You exhibit your work at a street fair. Is that less important than at a gallery venue?
You have a solo show in a café. Do the galleries down the street have better art?
You are in a group show in a library gallery. Any less important than that exhibit in NYC’s Chelsea area?
Besides the obvious answer that you are getting exposure, for an artist there are no “unimportant” exhibits. Just like in sports, where every game counts, getting your work “out there” is important and a stepping stone to the next bigger opportunity.
As Robert W. Bethune writes in his article in the Fall 2013 Art Times, Why Unimportant Productions Matter, what you do is not unimportant. “Those who achieve at the highest level, regardless of their field of endeavor, do not rise from the earth because someone sowed dragon teeth, nor are they magically produced by the wave of someone’s magic wand.” Though he is addressing the performing arts, what he says is spot on for all the arts.
He goes on to say that sports provides a systematic path to progress, one the player knows is there and gives an organized opportunity to move on to the next level. Unfortunately, the arts do not have that. However, we do have exhibition opportunities that range from the easy to get into (street fair, café), to more difficult like juried shows, and professional galleries.
Also exhibiting your art, no matter how small the venue, gives you not only the opportunity for advancement, but as he writes (this applies dually in this blog to both the artist and the gallery) “…what you do does matter. In addition to all the other good things you do such as contributing to the cultural life of your community, providing cultural experiences for your participants, and improving appreciation and understanding of the art, you are also the one who might ignite the spark in someone who doesn’t yet know they have what it takes to rise to the top.”
That is why the current exhibit in our gallery is so important. It is giving these young artists a place to start their careers. They learn how to prepare artwork for an exhibit, get exposure, and feel a sense of accomplishment from being a part of a larger endeavor. Not to mention the ego boost when they can say “My artwork is in an exhibit” (one that is not in the art classroom or the halls of their school).
So let’s thank Union County for funding this wonderful traveling exhibit, and all the teachers who acted as mentors in getting the show together. If the title didn’t include the word “Teen” I never would have guessed the artwork hanging on the walls was created by teenagers! If you can, take the time and stop by and take in this exhibit. You will not be disappointed.
“Painting With Words” – Leona M Seufert