Behind the Green Door

free to read stories on line - Spike' -behind the Green Door

below is a  fictional story by painters TUBES contributor and art critic ‘Spike’ First published in 2017 Tubes thought it was worth another run out. ‘Spike’ is currently writing his new book – ‘passage to another existence’ to be serialised by painters Tubes new website in the summer – free to read and download (perhaps something to read on the beach?) information and publishing dates to follow….but for now here is…

“…behind the Green Door.”

written by ‘Spike’ © 2017-2019

I strolled through the car park sucking on my empty pipe and coming to terms with an altered perception of my existence. A figure approached me. “Hey mate have you got any skins.” He asked me. I took a step back as I cautiously looked him over. He was a youngish man with a wild haircut and friendly eyes. “No.” I said a little startled by him having spotting me in the shadows. “You see mate, we’re doing our first set of new tunes tonight, it will be an all night rehearsal thing for a gig this weekend. The drummer remembered to bring the weed but forgot to bring the skins, the dick head.” He said with a grin. “Oh I see, what is it you want from me again?” I was still unsure what he was talking about. “You know mate, papers…’skins’ to make a spliff.” I stared open eyed back at him. “It’s just for a smoke mate whilst we are playing.” He said. Still a little confused, as I didn’t know what he was referring to in the first place, I replied. “You can borrow my pipe, if you want.” Then I pushed my arm and hand forward, holding the pipe up with some reverence. “Nice one man.” The young man said. “You can come up to the rehearsal room if you want and have a poke, that’s if you like to try the weed.” I thought about the word ‘Poke’.  I presumed he meant a smoke of his ‘wacky baccy’. I agreed to the offer of the poke and followed him through the yard to the old buildings urine smelling elevator, which we had to take as the rehearsal rooms, which was on the third floor of the old cotton mill building. It’s odd, I thought, why these young people never take the stairs?
He looked to the corners of the lift.“Bands today man, what are they like? They piss everywhere, they think they’re all fucking Oasis or something.” The boy showed disgust at his fellow musicians lack of respect and I was more empathic about their bladder control. We arrived on the third floor and was greeted by the mural I had painted many years ago of the Beatles. I looked at the mural casually, but made no comment about it. The paint was slowly fading away, but somehow that gave it more authenticity. “Sort of ironic reminder of Pop music.” Said the young musician and he pointed to the mural. “Why ironic?” I asked him. “You know, it’s fading away, like all pop bands fade away, when their fans fade away. or grow old and die” Then he laughed.
These old rehearsal studios were very old, but loved by the local musicians, because they are cheap to rent space in. The building carried a renown musical history going back several decades. I first came here as a young ambitious artist, wanting to be around the new music that was exploding onto the scene at that time. They called the place ‘Green Door,’ due to the large metal doors of the entrance that were painted green for as long as anyone can remember – I knew why they were that colour of course, because it was the one that painted them, when I first created the wall mural of the Beatles on either side of the doors.
The young man and I walked through the Green Door and there seated on two old leather sofas was the rest of the band. He introduced to each of them in turn. “Ok, this is Monny our Singer and this is Spider our lead genius guitar and this is Woody our mad drummer and I’m Smiffy the quite one on base. And this guys is the provider of the pipe, sorry man but didn’t catch your name?” The he said. I shook each of their hands and introduced myself as Spike, my own nickname back in the day. “And I’m the bands public relations expert.” A young blonde girl came out from one of the side recording rooms, she held out her hand. She resembled an updated version of Marilyn Monroe with heavy red lipstick, matching finger nails and the possessor of an curvy figure. She shook my hand gently, but firmly. “Pleased to meet you, my name is Anthea.” She said, “But the band call me Andy.”
Are you an artist? She asked me. “Of sorts.” I replied. Before Anthea could develop the conversation Smithy had loaded the pipe, fired it up and handed it to me. Blue smoke already filled the air accompanied by the sweet aroma of marijuana. I decided to be polite and not refuse to partake and sucked on the pipe before blowing out a cloud of smoke. It caught my throat and I coughed. “Good Mary Jane.” I said. The band looked at me confused. “You know, – MJ.” I said. They laughed at the dated references to the drug, as each of them took turns to suck and blow in between refilling the pipe with the weed. “Did you say you’re an Artist?” The singer said. “I was a painter, many moons ago.” I answered. “You didn’t you do that old mural at the entrance did you?” The lead guitarist asked. “Guilty as charged”. I said smiling. “And I was actually paid for doing it.” I replied. “That’s sick man” ‘Woody’ said and after a silent pause in the group conversation.
