Wednesday, September 28, 2005

A Sample of My Work

As I wait for a new round of rejection letters to head my way, I thought it would be nice to share one of my paintings. The above image is "Sweet Dreams" from my Butterfly Series. It measures 16"x20" and is high viscosity acrylic on stretched canvas.

In news relating to all things gallery/exhibition, I have managed to secure a trendy location in town for the remainders of my September exhibit from up north. The paintings should arrive next week sometime and I'll be swinging by and dropping off a few lovelies for them to display along with a few copies of the book to sell.

Another task on my “to do” list is to visit with a small touristy gallery in Historic Downtown Cocoa Beach Florida. It's amazing what something as simple as a phone call can do. I cruised by the space on Labor Day weekend, emailed them some samples of my work... didn't hear, but then decided to follow-up with a phone call and we're on for a face to face next week and we're talking exhibition space for February (which would be ideal for me).

The moral of the story is, don't be afraid of making phone calls to galleries and alternative spaces. Speaking directly to the gallery staff, and in some cases the director, can only show initiative and in many ways will help circumvent the problems a busy schedule or not-so-web/email-savvy gallery. I think this week will find me making several phone calls. What can it hurt?

Saturday, September 24, 2005

Thanks, but no thanks | Another Letter From the Stack

“Dear Suzanne,

Thank you for your interest in our registry

Although I appreciated the opportunity to review your materials, I regret to inform you that they will not be incorporated into our curated artist registry. I realize that this is a potential disappointment to you, but I hope that you can understand that this process is extremely competitive, and that only a very small percentage of submissions are accepted.

Unfortunately due to the overwhelming volume of submissions we recieve each week, which I personally review, it is impossible for me to give individual feedback to each artist who submits their work for consideration.

I encourage you to look into other spaces with review programs in New York, such as Art in General, Artists Space, the Drawing Center, Exit Art, P.S. 1, and the Sculpture Center.

Thank you for allowing me to review your materials.

Best wishes,

Director & Chief Curator”

Well this is a new type of rejection letter for me. I applied a few weeks ago for a curated registry located in NYC. While I knew my odds were somewhat slim, I also took a chance and submitted a body of work that I haven’t been in the habit of promoting, my Body Series Drawings. I figured for such a gritty and edgy location I should change things up and send these works rather than my current series which are much more soft, and quiet. Well, it could have been the drawings, might have been my resume, it could have been any number of things and as you can see, even eliciting this response was an achievement. They certainly don’t have time to tell me what about that work wasn’t appropriate for their collection. One good thing though is that I can always turn around and send the series I’m working on a few weeks later. Here’s to a little trial and error.

Monday, September 12, 2005

A Fresh Selection from the Stack

“Dear Suzanne,

Thank you for giving us the opportunity to see your work. Unfortunately, due to a full plate of artists, The Gallery cannot accept your work at this time. However, if you so desire, you are welcome to send us slide of your new work in the future.

Thank you for your interest in The Gallery,


Mr. InCharge”

Today’s rejection letter falls into that “hmmm… so, did they like me?” category. I tend to officially put these under the “neutral” column when adding them to the tally. If they loved my work and HAD to have it, they may find room for it in their gallery regardless or go out of their way to tell me so. Hence, it’s my assumption that these letters indicate something of a near miss aesthetically. Meaning, my work is close, but not quite there. It may be that the execution needs to be polished more, or perhaps the themes and concepts need to be explored more deeply, or even more simply, perhaps I just don’t have enough work yet to prove that it’ll hold up as a series. Either way, this isn’t a door closed, just one that sticks a bit and perhaps it’ll open better when the weather has changed. I plan to resubmit to these types of responses after several months have passed. You just never know.

Sometimes all the work pays off

This weekend, payment for sales I made on a show last month arrived from a gallery up north. Opening the envelope and slipping that thin piece of paper from its hiding place made for a very satisfying moment indeed. There is actually a light at the end of the tunnel and that light means that all this work may eventually pay off. While my mind is filled with feelings of accomplishment and relief (the money is of course much needed), it brings with it a certain amount of tension. Will I be able to keep this up? Now that I’ve moved, will I find it difficult to drum up sales? Will it be even more difficult to build up a base of collectors in my new home town? These are all questions that I cannot answer right now. Knowing that I was able to sell most of my work at the show last month feels good and gives me hope that perhaps I can do the same with future opportunities.

Also, I just returned last night from another exhibition up north (my last scheduled show in Michigan). I flew back in order to attend the opening reception and say goodbye one last time to the city and my friends. Near the end of the reception the gallery received word that we had by far the highest attendance of any gallery in town that day. This is no small accomplishment given the location. Other parts of town hold openings in tandem in order to share the crowds of people who attend, but the gallery where my show was, was flying solo downtown on a weekend when other area merchants and restaurants are closed. Not only did we do well attendance-wise, but I also managed to make a few sales at the reception. For me, this is a first. Usually people like to steep in the work before making a decision. Opening receptions are times for cheese, fruit, crème puffs, and wine, but rarely for purchasing artwork. I’m hoping that this implies that the rest of the works may have a shot at finding new homes.

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

Another Selection from the Stack II

"Dear Suzanne,

Thank you for your interest in representation here at the Gallery. I have followed the link to your website and have reviewed the images and information you have posted. Although I find the work interesting and it appears to be well executed, I do not feel it is right for my gallery.

Thanks again for the submission and best of luck in your search for representation.


