invites all sculptors to participate in its XX Sculpture Symposium at open
air. The symposium will have a duration of 18 days, from the 25 of September to
the 12 October 2009. The material to be
carved will be the granite, in any existing typology in Galizia, provided that
its acquisition will be possible for the organization. The dimensions of the block to be used are
limited to a maximum of 1.80 x 1.80 x 0.50 meters, 1´62 m3s or similar
dimensions inside this given volume of reference. The theme will be free. The granite cannot be
painted or covered with any other material. But, if in the work it is initially
planned the combination of the granite with another material like solid metal
or wood, it will be the organization that on the basis of its technical and
economical possibilities will decide the feasibility of the work. Every participant will use his/her own
utensils. The organization will furnish
lacing to the compressor, electricity, maintenance of chisels. A diamond disk will be delivered to every
participating artist for the realization of the work. If a sculptural proposal consists in a
parallelepiped, or if for its execution it is essential this figure, the
organization will facilitate four cuts to the stone, indicated by the artist in
his/her proposal. In other cases, the
same number of cuts will be facilitated to the blocks to give the same
opportunities to all the artists, if these cuts will be technically and
economically possible for the organization. The organization will pay the travel expenses,
food and lodging for the participating artist. The prizes will be:
Last month we talked about Luis Jimenez's controversial BLUE MUSTANG sculpture at Denver International Airport. Our reader poll was split right down the middle between the sculpture's supporters and detractors, which just goes to show you how divided opinions can be when it comes to public art. Thanks to all who participated!
This month, we'll talk about a piece of public art that's still in the development stages. If you've been to Denver in the last couple years, you've no doubt seen Lawrence Argent's I SEE WHAT YOU MEAN, a forty-foot-tall blue bear peering in the windows of the city's convention center. After it was installed, public opinion was mixed about the piece, but now that it's been in place for a couple years, the people of the city seem to have grown to appreciate it.
Argent's latest project is over a new piece he's been commissioned to complete for a new terminal in Sacramento's airport, scheduled to be completed in 2011. The proposed piece is another larger-than-life, brightly colored animal -- this time a bunny leaping toward a vast, granite suitcase. The fifty-foot rabbit, which will appear to be leaping through the walls of the airport towards the baggage claim where a large granite suitcase awaits him, comes with an $800,000 price tag -- a price that has been difficult for residents to stomach in a city that's been hit hard by economic collapse. Many residents in the city have openly wondered why the county is spending so much money for a giant bunny when money is so scarce in the area.
Argent says that the bunny represents, among other things, the leap we all take when we travel, opening ourselves up to the unknown. Airport officials believe Argent's piece will do exactly what public art should do -- get people to think and talk about art, while adding a little whimsy to the airport. Their support, however, hasn't silenced some critics, who believe the money would be better spent hiring more police officers or providing other essential services. Though the money for the project comes from airport fees and not taxpayers, some still believe it should be used to help with a failing economy.
What do you think? Is the red bunny worth the cost to the city? Is the airport the right setting for the piece? Does Sacramento deserve props for their continued focus on the arts, or would the money be better spent elsewhere given the state of the city's economy?
A little over a year ago, a very large, very blue rearing mustang, aptly called BLUE MUSTANG, was installed on the road approaching Denver International Airport. During its construction, BLUE MUSTANG killed its creator, Luis Jimenez, when a large piece of the thirty-two-foot-tall sculpture fell on him, severing an artery in his leg. At night, the massive steed's eyes glow red, and are visible from miles away. This, combined with it's emaciated figure and it's killer reputation, has sparked a debate among the citizens of Denver about what they want out of the city's public art. The debate was well summarized in a New York Times article published in March.
As a Denver native, I don't love that this is the first piece of art that most visitors will see in Denver, but I also think the debate has gotten too inflammatory and negative. So what's your opinion? Do you love Jimenez's the low-brow, urban style or do you think it's too over the top for a municipal art program?