“I thought it was Ok when I did it, but it may look sick now I guess.” I replied. Smiffy explained that ‘sick’ was good and not ‘sick’ as in meaning bad. “Nice one, I always wondered who painted it, now I’ve met him.” Said Spider laughing.
My company is called Sync-In” The blonde bombshell interjected. “That’s with a ‘Y’ and a ‘C’. She clarified her companies name by handing me her business card. I looked at it impassively. ‘Sync-In’…keeping you in touch with todays sounds. The card said. “That’s Cool” I replied to her card, trying to appear as ‘cool’ as any old man could be, given the present company who’s average age I guessed to be no more than twenty one years old. “Are you a well known artist?” She asked. I stuttered a little before answering her. “Yes, but only to myself.” I said and the band laughed. The pipe finally arrived at me again and I took one huge drag and then passed it on to the blonde bombshell. “Oh, thanks, don’t mind if I do.” She said politely. “Hey mate” Smiffy shouted. “Wanna hear a tune or two in a bit?” “Sure.” I answered enthusiastically. After all I had nowhere else to go, also the blonde bombshell intrigued me. We walked into one of the smaller rehearsal rooms and the band began to warm up their respective instruments.
Andy Sandy sat next to me. “They are really good” She said. “I’m organising a video for the BBC New Sounds show. “We decided to record a live gig.” She purred. After numerous twangs of electric wire strings and drum rolls, the band launched themselves into their first new song. ‘Smiffy’ created a base line that led the lead guitarist into a hook line whilst ‘Woody’ became one with his set and clicked his sticks together to ascertain the beat, his bobby hat being the only thing in view behind the large drum set. The band spun-off from each other as the rhythm and lyrics began to slowly gel together into a melodic beginning.
It went well until Andy decided she wanted the band to rehearse how they would appear on stage, (for the video). She began positioning them, explaining from which best direction they would be videoed. The band went along with her for a while. Then Woody got up from his drums and went back to the sofa, quickly followed by Smiffy leaving only the lead guitarist and Monny.
I excused myself and joined Smiffy on the sofa. He sat smoking my pipe and looking glum. “She does my head man.” I looked at him with sympathy. “I mean, don’t get me wrong, she’s good at what she does, but I don’t see why she has to be at rehearsals every fucking week. I mean she maybe shagging Monny, but for fucks sake…we gotta get some real rehearsing time in..seriously man…we a’int anywhere near tight enough yet for this BBC gig.”
He took a suck on my pipe and then handed it to me. “You know she is probably wasting her time anyway.” I said to Smiffy. “What d’you mean?” He sensed I was on his side. “Well, of all the best bands I’ve ever seen in here, and thats like hundreds and hundreds in my time.”  I stopped for a puff on my pipe. “How old are you man.” Smiffy said. “As old as pop music my boy”. I said with a wry smile. “Now as I was saying, of them all, the very best didn’t so much play music as feel it.” “Well yea, we all do feel the sounds man, what’s that gotta do with Andy and her fucking about with our rehearsing time?”  “Perhaps you should mention to Monny that if the video is to be of any substance, musically speaking, then Andy should video you exactly how you feel when you are performing the tunes. No rehearsals are needed for that. You should be creating the togetherness at rehearsals and only performing the sounds at the gig. If anyone has to be in rehearsals at all, they should be like me, invisible. That way it will be a great video and not a cheesy one, like so many of these video artists seem to be these days.”
“If he’ll listen, I think he goes deaf when he sees her big knockers, he can’t concentrate on the words of the tune.” He was right, as in so many cases, personal or physical relationships and creating music cannot be mixed and if they are, generally it’s for the worse, at least that’s according to my observations of the years. #” The mad thing is Andy’s got a brilliant voice – I want her to be in the band – and be a sort of co-singer – that would have solved everything- but I was out-voted.
