Reflections on my first solo show

Self-development

Although I have occasionally exhibited various pieces in group art shows, until this past Thursday, on January 2, 2020, I had never had a solo art show.

My friends at eARTh House Center for the Arts host a show every month for a selected artist and they asked me to take the January slot. Though I had tons of pictures that I kept meaning to get printed and offer for sale, it’s something that I always said I would get around to doing “one of these days, when I have a reason.”

The eARTh House show was my reason, and I banged out about two dozen prints in a couple weeks and packaged them for sale.

Going into the show, I didn’t know what to expect or how people would respond to my work. Aside from the group shows where my stuff gets lost in the milieu of others’ works, most of my output has been “shown” on Instagram with all of its attendant superficiality.

My sales numbers for the evening surprised me, and even more gratifying was that this was the first time that I had strangers purchasing something that I made. Why was this special?

Art show display table.

It’s difficult to express the mindset. Let’s try: I have crazy ideas all the time where I think, “That would be a really cool picture!” So I make the picture that needs to be made and post it on Instagram. Once it’s done, I always have doubts and think about how it could have been executed better — if I had done something different with the light, or cropped differently, or whatever, but I still know that despite its flaws, it’s a good picture. And what happens then, once it’s released to the world on Instagram? Maybe I’ll get 40 “likes” from people who bother to stop scrolling long enough to click the “like” button. If I’m lucky, maybe someone will take the time to comment a praying hands or post a “100” icon. Big whoop, and I still don’t know what those praying hands are supposed to be about.

At some point I wonder if I’m spending thousands of hours to work on a craft and all that happens is my friends tell me nice things to be polite and someone gives me a praying hands icon.

Not to say that I do what I do for public adulations. I do it because I’m compelled to do it, internally. The decision to display it to the world, on Instagram or as a print in a show, or whatever…that is sort of a sounding beacon to see if there are other souls out there that resonate to my frequency.

And when a total stranger gives me money because an artistic vision I had gave him an emotional experience…that’s no bullshit. Even if it’s only $5…that five dollars holds a value to him, and he deemed my work more valuable than the money. I feel less alone in my eccentricities, if that makes sense. Money talks; bullshit walks, and all that.

Speaking of which, it was fascinating and surprising to see what pictures sold. Some that I was unsure of, surprised me by selling well and eliciting comments. Others that I really liked generated no interest. I’ll cover that in another post where I show the winners and the losers of the night.

Going forward

My first show was low pressure and the experience was invaluable. I’m looking forward to branching out and doing more shows in the future.

Acknowledgments: Thanks Kyle and Keri at eARTh House for the opportunity at your shop. Thanks to Mary for helping me overcome my scatterbrainedness and organizing the display setup.

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