The Many Sides of Special-Event Planning: When It Comes to Special Events, There Are Success Stories That Galleries Enjoy Sharing and There Are Others from Which They Learn
Jancsurak, Joe, Art Business News
In this second part of a two-part June/July feature, gallery heads from around the country share lessons learned from the aggressive pursuit of planning and executing special events.
Participating in this exchange of information are Andy McAfee, director of The Art Shop in Greensboro, NC, where the gallery, founded in 1899, is the city's second oldest business; Reita Newkirk, owner of Deloney Newkirk Fine Art with two Santa Fe, NM, gallery locations along the city's well-known Canyon Road; Debra Wood, owner of River Market ArtSpace in Little Rock, AR, where the gallery is considered to be the area's largest and most diverse gallery; Michele Rosen, owner of Santa Monica's Gallery 319, which has hosted celebrity artists such as The Rolling Stones' Ronnie Wood and Jefferson Airplane's Grace Slick, to name a few; Kimberly Salib, owner, Art Gotham in New York's famed Chelsea neighborhood; and David Barnett, owner, David Barnett Gallery, Milwaukee, the city's oldest and largest gallery.
For more on the individuals and galleries represented in this article, please refer to "Meet the Participants" on page 38.
Please discuss your most successful special event or exhibit and what made it so successful
Debra Wood: We've had many successful events at the gallery. One was held several years ago and was called, "Dishing Up Art Night." All the artists were invited to attend and bring a favorite dish. We had the food labeled as to the artist who created it, and the artists wore nametags. Patrons could eat a dish by "x" artist and then go "dish" about it with them. It was great fun. Nearly 40 artists participated. Another was last year's proceeds night for our local Humane Society. They brought in several animals available for adoption, and it was a very rewarding event.
Reita Newkirk: Our "Picture Yourself In Santa Fe" contest has been received with great enthusiasm. We started phoning everyone on our mailing list to update postal and e-mail addresses. Then we e-mailed everyone a follow-up thank you that included a link to our featured artists page on our Web site. Traffic has increased due to this creative marketing approach. The conversations with the people on our list have been great. We've revived our connection with everyone on this list.
Kimberly Salib: For us, "The Square Foot Show," has been our most successful. During our first year of operation (2005), we focused on a series of 12 monthly group shows, each with its own theme. This proved to be an excellent way for the young gallery to meet artists, collectors and others in the art scene during the first year of being open. The Pavilion at Artexpo New York was also good for us.
Michele Rosen: Our most successful show to date was our Sebastian Kruger show in March. It was successful in many ways and was definitely the most fun. It was the artist's first major U.S. show, and there was wonderful energy in the room, which translated into great sales. The artist was thrilled to be there and was extremely helpful in working with prospective clients. We sold a combination of originals and limited editions that night, and the sales continued after the show. We also realized that we were able to create a wonderful environment in which to showcase a new artist's work.
David Barnett: Milton Avery 1930s Period Exhibition in 1988. I was fortunate to obtain from Sally Avery (the artist's widow, now deceased) a major collection of oil paintings, gouaches and drawings from the 1930s period that had never been exhibited or seen before since the 1930s. This period of Milton Avery's work had been overlooked by the art world. Also, I believed that the WPA (Works Progress Administration) period in general had been overlooked by the art market establishment and that this period in American art history was about to be recognized as very significant. My timing and observations turned out to be correct. Interest by museums and collectors alike has continued to grow ever since. …