Friday is Forever

fans-at-nia-fine-art-fridayThis is a follow-up to my previous post, which covered preparations for Friday’s art show, NIA Fine Art Friday. Today I will write about the show itself and the many lessons we learned.

We had a smallish crowd (25-30 people), but everyone who came engaged wholeheartedly with the art and the artists. Our guests were sincerely interested in our work and our artistic processes, and we appreciated the opportunity to receive feedback.

Christopher W. Berry

Christopher W. Berry

In addition, we were grateful and proud to see two of our artists make sales. When one of us has a success, it is a success for us all. My Black Dahlia piece was purchased by someone who knew her story and recognized her image. Christina Bosco (below) also sold several items, which made me very happy.

Christina Bosco

Christina Bosco

NIA Fine Art Friday brought to a close a full year of work that involved meetings, fundraisers, group and solo art-making, event planning, marketing & promotion, and the installation and execution of our exhibit. Some of our efforts proved more effective than others, but we learned by doing. Each of us has evolved and can apply her experience toward any number of future artistic endeavors.

Terrie Byrne

Terrie Byrne

One thing that surprised me is the fact that attendance was higher at our smaller preview show in September. While there were some new faces at Friday’s show, the data has taught me that our core market will only support one event per year. From a business perspective, this data will help us avoid losses by consolidating our exposure.

Dean Johnson

Dean Johnson

There were a couple of events that didn’t happen at all. Our group-led workshop failed to attract the minimum number of registrants and had to be cancelled. We had also planned a wine tasting to tie in with the annual Chicago Artists Month. Unfortunately, the city decided to cancel this campaign for the first time in 20 years, possibly due to the retirement of its lead organizer.

There were, however, some pleasant surprises this year. The beverage donation from Lagunitas cut down significantly on our refreshment costs. We also had some help from our supporters, with an Indiegogo campaign, the sale of hand-painted wine glasses, and freewill donations at our preview event going a long way toward covering our event costs. I am still moved when I think about the sacrifices our fans made to help make this year possible.

northside-independent-artistsWhat becomes of the NIA concept now? For now, we are taking a hiatus as each artist focuses on new projects and goals. Christopher W. Berry has announced that this was his last NIA collaboration; he is working on making connections in the abstract art community. Christina Bosco and Terrie Byrne are looking into entering art fairs and festivals. Meanwhile, I am completing private commissions and continuing to liquidate my inventory.

When and if NIA returns, some of us will have moved on, and there might be some new faces — as there have always been through our storied historyNIA will continue to make room for emerging artists to gain hands-on experience and interaction with potential fans and buyers.

Like true artists, we will create something out of nothing. For now, we return to the void.

Makin’ Plans

Yesterday’s art show, NIA Fine Art Friday, was a lot of fun! I will write more about it in my next post. For now, I want to share some behind-the-scenes photos and advice about preparing for a show.original-mock-up-for-nia-fine-art-friday

As I did with the Catholic Charities Gala of the Arts show, I determined my layout for this event well in advance. I even measured the exact spacing between the hardware I would need to install in order to hang the pieces. All I would need to do is follow my specifications, and the art would practically hang itself!

dean-mock-up-of-nia-fine-art-friday-displayThere was one small hiccup when collectors purchased two of the pieces I had earmarked for the show! This necessitated choosing two back-up pieces, re-designing my layout to accommodate them, and taking new measurements. (Same toes in both photos! 👣)

As you can see above, my final selection included pieces from various series: Art of the Solstice, Chicago Art, Urban Icons, Angel Art, and Chicago Baseball Art. nia-fine-art-friday-setupThe grouping looked surprisingly cohesive — apparently, my work has been stylistically consistent for the past two years!

Not only did I pre-plan my display — each of the exhibiting artists also pre-chose her display area at ChiPRC using the simple floorplan at right. This step was crucial, as we would all be setting up our areas at different times.

With my measurements in hand, installing the art was a breeze! Check back soon for my next post, which will include a photo of my complete display.

dean-setting-up-nia-fine-art-friday