Mr. Doe"

This is a really common type of letter that I get. Part of the disadvantage of cruising all over the country seeking galleries is that it can be truly challenging to determine what sort of gallery you're attempting to make contact with. While you may see work that seems similar enough to yours on their website, they may not be able to update their site frequently and so the work may be outdated. Also the work online might only be a fraction of what the gallery has in house and again doesn't represent the gallery image well. Of course there's another factor to consider... my inability to see that there is no or very little connection with my work's themes or style to the gallery. When you don't fit perfectly into a specific genre, finding a gallery to represent your work can certainly be a challenge.

Another Selection from the Stack


Sorry it took me so long to get back to you. I have recently accepted a position at The XXX Museum of Art. I am sorry to say that I stepped "down" from my position at the Gallery at last week. I do not know who is going to be taking submissions from now on. I apologize for not being able to help you. On a personal note, I think your art work is fantastic!

John Doe"

So close yet so far, no? I get some honest enthusiasm for my work, but the person in charge of the gallery is no more and has no idea what the gallery will be doing in that regard in the future. It's a swing and a miss! Maybe I can make it a near miss. I wrote him back and thanked him for the email, asked him if he knew of other places that might find my work interesting and wished him luck in his new position. We’ll see.

Saturday, September 03, 2005

Let's Map it Out

Here's the break down regarding response types:

I consider a neutral reply one where a gallery has a positive reaction to my work, but may not have any exhibition space for me at this time or cannot accept new artists. This may be the gallery's attempt to let me down gently, but because they haven't said that my work is not appropriate for their space, they will remain on my mailing list.

A negative response is one where the gallery makes it clear that my work does not align well with the gallery vision or aesthetic.

A gallery is excited about my work and would like to offer me a show, representation, or would like to discuss the possibility of such opportunities.

Friday, September 02, 2005

A Selection From the Stack

"Thank you for taking the time to share your work with us. The gallery is committed to exhibiting work that reflects a certain style. Though not easily verbalized, our mission is to represent artists whose work coincides with that direction. Our intent when choosing new artists is not to critique or judge, but to identify a style that coincides with our own.

Your work was very interesting and well presented. At this time, other work we have reviewed is a better fit for us. We wish we could represent many more artists but the reality of it is that we can only represent a few.

Thanks for your interest in the gallery.

Best regards,

Gallery X"

I love this letter. The writer really did put forth some serious effort. Sometimes I get only one sentence that says very little indeed, in this case I got several sentences that while trying to be delicate and encouraging also said very little. It still makes me smile. Perhaps I'll try them again in several months.

Here’s an abbreviated background

In the last year and a half, I have attempted to dust off my resigned BFA and finally put all those years spent in the studios that I so willingly shelled out thousands of dollars for back to use. After six years of working in a corporate setting as a designer my long suppressed dream of participating in all the excitement and hubbub of the “art world” came back and bit me hard.

Here’s a little back story:
Initially upon graduation I think reality had already set in. I was going to need a steady income and I was going to have to come up with some way to get it. While college was great and provided me with numerous opportunities to explore various methods of expression and craft, I really left with no idea where to start. How does one go about finding a gallery? Is that where we’re supposed to start? Or should I get an agent? What do I need to have with me if I meet with someone? How should I dress? Before I knew it, I was way ahead of myself and I hadn’t even removed my graduation robe. Paralyzed by intimidation, I was convinced that I was the only one out there who would look foolish trying to make a dent. And so, rather than put myself through all of that, after a few feeble and misguided attempts, I resigned myself to life as a designer.

Hey, it paid well. I managed to pay off most of my student loans and picked up some very handy and useful skills along the way. After a while though, climbing the ranks towards someone else’s personal/corporate goal just wasn’t motivating any more. It didn’t help that the company I was working for was slowly going the way of many Dotcoms from the late 90’s and there was little work in the office to keep one busy. Watching the clock became painful, and in an attempt to help the hours creep by just a little quicker I started to dip my toes back in.

This is not to say that I completely avoided artwork entirely from 1998 on. But, I completed my final grand painting “I Quit” in the summer of 1998 and as far as art-art is concerned, I had retired that side of me.

In the late winter/early spring of 2004 I started to paint again. Finally I had something to say… I had experiences from the previous 6+ years that I could look back on with a new perspective. The work flowed and soon I was painting nearly every day. That summer I had my first show at a local gallery in the historic downtown area of Lansing. It wasn’t a huge venue by any means, but it was just what I needed to keep pushing. Shortly after I found a gallery in a nearby town that wanted to take me on, and my work was accepted into two other exhibits, this time in NY State.

What changed? I was no longer so worried about what “adults” would think. Here I was in my late 20’s now, I had learned a lot about people of authority. I learned that for the most part, they are as human as you or I. They weren’t scary at all. I also relied a lot on the wealth of literature available online via bookstores and community boards out there that offers artists a plethora of information, tips, and experiences to learn from. Why try to invent the wheel all over again? Learn how others have made the wheel and see if you can’t make your own wheel from what you learned?

Now What?
So here I am, a year and a half later, hopefully a little wiser. I’m trying to branch out more. I’ve moved to a new town and I’m starting all over again. Using the philosophy that with some good research, a little luck (being in the right spot at the right time), and some serious commitment to my efforts, I’m hoping to get an exhibition (beyond juried shows) and possibly some representation. I’ll be documenting my steps along the way along with the results.

And so, we come to the name of the blog, My Rejection Letters. I plan to share these with everyone as well. We need to learn to expect them and not feel as though they are personal attacks. Sometimes we’re just not what the gallery is looking for at that moment, the gallery might be full and have no room for new artists, or perhaps your research was off. Whatever the reason, you cannot be sensitive about it, you cannot take it to heart as an attack on your voice as an artist. You gotta dust yourself off, get back up and move on.