Yes, sometimes a gallery is a place where people who know a lot about art, who love to drink wine and eat cheese, and who could easily purchase a wall full of expensive art, like to spout out long sophisticated words and keep the average Joe in the dust trying to figure out what just happened.

But I don’t think you will find this to be the norm at most galleries.

As you prepare for your excursion, here is a glimpse of the atmosphere you can expect to find at most gallery openings:

Rebecca Finch- Apple Solo

There might be a large group of people moving around the gallery.

 The structure is usually open house in which you may arrive at any time and leave when you wish

 Sometimes there is live music. Take it in and enjoy.

 Light refreshments are usually served.

 You may see the gallery director floating around making guests comfortable and being available for any questions or sales.

 The artists will usually be present and the well known ones will probably be in a perpetual conversation.

You will find people who genuinely love art, love to create it and love to talk about it.  That’s where you come in.  You don’t have to know a lot and you certainly don’t have to put on a front of art history knowledge.  Art is meant to be enjoyed, discussed and felt.  If you’re new to this, there’s no shame at all.  Just observe, ask questions, form your opinions, and enjoy.

There are a few common sense rules listed here but don’t be overwhelmed.  Remember that the goal is for you to enjoy yourself and not make you even more paranoid.

Gallery Etiquette:

Rebecca Finch- Bright Cloves

• Dress appropriately. Somewhere in between jeans and a T-shirt and a suit and tie is the appropriate dress for most galleries. You don’t have to be fancy, just don’t be a slob.

• Turn off your phone. This is not a place for phone calls or texting.

• Don’t head straight for the snackies. Enjoy some art first. And when you do hit the snacks remember they’re snacks. Not dinner.

• Please respect the paintings, sculpture, and glass by keeping a distance. It’s best not to touch art that you don’t own.

Refrain from making negative comments on a work of art because the artist, their friends or family could be in earshot. Share your critical comments over dessert or during the ride home.~

And here are some tips to help you make the most of your visit to a gallery:

• Step inside and take in the whole space, noting the flow of traffic and the direction you would like to proceed.

• Begin observing the art. Making note of how you feel about the artwork. Do you like it? Why or why not? See if you can find something positive to say (just in case someone asks).

• Hunt for at least one piece of art that you like the most. Or, if it’s a group show, figure out who your favorite artist is.

• Try to find out something about your favorite artist. There are usually statements or bios nearby.

Rebecca Finch -Allegory For Love

• Ask yourself why you are drawn to certain pieces of art. Analyze your gut reactions. Is it the colors? Subjects? Style?

• Do you have questions about how the art is created? The subject matter? If you feel up to it, ask the director if they can point the artist out to you so you can ask your questions. Again, artists love to talk about their craft (even the humble ones – they are passionate, not cocky).  Try not to be afraid or intimidated.

Be sure to enjoy the atmosphere, the food, opportunity to learn something about art, the live music, and above all else enjoy seeing beauty.

Hopefully this little lesson will help you on your venture into the art world. Art appreciation can be as simple as enjoying something that you’re seeing. If you don’t have plans to attend a gallery opening, then make some. It makes for a great date night accessory in the middle of dinner and dessert. Bring some friends and talk about the show over something drippy and chocolatey.


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