U of S | Mailing List Archive | alt-photo-process-l | Re: Advice for finding a gallery.

Re: Advice for finding a gallery.

Oh my goodness of course not. Yes, I entirely meant the next sentence in your post.

In the beginning of developing an exhibition record it is important to work quick and smart. Especially if money is a concern. There are some color photography shows that I applied to that when I saw the winners I realized that it was a completely different genre than I was expecting--it was more like, say, beautiful stock color photography. I thought gum prints were...color photography! So I was trying to save Ryan some bucks...in the beginning (operative word).

I follow closely what is said to be "au courant" in such magazines as ArtNews and Art in America. The reason is that when teaching fine art photography to 150 photography majors, I want to be realistic about what is going on in the contemporary art field and not sell them a bill of goods. Don't get me wrong--I don't pigeonhole them into dust in the corner of a room or a light bulb turning on and off, sharks cut up in a tank and such :) I watch closely what is being said about photography, both good and bad, and read between the lines. I share contemporary photography in my classes always, by scanning the magazine images. The best section is to read the back of the magazines where they crit the current exhibits. Some are a HOOT--like when they act as if photograms were discovered by this or that artist as if they haven't been in existence since 1918 or before. I think it is a MUST to subscribe to at least Art in America to keep tabs on the art pulse, for better or for worse.

It was a year or so ago, if you google Altered States and I think it was ArtNews but maybe Art in America, finally there was a mention of the move AWAY from large digital works to more intimate, handmade works (gelatin silver being in this category!). So my guess is that large digital works will fade at some point. I do love them, though, so this is no judgment on that genre. But I do feel that alt has a timelessness that will always be there, though subject matter will change.

One of my favorite lectures I give is I take about 70 slides of a former "au courant" exhibit from the 80's, show it to the students, and then go back through the individual works one by one and ask the question, "Is this dated or is it timeless" and then the next, "Why do you say that?" One of those works in this exhibit is Sam Wang's silkscreen print which I can't explain (maybe he can give me a jpg and I can post it on my website--it's of an article of clothing vacant of body). I've done this lecture 3 times now and all students say it qualifies as timeless. But trying to really pin down what is timeless is quite the exercise. I can't say that the lecture comes to any black and white conclusions but it at least spurs students to think about it and the flip side, what goes out of style and quick. And then some goes out and comes back in...flower power.

Anyway, this is way too long a post in answer to your question and I should continue for even MORE pages to explain my answer because I guarantee that there are points in here, again, that may be misconstrued. But right now, I kid you not, let's just say there are so very few people who know what a gum print is, it is...scary. And it is smart, IMHO, to position ones alt work in a venue that not only understands alt but also the time that it takes to make it.

My 1 cent opinion.

PS Laura, about making a body of work--shoot for 30-40 in a body, edit down to 20 max for a website gallery (I have 40 in my Parking Lot gallery which needs to be cut way in half)...This is a point of contention I have with our seniors. I tell them to do 30-40 works for their senior thesis project. It is like pulling teeth--they think 15-20 should be it and that I am anal! Well, when you have to fill 145 **FEET** of linear gallery space with 15-20 works, see how easy that is...especially if there is no room to edit a body because there are too few good ones in it in the first place. My 1/2 cent to add to my already 1 cent. I actually shoot for 60 in a body to edit down to 40. It'd be interesting to see how others on this list do this. Hope this helps and doesn't freak you out even more. Maybe this is why large digital works are so wonderful--you can fill 145 ft. with 4 of them :)

Christina Z. Anderson

Christina Z. Anderson wrote:

Are you an alt printer? Or some other genre? Because with alt you need to be careful which venues to apply to. Large, digital color works are au courant so do your research. I wasted money in the beginning applying to shows that wouldn't even know what alt was.
Hi Christina,
I'm sure you didn't mean to imply that alt prints can't compete in the big real world of "art". Did you mean that it would be more productive in the beginning to stick to venues in tune to the alt genre? It's interesting though to hear that the trend is "large digital prints". I'm working on a series of images at the moment, and in my mind, I had imagined how powerful they would be printed life size in vivid high contrast. So when I started gum printing them last weekend, I got a shock. It's really something else entirely, much more intimate. I had to come down off my high horse and refocus to be able to appreciate what I'd done. So I can see how an exhibit with only the big, stark prints would reject an alt print. It would just get swallowed up in the exhibit. After being hit over the head repeatedly with a hammer, the gallery visitors simply wouldn't even see the alt print. But I wouldn't want to think that alt prints would only be appreciated in the realm of alt printing. It's sort of like saying, well that's really nice, for an alt print...!

Anyway, I'm still on step zero - producing a body of work - but eventually I will want to get the work out there, so thanks for the tips.