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Wednesday, September 5, 2018

An Adventure in Raleigh: Touring Art Galleries

This adventure started when a friend of mine told me about a gallery in Raleigh, North Carolina where she thought I might be able to have a solo exhibit. It is 311 Gallery at 311 W. Martin Street. I looked up their website and discovered they hold several national exhibits each year; one of these is a Landscape and Seascape exhibit. Although my friend reached out to the owner to direct him to my website, I thought it might be a good idea to apply for this exhibit to see whether my art was selected and how it would do in the show.

City Reflections II, Tenement, and Fresh Fruit to Go by April M Rimpo

City Reflections II by April M Rimpo

My painting City Reflections II was selected by the panel of jurors and will be on display from September 6 - 29th at 311 Gallery. I wanted very much to attend the reception for this exhibit and meet the owner, however the reception is the evening of September 7th. I am teaching a class on September 8th here in Maryland so the timing doesn't work. Another option was to either deliver the art or pick it up from the venue at the end of the exhibit.  I opted to deliver the art, so my husband and I drove to Raleigh last week. 

Before leaving, I researched other galleries in Raleigh and came up with a list of three galleries, in addition to 311 Gallery, that I wanted to visit. Much to my delight, when I delivered my work, the owner of 311 Gallery offered me a map of galleries in Raleigh and suggested four others he thought I should check out that were in the same downtown area.  The three I had selected were included in his recommendations.  Considering that I started with a list I found on the internet of over a dozen galleries, I was proud that my own selection overlapped with his.

My husband and I spent the rest of the day wandering from gallery to gallery. My goal was to try to get a feel for each gallery to see if I was interested in any of them as a possible representative of my art. For most, I introduced myself as an artist who had delivered a painting to 311 Gallery's Landscape exhibition and that I was just interested in seeing more art in Raleigh.  I said nothing about being interested in representation. I wanted to see how they treated me and others who wandered into the galleries and also spend some time seeing how the art in the gallery correlated to mine.  

When looking for a gallery, I want one that has a variety of art where I believe my art is within the boundaries of what they have selected to represent. In other words, consistent with the other work while not being so similar that it would compete directly with art that gallery already carries. I also pay attention to media. Some galleries prefer a specific medium, such as oil paintings, and nothing else. Since I do watercolor and acrylic paintings, it is likely they will not be interested in my art, although that alone would not rule them out as a gallery to approach.  I also pay attention to how the artwork is priced and whether they only carry local artists' work or only nationally known art.

One of these galleries rose to the top as one I should definitely reach out to for representation. They were busy that day taking down a show to install another pop-up event that would occur the next night. Although they were very busy, the owner took time to talk to me and describe the upcoming event.  She even talked to us about the hanging system she uses to hang work in her gallery, which has 15 foot tall ceilings.  I was pleasantly surprised that she stopped what she was doing when she was so busying preparing for the next day. That demonstrated to me that anyone who visits her gallery is no doubt treated with genuine interest and welcomed. 

One, which was my favorite when I researched their website, was disappointing based on its size, presentation of the art, and my overall reaction of the space. It was in what appeared to be a historic house, but smelled quite musty and damp.  

The one I had not found myself is in the process of working with a potential buyer; the owner is planning to retire as gallery owner and focus on producing her art and teaching workshops in Europe. I also received some input on the health of the art market in Raleigh, which was great to learn and consider before approaching a gallery for representation.

The nicest surprise during my tour was when I stopped at the Artspace Gallery, where there are a large number of studio artists.  As I was wandering the halls I saw the work of Ryan Fox, who is a fellow watercolor artist that I have come to know through Facebook.  We often have work selected for the same national exhibitions and both know each other's work. I immediately hunted for his studio and found him working there.  We had a great time visiting, since we had never actually met face-to-face.  My sweet husband wandered down the hall to kill time while Ryan and I talked.  I also had a nice conversation with another artist that I didn't know, who was in her gallery waiting for a canvas to dry and contemplating her next steps.  She and I chatted for some time about art, national exhibits, and her art. Although I am not sure whether a gallery like Artscape is the right answer since I am not local, the great experience made me include them as a place I needed to understand better. They do have a membership that includes remote artists that I need to understand.

All in all it was a very helpful trip that gave me lots to think about. I'm waiting to hear from a galleries I approach in Annapolis just before heading out on this trip, so the result from that gallery will determine what I do with the Raleigh galleries.  I only want to add one more gallery at this time and Annapolis, being closest, is my first choice. The close proximity will make delivery simpler.

A wonderful post script to my trip to Raleigh. I found out that my painting, City Reflections II, received the Second Place Award in 311 Gallery's Landscape and Seascape Exhibit. My thanks to the jurors of selection and awards.

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Copyright April M Rimpo All Rights Reserved. You may share my work with attribution and a link to this source site, but all other uses are prohibited.

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