Lili Krakowski on mon 25 aug 08
The problem with shows, all shows, any shows, is that (pardon my
French) la shows en soit has become overdone into
meaninglessness. I can remember when ice cream was a treat--a
special-occasion thing. Now it is a daily, trite menu item,
served when time and imagination are short. Things wear out their
There are too many shows, they are too frequent, they have
become redundant and deja vu. I have argued against entering
shows forever, as a letter of mine in CM some years back
confirms. Shows are money makers for the organizers, with the
many rejected paying for the few winners to exhibit their work.
A very worrisome aspect of shows is that they have become some
sort of touchstone, trophy, "goal" for novices---who are prodded
into thinking that they "must" compete, "must" enter shows,
Imagine if all the med students and interns rushed out there as
soon as they knew how to put a bandaid on and started exhibiting
their skills? What is different about clay? The internet now
presents pictures-sorry-images of all sorts of clay thingies made
by all sorts of people who know nothing and do not care about
Maybe this NCECA rejection is a sign that we should call
moratorium on juried shows. Let those who want to exhibit their
work find galleries, set up storefront exhibits, lawn sales etc.
But let us pull in the reins,
slow down and try to return to being a craft, making incredibly
well made objects, each potter competing with herself.
As to electronic books. Yes, bound books are wonderful, etc etc.
But the Internet can become a free university, where anyone can
access all information. No one needs to print out the whole
megilah. One can take notes. If one treats those things as
though they were lectures, not books, it works fine, and opens up
a whole world.
Be of good courage
KATHI LESUEUR on mon 25 aug 08
On Aug 25, 2008, at 9:19 AM, Lili Krakowski wrote:
> The problem with shows, all shows, any shows, is that (pardon my
> French) la shows en soit has become overdone into
> There are too many shows, they are too frequent, they have
> become redundant and deja vu.... Let those who want to exhibit their
> work find galleries, set up storefront exhibits, lawn sales etc.
> But let us pull in the reins, slow down and try to return to being
> a craft, making incredibly
> well made objects, each potter competing with herself.
I can't agree more. Shows seem to go through a cycle. Artists get
together and decide to present their work to the public. The rent a
space, send out notices, and put up posters. After a few years the
event grows. It becomes more work, so they hire someone to help put
it together. Then they get the bright idea to become a non-profit.
Pretty soon they've lost all control of their event and eventually
find themselves getting the boot. Often the very people who argued
that "we need to upgrade the quality of our show" find themselves
shocked when they are booted out as part of the upgrade. Meanwhile,
the public, who has come to expect certain artists and kinds of work
at the show, find themselves with nothing they want to buy and even
if they did, nothing they can afford.
Another problem is the "piggy-back" show. Ann Arbor is a great
example. The "original" show was started to get people downtown to
shop. Ann Arbor has three downtown locations. The show started in
the campus downtown. It was logical that the central downtown would
start a show on the same dates. Audree Levy proposed the show and ran
it for many years. It was eventually taken from her by the merchants
association. Then, the University of Michigan Office of Student
Services started a show next to the "original" show. Anyone who
signed up could sell in it. Out of this grew the Michigan Guild of
Artists and Artisans. In the 70's they were approached to put on a
show on Main Street, the third downtown area.
By the eighties, most of the starting exhibitors at "original" fair
had been booted out. They were the ones who started and ran the show
for many years, until it became a none profit with paid management.
They came over to the Guild show and began to demand changes to
"upgrade" the quality at that show. (artists never seem to learn)
Many long time exhibitors suddenly lost their right to exhibit. At
the same time other satellite shows were starting in parking lots,
and private areas. The whole thing got out of control. The "original"
fair got in a fight with their merchants and moved. The merchants put
in their own show adding about 300 new exhibitors. The merchants
began selling their sidewalk space to anyone willing to pay them a
huge ransom. There are now about 2000 exhibitors at Ann Arbor.
I saw the writing on the wall and stopped doing the show in '95. It
no longer is the dynamic money maker it once was. At one time almost
everyone did well. Now, almost everyone doesn't do well. And the
definition of "well" has change. When I quit it was not unusual for a
potter to sell in excess of $10,000. Thirteen years later $10,000
would be considered a fantastic show.
More and more customers have stopped coming. They can't stand the
size of the show. More and more exhibitors have stopped coming. They
can't stand the hours, grueling set up and tear down, and the cost.
The sales are often not worth the cost and effort. It's the only
show I've ever done without free artist parking or motel discounts.
The merchants are just to greedy to give the artists a break.
Ann Arbor is a dying show. That "upgrade" in quality sent the buyers
running elsewhere since there was little in Ann Arbor for them. And
many shows are now accepting the very artists or kinds of work that
they threw out before just to fill their shows.
This is the story of many shows. I agree with Lilli. Start your own
shows. But, keep control. DON'T become a non-profit. DON'T hire
anyone to run it. Keep it small. Make it's purpose to sell your work,
not to "educate" the public. Don't put it anywhere that can be taken
from you. More good shows have been ruined by someone coming in to
city councils telling them they can run it better and make more money
for the city if they just give the show to them to run. Put it in
someone's barn, rent a small hall, on someone's farm, anything that
you can keep control of. If you don't, your show will go the way of
all of the others.
sacredclay on tue 26 aug 08
--- In email@example.com, Lili Krakowski wrote:
> A very worrisome aspect of shows is that they have become some
> sort of touchstone, trophy, "goal" for novices---who are prodded
> into thinking that they "must" compete, "must" enter shows,
> "must"--who knows.
As always, Lili, it is pure joy to read you. Alot of times, I agree
with the general gist of your postings. Many of them have caused me
to look at something in a different way, whether it's to reaffirm or
reject the argument. Yes, there are alot of shows going on. Some are
highly coveted, but whatever the case, they look great on the resumes.
Especially when one is asking for a grant from a foundation to help
them with their chosen field. The last time I did a show was 20 odd
years ago. I've been a ceramic teacher since 2000, after taking time
out for motherhood. Now I'm looking at the application and it says to
list shows I've done. I don't think a twenty years old show is gonna
make the grade. I've always struggled with the lack of financial means
for the studio,etc. (the same story for others). My point is, dear
Lili, is yes, I do feel the need for a trophy to put on that blank
paper. I'm anxious to prove my ilk. I KNOW I can do it. Kelly did it.
Many others have, too. If it shows how valuable to continue to support
an artist worthy, then anything that comes after "List showings"
should help. I've attended Parsons School of Design. It impressed the
hell out of some employees and probably cinched a few jobs for me. But
it was one of the worst school I've ever attended. If a long list of
showings will help me do the same, then yes, I feel the pressure to go
get that trophy. Perhaps, it's to silence that finger that keeps
tapping on some of us shoulders, saying, "Who the hell are you
kidding???" Looking forward to your next postings with joy. Mwah!
Kathryn Hughes in NC