I persuaded, with a promise of support for many of Smithy’s viewpoints, and persuaded him and Woody to go back into the rehearsal room and try again to play at least one song from top to bottom without Monny’s girlfriend’s involvement.
Andy was still positioning Spider and Monny for camera angles as we walked in. When the band set up again she sat down next to me. “So, Andy, tell me, are you planning to be on stage with the boys at the gig?” She looked at me as if I had insulted her. “Of course not, this is about the Band and not me.” I sucked on the pipe, which was, by now empty. “Oh, I see, I thought you would be.” I said. “Why? She asked turning towards me. “It would be natural for you to do it wouldn’t it? or have you employed a camera person for the job? “Not exactly, the BBC said they would have to use their own camera people.” “I see, so you have no real input with them do you” “None at all.” She said. “Yet I hear you have a good voice? – Couldn’t you persuade Monny to be a back up for him.”   I asked. ” Well you know what bands are like…they are very funny about letting in new members.” She with a frown on her forehead. “I see so now, you are trying to get the band to put themselves in a position on stage as if you would be filming them, so you are involved, is that it?” “Well, I hadn’t thought of it like that but I suppose so.” I looked at the pipe and looked at Andy. “Could you do me a favour.” I asked. “Depends on what it is.” She said with a cheeky smile on her face. “Can you find something to put into this.” I held up the pipe. “I believe you will some ‘weed’ in Woody’s jacket on the sofa. Andy obliged and being a bright girl, I think she was thinking about our conversation, and seriously thinking about making music for herself.
The band began their first tune of the night. And repeated the introduction as they had before. This time Monny was concentrated.
Rain, rain, rain, rain, rain, rain” ‘Monny’ sang and faded out the last of words as ‘Spider’ caressed his electric tool and produced an addictive repetition of notes. Smiffy played a pulsating captivating hook base line throughout. Monny looked up from the staring at the floor and began to sing with emotional power. “A million thoughts are spinning round my head, a sinking feeling like I’m in a dream.” He continued. “Remembering all the things I could have said…to you.” He turned to face the drummer and turned back grabbing the microphone in one movement while simultaneously upping the volume of his voice. “When you’re gone there’ll be no second chance, you made your bed now lie in it.” The rest of the bands volume increased three fold and Monny roared. “Rain on me and wash away my tears, shine on me and brighten up my years.” Spider played a haunting solo on lead as Woody rammed the drums with powerful expression. The instruments then fell silent except for the faint base rhythm played by Smiffy. Monny looked down at the floor and shook his head from side to side as if he was crying. He looked up at the ceiling and quietly sang with a sad delivery. “We all come to a bridge of life.” Monny then looked to his side and then looked directly at me. “Has it ever occurred no-one crosses it?” The guitar kicked in much louder and the drummer became a blur of flashing sticks. “Rain on me” ‘Monny’ cried out and then repeated the same lyric as he expanded the line. “I’m taking one day at a time, one day at a time” He followed it swiftly with an emotional tone. “Rain on me and wash away my tears”. He pleaded “Shine on me and brighten up my years.” He asked with passion. He repeated the line “Brighten up my years.” Building up to a crescendo. As the band slowly played in unison to the fore with an immense addictive sound. It was, I thought, the best song I had ever heard for many a year behind the Green Door.
I found myself standing up accompanied by Andy, who had come back into the room smoking and hot. At the end of the song I collapsed exhausted into the chair. “I have to leave.” I said. “Wanna a poke before you go?” ‘Monny’ asked me. I looked at the pipe and looked at Andy. “No thanks Monny, but you can keep the pipe, because that was what I call a great tune.”
I walked to the Green Doors, as I opened them I turned my head to the band. “What do you call yourselves?” ‘Monny’ rose to his feet and proudly said “Teaser.” “That’s with a very big ‘Z’ in the middle” Andy added. “ I looked at Andy –  “Let the band do the video exactly as they have, it will be a smash hit. I said and walked out of the room making my way towards the urine perfumed elevator, but detoured towards stairs, preferring the smell of mould and dirt to that of urine.
Rain on me and wash away my tears, Shine on me and brighten up my years.” A tear fell as I sang the tune as I slowly walked down the stairs and through the yard and back into my non-existence, that is until the next time I cross the bridge of space and time to once again go behind the Green Door.
 