My friend Darrell Laurant is a veteran journalist and freelance writer who lives in
Lynchburg, VA. For the last five years, he has been nurturing an international
freelance writers' group called The Writers' Bridge. For the
last thirty-six years, he has been married to Gail, an artist, whose influence has
broadened his interest in all things creative.
Darrell recently sent this essay to the members of The Writer's Bridge, but it seems to me that it has a great deal to offer to artists as well. He has graciously allowed me to share his words of wisdom here. Thanks, Darrell!
1. KNOW YOURSELF. What kind of writer are you? Do you have the soul of a poet or
the steel-trap mind of a techie? What interests you? What gets you emotional?
What do you know a lot about? What experiences have you had that might benefit
others? Are you a slow or fast writer? Experienced or new? Once you realize
these things about yourself, you'll know in which direction you should proceed
in your writing career.
2. BE YOURSELF. To be creative is to subject
yourself to the tyranny of subjectivity. You loved a movie, the person you went
with hated it. You want to crank up a song on the car radio, another passenger
wants to turn it off. You will never please everyone, so you might as well find
your style and your point of view and stick with it. If what you produce doesn't
seem to fit a "niche," so be it -- if it's good enough, the niche will magically
3. BELIEVE IN YOURSELF. Perhaps no other group of people is as
hung up on self-flagellation as writers. Nobody's buying anything now. Nobody's
paying anything. You can't get an agent. You can't make a living. There are too
many of us. And on and on. I happen to believe that no one is given a dream and
a passion for something without the corresponding capacity to succeed. If you
feel driven to write, you'll outlast most of the writing multitude by sheer
4. ACCEPT YOURSELF. No one starts out as a good writer, any
more than you would start out as a good driver, good cook or good tennis player.
Don't kid yourself. Accept criticism, and build on it. If you get a rejection,
try to figure out why that happened and move on. There will be good days and bad
days, but never stop trying to improve. It's a process.
REALITY. This may seem to be in direct conflict with No. 3, and in some ways
that reflects the complexity of our world. When you are selling your work, you
will always be faced with compromises. Remember, though, that you hold the
power, and it is always your decision whether to make that compromise or not. If
it's worth it to you, financially or career-wise, that's no disgrace. Moreover,
accept that nothing you write is ever going to be perfect. At some point, you
have to let it fly to the larger world, flawed or not. There's always another
day, something else to create.
6. PUSH YOURSELF. If you're a
freelancer, no one else is going to do that for you. Set goals. Make lists. Try
to create a structure that you can operate within, as opposed to drifting in a
vacuum. To be a freelancer is to adopt a dual personality -- you are your own
boss, and also your own employee. Therefore, require of yourself what you would
require of someone who was working for you.
Public art adds to the cultural landscape of a community, but what happens when a piece causes a collision between two of those cultures? That's the subject of the P.O.V. documentary, The Last Conquistador, to be broadcast on PBS July 15 (check your local listings for the time).
The film, by John J. Valadez and Cristina Ibarra, explores the moral dilemma facing sculptor John Houser as he creates the world's largest equestrian sculpture, a tribute to Juan de Onate, Spanish explorer and first governor of New Mexico. While many of the people of El Paso, where the monument will be placed, are excited to see a tribute to their Hispanic heritage, the Native Americans of New Mexico are outraged. Their ancestors were the victims of Onate's genocide, and the wounds are still fresh.
The documentary is a powerful examination of the role of public art and the responsibility of the sculptor to see both sides of the story. It's an engrossing hour for anyone who wants to create public art or is interested in the history of the American Southwest.
We will be presenting an in-depth feature on the sculptor and his monument in the October issue of Sculptural Pursuit.
Former Sculptural Pursuit contributor Alyson B. Stanfield recently released I'd Rather Be In The Studio!, a book on tackling the problems that artists face in their business careers. Stanfield has a knack for identifying problems and helping artists avoid making excuses. Nancy reviewed the book in this month's Creative Wisdom, which you can read in full by accessing our E-zine Archives, and you can purchase Stanfield's book, along with her numerous other art business products, on her website. Take a look and let us know what you think!
