BLOG NO. 19 / "Jackie oo" and other tragedies / by steve joseph

In my 19th blog I'l like to speak of 6 tragic exhibition experiences, while showing my work inside and outside of the gallery setting. I am sure other artists can fully relate to many of these...

1. Drunk Openings
In 1997, while still working at GQ magazine, I had work accepted in an exhibition named "After Hours", which exhibited art made by professionals creating art after their 9 to 5 shifts. I was excited, it was my very first group show in Chelsea, New York. The opening was packed and my three-foot tall stained glass panel hung smack-dab in the center of the gallery. As the wine was flowing, a drunk guest walked head on into my panel. The work swung and she fell to to floor. Miraculously, neither the art or the woman was damaged, and only one was escorted out of the gallery.

1. Flipping "Flipping the Bird"

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At the "e-merge 2008,” opening at Bullseye Glass, in Portland, Oregon, my Flipping the Bird Chandelier (above) was hanging at the top of the stairs, at the very entrance to the gallery. I attended the opening and was excited to have the work in such a great spot. As I ascended the stairs, I found a guest tapping the glass eggs together to produce a chime like sound. She said "Just listen to the lovely sounds this makes!!". I guess she misinterpreted the title of the work and thought that SHE should flip the bird herself. 

3. Clauses in Your Contract

It is important to try to predict possible clauses in a gallery contract. Often overlooked is the "Blow Up Football Player" clause (see above). I think I will change the name of my work (peaking out from the back) from "Jackie O in White" to "Jackie 00". 

4. Badly Hung

I was glad to have my work chosen for a show in the Wayne Art Center in 2014, but when I arrived to the opening I found the work unplugged, and placed high behind a tall wooden cabinet. I had to plug the work in myself and request for it to be moved so it could be viewed eye level. A week later a friend visited and found the work in a new position, but again, it was unplugged. 

5. Going MAD

I am very happy the work my work (above) is in the permanent collection at the Museum of Arts and Design in New York City. Here is some advice before you arrange for work to be in a permanent collection. Ask if the you can have a lifetime pass for the museum, and ask if the work will be on the museums website. If I were asked again I would have requested to have a lifetime pass, which large museums like MoMA offers, and even a theatre named Dixon Place here in Manhattan did for a commission I made for them. I have been waiting for over two years for the work to be posted on the MAD web site. I understand they have a small staff at MAD.

6. Doing it Right

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Being the optimistic guy that I am, I must end this blog with the best show I have been invited to show my work, which is the "VOICES X" exhibition in Dubuque, Iowa (2014). Nothing went wrong. It had a very organized staff, most of which were volunteers. They helped with my delivery and return of my work, and even better, hung all of my art in a space which they painted black (see above). They put on a classy, 7 hour opening with entertainment, food, and I had plenty of sales. The best part of this was meeting the super friendly locals, and they still have my work posted on their website. I highly recommend artists to enter this show.

With all of the planning artists and curators put into exhibitions, you never know what to expect. My advice is to ask questions on all aspects of the show, before the exhibition, and to visit the gallery as much as possible during the exhibition.