end

This story is dedicated to the memory of John Monaghan and the band Teaser, Manchester UK.

All lyrics in quotes are the copyright of Teaser©1996-1998

 

an illusionary world of Artistic freedom

I strayed across an interesting old video on You Tube. It was was on those that you find popping up on a feed after you have watched something similar, which is annoying. But, it got me thinking about the relationship between Artistic freedom and Modern Religious Art. This particular You Tube discussion, come lecture, come educational piece, was presented by a line up of tenured academics and young post graduate teachers.

The panel argued how Contemporary Art institutions reacted negatively to work that was based in some sort of religious subject.The discussion started after an initial lecture by one of the Academics, David Thyrell. So began two hours of surprising statements, amusing quotes, some fairly logical reasoning, heart felt speeches and many contradictions from an art academic viewpoint.

painters Tubes magazine/Denis Taylor Artist and Editor
The penance of St. Jerome 1529, 105×80 cm • Oil, Wood by Jacob Pontormo

Thyrell reckoned that… “Only Art that is critical of (western) religion of faith is acceptable as Contemporary Art. And all other art that could be read as religious, is translated to one of a post minimalistic view.” (And)…”that all references to faith and religion is edited out at source”. (And)…”the contemporary Art world does not seek any debate on this form of art because they see it as non-progressive, as propagandistic and not supportive of an advancing culture or indeed, enlightening mankind for the new centuries ahead of us.”Thyrell spoke with passion and summed up his lecture by stating”it seems, that religious work that is non-specific, for example, non-stated religious, ambiguous or totally abstracted with very loose associations, are acceptable as Contemporary Art. Providing the images are not from a Judeo Christian slant. However, the tribal, the Asiatic or the cultism subjects are OK.“

Judaeo-Christian made up the bulk of the audience (note: it was held at a Roman Catholic University) I guessed they must have been appalled by the status-quo of the implied bigotry against religious art levelled against the- ‘Artists of Faith’ – as they call themselves. For me personally, there is no need to be religious specific to appreciate (or create) Art that is good, even if that Art owns its very existence to institutions of any religion persuasion who sponsored it, or indeed created by an artist that holds a particular belief system or faith.

painters Tubes magazine/Denis Taylor Artist and Editor
detail of Pontormo’s ‘deposition’ (1525‒28) at the church of Santa Felicita, Florence

Good Art is what floats my boat, I don’t care who or why or for whom it was created for.

As for the rest of the Art that floods the web and the mass media art reviews, much of that Art that personally I find sort of shallow, egoistically based, trendy or with intellectual invested admiration intentions, I simply pass quickly by, metaphorically speaking, without so much as a cursory thought. For me to be anguished by an Art as the above, only goes to validate it as important to human cultural advancement, which I think it is not.

Most artists, (those I do know personally), when looking at a work of art that could be deemed as ‘Religious’, tend to ignore the possible original intended propaganda or dogma of it, but rather they concentrate on the pure magic of the Art work in front of them. For example some the work of by Pontormo and El Grego, to mention only two (religious) painters of the far distant past, whose work I greatly admire and gain much from. After a while I began to feel that the lecture, come debate, was myopic, but Thyrell’s argument did instigate an examination of my own thoughts on the subject of Modern Art & Freedom of Creation and Modern Religious beliefs in our, so called, multi-sectarian developed Western societies.

If a contemporary artist can go beyond an intellectual subject matter and demonstrate a visual power conducted via an innermost and deeply held belief, then surely that is still a vital and sustainable contemporary Art, is it not? No matter what religion the creator of that art subscribes too, or not as the case maybe. After all, isn’t atheism a brand of religion by another name?

painters Tubes magazine/Denis Taylor Artist and Editot
Rothko Chapel Texas USA (rothkochapel.com)

If we look closer to our own time, rather than the centuries when the Church and Monarchies of Rome and Spain dominated major art commissions, say from the early and middle centuries, we can find a new sort of religious art. Malevich, Kandinsky, Mondrian and the like studied theosophy and talked of a ‘spiritual’ art. Pollock, used the practises of the the Indian Sand Painters, which involved connection with ancestors souls or spirits. Rothko and the gang of colour field painters also spoke of mediative involvement and introspection. Are all those artworks a form of religion? If you have ever visited the Rothko ‘Chapel’ in Texas, you’ll know what I am talking about. And what of Chagall. Are his paintings nothing more than illustrated nostalgia based on childhood memories of stories taken from the Old Testament? Or let’s take Vincent Van Gough, was not his paintings a projection of the love of nature reinterpreted through his own deep seated belief in a universal God? How about Agnes Martin or Sam Francis, each with a Buddhist inclination for transcendentalism or meditation. Is that not religious Art ?

