Open Air-Gallery represents two artists: my husband and me. With my new career as a full time artist, I decided to go ahead and form our virtual gallery this past fall. The virtual gallery is of course our website but it sometimes appears in 3D and when it does, we're in the open air.
Our shared painting studio resides in our "cottage"( code word for a small house). We moved our bed out of our master bedroom and moved in easels, tables, etc. several years ago. It's certainly not a master bedroom any longer. It's an organized mess and the splotches of paint on the carpet are not a pretty sight but I have realized it's a sign of productivity, which is a good thing for an artist. As you can expect, our studio is not a huge space, but we make it work, sometimes bumping into each other as we work.
One morning this past spring, I looked out onto our wooded yard and pondered how I could get our work seen without renting viewing space, asking to hang our work on the walls of a restaurant, coffee house, etc. or having to be invited by a gallery. I remembered an artist acquaintance who had a studio show in his downtown loft and I've read of other artists having studio shows and doing very well. There is also an artist in my town that holds two shows a year in her home and advertises it in the newspaper. And so I considered that since our home has our studio it might be conceivable to have a "home/studio" art event. As I continued looking out the window I thought, "It's too bad that our house is not as big as our yard" and then it hit me: have the show outside and let the trees hold our art. The event would of course need a name and that is where Open Air Gallery came to mind.
I thought the name was clever and creative until I Googled "open air gallery" and found out my concept was not original but hey, it's still very cool and so I stayed with the idea. We haven't had our first "yard show" yet but I've paved the way by doing some other things.
I decided to first take our show on the road which meant outside under a tent at a local art fair. I sent in the jury fee and photos of our work and Open Air Gallery was accepted to participate. We purchased the white tent and bought pegboard to display our work. Pegboard, isn't the best backdrop in which to display art but it's the cheapest. We cut three 8 ft. x 4 ft. board in half and used large "S" hooks to hang them to the frame of the tent which worked out well because the heavy pegboard also weights the tent down. Smaller "s" hooks were used to hang the work. I painted a sign and threw a cloth over a card table and the end result was folksy and quaint.
The day of the art festival was sunny and scorching hot, 104 degrees. It was like a sauna which ninety nine percent of the town folks did not want to be in and therefore chose to remain at home in air conditioning. The oppressive heat resulted in low attendance. We sold 5 paintings though, which paid for our jury fee and tent set up and we packed up at the end of the day feeling OK with our new venture.
After this festival, I set up the website. I researched art website domains, chose one, and in a couple of weeks had it up and running all by myself (openair-gallery.com) and without paying out very much cash. Since the website represents two artists, my husband and me, I decided to use Open Air Gallery for the website rather than using our own names. If you don't have a website, please consider getting one. Trust me, if I can set one up, ANYONE can. The art site I chose made the process easy, accessible, and reasonably priced. Since setting up Openair-gallery.com, I have found marketing myself and Bob so much easier. When I apply for a juried festival or show I only need to refer them to the website.
I did just that last September when I sent in an application for a Fall Festival that we were accepted to and participated in two weeks ago. I plan on writing about that one experience next and already have the title: "The Fall Festival that Fell Flat." Bye for now.