Friday, September 10, 2010

It's Show Time

This morning was the time for installation of my work at the Initial Point Gallery in Meridian.  I knew we artists would be in charge of hanging our work with volunteers to help.  This is no problem for me as that is what I have been doing at the art museum for fifteen years.  The gallery is in the city hall building on the third floor, right in the center section.

We were told to be at the gallery at 9 a.m.  The artist from last month would be taking down her work at 8 a.m.  I was on time and was able to carry all my stuff inside in one trip (thanks to my giant yoga bag).  The other artist, Carlos was already there and I think even already had some pieces up when I arrived.

There are two long walls in the space.  One for my work, the other for Carlos'.  Since he was already there, he chose his wall.  That was fine with me. I knew I could go earlier, but wanted the previous artist to have plenty of time to get things down.  However, I also knew I would get the wall that had several "obstacles" (which I had noticed when I had previously visited the space).  On my wall there was one door, a fire extinguisher box, a fire light, and two thermostats (apparently randomly place along the wall). More about these later.  The other wall had nothing.  Since my work is fabric and I did have more variable sizes, it was more accommodating for those things than Carlos' work would be.

There were two ladies there to help me and the guy who was in charge of the space.  I'm afraid I bored the ladies to death because I took my time and really didn't need any help.  I took out all my pieces and started just laying them out on the floor.  I had no preconceived notion of a layout because I was just going to see what worked when I was in the space.  I could tell a couple of pieces weren't going to work with the others right away and set those aside.  I started arranging, trying to spread out like colors and vary sizes and directions. 

There are a lot of things that are considered when hanging a show that the general public probably doesn't notice. And they shouldn't.  If they do, then that means we didn't do our job well.  That's my training and it's what I do, so I went to work.  After I had an arrangement I was happy with, then I started figuring out spacing between the pieces.  I think the ladies wanted me to put more pieces in the show, but I thought it was already going to be more crowded than necessary.  The artwork does need to have space to breathe.  When I was previewing the space, the artworks that were hung, at that time, were so close together that I could not concentrate on one piece because the next one was distracting me.  More is not always better.

Once I had the spacing, I started measuring where I wanted the hangers to be for each piece.  They had wires that were hanging down from a track and hangers that moved up and down the wires.  I had a tape measure out and paper and pencil ready to do that math, calculating the exact location of the hanger based on the center height.  I was told by the helpers that we could eyeball it or adjust as we go along.  I told them I was a perfectionist.  Then I continued to work that way placing tape and marking points where they could align the hangers.  Yes, it was a much slower process.  I think Carlos had his stuff up in an hour.  I did not.

They hung as I continued to mark and yes, they were right about adjusting afterward.  In the end, I saw that I didn't have to be so precise because the hangers and wires were easily moved.  But I still would have done it the same way so I had a starting point.  We got them all up and the helpers left around 11 a.m.  I stayed to do adjusting, put labels up and hang my artist information.  I eventually finished around 12 noon, which was the time I was suppose to be finished by.

I am very happy to have this opportunity to show my work here.  But I can't say I'm 100% happy with the layout.  Part of that is because of the "obstacles".  I had to change the layout a little from what I wanted because when we tried to hang one piece the rod would have been right across the fire light and that would not work.  So I put a smaller piece there so it could hang lower.  The light is right above that piece, but what can you do.  Two pieces are covering the two thermostats and they stick out from the wall farther than the hanging wires.  The fabric is already "wobbly" because of the hanging device, so the pieces are not flat against the wall, but the thermostats make it even more so. Once again, what can you do.

The other thing I would have done differently is change the center height (the point where the center of each piece should be).  They had a certain height that they hang everything at which is much higher than what we use at the museum (it is lower at the museum because of viewing by kids and people in wheel chairs).  Their center height for the piece is about where the top of my head is.  That is really high and I feel like I am looking "up" at my pieces.  But since there was another artist's work in the same space, I used their height.  If I had had the entire space with just my work, I would have used a lower number.

I had not seen any of Carlos' artwork before today. But I was told they elected to put us together because they thought our work "went together."  I cannot say that I agree with that.  Did they think that because ours are both non-realistic that they go together?  Most of my pieces are abstract while his are mostly non-objective.  To me the sensibilities are very different.  Below are some examples of his work.  What do you think?

I think that my half of the installation is as professional as it can be given the circumstances I had to work with. I hope that it is evident when people view it (even if it is an unconscious observation).  I took some pictures after all was done and realized that they had little lights on another track above the hanging one and that mine were not turned on, but Carlos' were.  It is probably better if they aren't on because they were not moved around to be directed to each specific piece.  If that is still the case when we go to the reception next week, I will see what can be done about it.  Might have to get the ladder out again.

Despite all my observations about the installation, I hope many people will come and see my work.  The artist reception is next Wednesday, Sept. 15 from 11 a.m. - 2 p.m.  It's on the third floor of the Meridian City Hall building on Broadway. Hope to see you there.

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