At some point in their careers, many artists turn to galleries to market and sell their work. Some tell horror stories of pieces damaged or lost, galleries closing the doors without returning work or money, and one-sided contracts that favor the gallery and penalize the artist. For most artists, however, gallery representation is a necessary and rewarding way to develop a reputation and sell work.
It’s exciting and flattering when a gallery expresses an interest in representing you and, by doing a little homework and using your common sense, you can develop fruitful, long-term business relationships with people who are interested in seeing you succeed.
Research. This may seem obvious, but many artists send portfolios to galleries they pick randomly without checking them out first. If you want to approach a gallery, or if a gallery makes an overture, first visit incognito. Look at the type of work and artists they represent. If they deal only in abstract photography and your work is realistic bronze sculpture, it’s not a fit, no matter what the gallery’s reputation might be. Watch how the staff interact with customers. Do they approach everyone who walks in the door as a potential customer, or are they dismissive of people who don’t fit their preconceived notion of what an art buyer looks like? Are they passionate about the work? Do they understand the pieces they represent and can they answer questions? Do they have good sales skills? Can you picture them selling your work?
Contact some of the artists represented by the gallery. Get details about their experience – the amount of work sold, how quickly the gallery pays, how openings and shows are handled – anything that will give you an idea about how the gallery functions.
Make contact. Do this either in person or on the phone. First make sure that you’re speaking with the decision maker and then explain that you’re familiar with the gallery because you’ve visited. Talk about what you like about the gallery and why you think you and your work would make a good addition. Begin to build a relationship. Ask if you can send a portfolio and, if the answer is yes, ask what format they prefer for images. Some galleries don’t want the hassle of viewing slides; others don’t want digital images. When you send material, include a return envelope with sufficient postage to get your portfolio back should the gallery decide you’re not a fit. Whatever the response, send a thank-you note.
Read the contract. If the gallery makes an offer of representation, ask for the contract. Make sure you understand the finer points, and if something is unclear, ask for an explanation. If you don’t like any provisions, negotiate. If you don’t ask for what you want, don’t complain about not having it later. If you can’t accept certain clauses in the contract and the gallery won’t negotiate, then it’s okay to walk away. Don’t begin your relationship feeling like the gallery has all of the power and you have none. The gallery works for you, not vice versa.
Some galleries don’t offer written agreements. If that’s the case, write your own and have the owner or manager sign it. A contract won’t protect you from every misunderstanding, but it can be a useful tool when disputes arise.
Keep records. Know which pieces are in the gallery, the date you delivered them, and the price. To avoid confusion, vary your titles. If your pieces have similar names, like Bird 1, Bird 2, and Bird 3, it’s easy for the gallery, not to mention your collectors, to mix them up. Use creative titles that reflect the nature or statement of each piece. If you work in editions, know which number of each edition is in the gallery’s possession. Like any other manufacturing business, keeping track of your inventory is critical to your organization and to your ultimate success.
Communicate. Most relationships require two-way communication to thrive. Working with a gallery is no different. This doesn’t mean calling every day to see how much of your work has sold. You should, however, check in periodically to let them know about new work, awards, large commissions, and other information of interest that might help them sell your work. The gallery should also be in contact with you on a regular basis to let you know what’s happening in their world. If months go by and you haven’t had a phone call or, more importantly, a check, don’t hesitate to call or drop in. The gallery is working for you – you’re paying them a hefty percentage to sell your work, not to warehouse it.
Exhibit professionalism and expect it from your galleries. This is a simple one. Deal with honesty and integrity, keep your promises, and deliver good work. Your galleries should do the same. If, even after all of your background checking, you find yourself in a relationship that isn’t working, walk away and find another gallery that fits your personality and your style.
We’d like to hear about your gallery experiences. Share your ideas for creating great gallery relationships.