For the most part, I have continued to focus this year on completing private commissions and liquidating existing inventory. I did make an exception to the rule, however, when I decided to actually do something with materials I already had lying around.
At least 2 years ago I purchased some acrylic sheets with the intention of painting on them. This technique is known as Reverse Plexi Painting, after the brand name Plexiglas. Because this medium allows artists to achieve a perfect, glassy surface, it has been used in Pop Art by Roy Lichtenstein, Jim Nutt, and many others.
My approach to the medium was to be an extension of the cut-out technique I have been employing for over 2 years, as I would be using cut-outs as stencils. I loved the idea that the Plexiglas surface would remove all evidence of my hand. The end result would be like something off a factory line.
The piece at the top of the page is my first attempt. To see how I made this, take a look at my short video:
I strongly recommend the show, ArtAIDSAmerica, which The Advocate is calling “Uncomfortable, wistfully beautiful, and vitally important.” The exhibit features a wide variety of artistic reactions to the AIDS epidemic, including journalistic documentation of the early days of our awareness, elegiac tributes to lost friends and lovers, and even abstract pieces containing coded references to the disease. You will recognize some of the big-name artists, such as Keith Haring; others are more obscure.
Through these different points of view, a story emerges. In particular, it is part of our story as gay men, one that is easily forgotten in the days when modern medicine has made HIV a manageable disease and more difficult to contract. Even so, one cannot help but feel outrage when one is reminded of the ignorance and hatred with which our elected officials condemned so many people to die.
There were several panels from the AIDS quilt on display. These pieces really got to me, probably because my mother is a quilter. Although she has never made an AIDS-related quilt, she has created numerous memorial quilts for families who lost loved ones. These pieces always include swatches of fabric from clothes worn by the deceased. They create something tangible for the families to hold onto. I think the AIDS quilt panels are a lot like that, only they take the extra step of making these people’s lives and deaths visible for everyone.
That’s what this exhibit does too. ArtAIDSAmerica runs through Sunday, April 2 at Alphawood Gallery, which is located at 2401 N Halsted.
So far, we’ve talked about creating, funding, and promoting your art event. You’ve done all the work and installed the art. What should you expect? Speaking from experience, you should expect nothing. In my exhibits so far, attendance has ranged from 20 people to over 100. Sometimes, I sell work; sometimes, I don’t. In 27% of my exhibits, including my most high-profile showing to date, I sold nothing.
There are things about your show that will work, and things that won’t. You may have under-budgeted for the costs you have to bear. You may have chosen a bad day or time for an art show. You may have under-promoted or misdirected your efforts to a saturated market. You may have brought too much or too little art to meet the demand.
Take a deep breath. Keep in mind that you created the situation, the good, the bad, and the ugly. You also created the art, which was either suited to market preferences or not. Be gentle with yourself, but take responsibility for the end result. Instead of blaming others, resolve to improve the elements you can control. Learn from the things that worked and the things that didn’t. Try to be as objective as possible.
Did people not come to your show? Did people not buy your art? Change some of the variables and try again. Don’t forget that there is always room for improvement, both in your event planning and in your art. Find a way to fill real market needs while maintaining your unique brand.