paintersTubesmagazine.com
Sam Francis painting in his studio

In the early 20th century the word nihilistic art was being brandished about to describe the work of the Futurist (Italy), whose dogma was Machines and War to cleanse society and shock it out of it’s perceived malaise [of the time]. The Dada movement used the same framework with banal poetry, non-sensical drama and outlandish visual presentations [to hide away from and in reaction to the horrors of World War One]. Again, the essence here is that the Dada movement believed in something – however abstract that was – rather than nothing. And this obtuse oddity of their belief carried on manifesting itself decades later as the impatience of post-modernist [young] artists and the ambitious driven post-post modernists, and the current belief that ‘selling art, means that it must be good ‘Art’ – And made by a succesful artist (rounds of applause by living painters, can be heard here on instagram and facebook) which where I guess we find ourselves in today’s visual art world.

Though, just maybe the web is changing the ground rules. I don’t know about you, but when I view art on the web, I find more and more of it has a growing and obvious ‘belief-structure’ of some kind behind it. And much of it is good Art, mostly created by ‘unknowns’. Sure, there is still that twee stuff and the obvious bash it out to sell it for financial gain ‘ hamburger art’, not forgetting the overly academic art whitterings of art professors and so called art intellectuals who try to convince the audiences in the cities of the world, that this piece of stuff or that offerings of purely conceptual ideas, is great progressive Art (and not just simply a novel or good idea). After all it does put a high monetary value sticker on it, provided it is accompanied by the obligatory academic recommendations, especially if the Art has the blessings of Art Directors of state run institutions.

essayaffirm72

So, do Artists have total freedom to create what Art they want?  Maybe not entirely, if you agree with David Thyrell in the You Tube video I mentioned earlier. Is Religious Art (in all it’s manifestations) making a comeback? The Zeitgeist signs suggests it may well be, but not in the ‘normal’ sense of the word. In this world of the politics of infusing the inhabitants with psychological terror, global climate change fear, mega disaster predictions, the accelerating greed for money and power, irresponsible political leaders and not forgetting the inhumanity to humanity we witness daily, a world that we live in today (and perhaps always have). Maybe it’s not such a bad ambition for visual artists to ascend to a higher level and start to transmit messages of hope. And if you’ll pardon the religious, (come 1960’s hippy reference and of course the Artist known as John Lennon) visual art messages of Love and Peace, for all who reside on this tiny insignificant planet tucked away in the corner the limitless time and space of the universe.

As David Byrne once wrote,

Heaven is a place, where Nothing ever happens.”

So, now I have to gather my courage and meander slowly to my studio, where another blank space awaits. I wonder what will appear? I guess I just have to have faith that something of real artistic value will show itself, maybe even holding the restorative creative power of the universe itself ?

One never knows, that’s one reason to be an Artist, isn’t it?

©2018/2019 written by Denis Taylor, Artist and Editor of painters Tubes magazine

the universe - on painters Tubes magazine
small part of the many Universes – photograph from NASA

 
 

Time Travel is never easy…

Denis Taylor Greek Studio work
Aegina island in the Saronic Gulf. Greece

…way back in 1986, I decided to become a full time artist (painter). At least painting full time when it was possible. My self imposed rule #1 – was “to live for Art, and not live off Art.” – which sort of boxed me in, as I still needed to earn a living. This I did by working in a variety of jobs, writing articles and catalogues and selling the occasional canvas to interested parties, or taking on commissions, but only when someone asked me.
Somehow, years later, I found myself ensconced on island called Aegina. The island is close to Piraeus (19 kilometers) and thus Athens, where I could buy (piecemeal) oil paint, when I had the money, for Art supplies that is. It was here that I confronted the age old enemy of creatives – Ego – And it was here that I defeated it, albeit with the help of an invisible helping hand, which many people call their God. Unlike my home in Northern Europe, the Greek belief system was strong, and it would be unnatural for any creative not to absorb the atmosphere that surrounds them. The outcome was work which, up to then, I had never envisaged painting. This was linked to an incident, one that is too long to explain here, but let me just say, a miracle occurred that saved my life.
Oil painting by Denis Taylor 1993
“Stoned” painting created on Aegina island.

Time passed and my collection of paintings grew. Eventually I met my future wife, on another island, where I had accepted a commission to paint ‘Walls’ for a Greek friend who was setting up a ‘Rock and Roll cafe on Anti-Paros, a very small island in the Cyclandic’s. This chance meeting led to a Gallery exhibition in Stockholm (1995) and another one in the same year, before I knew where I was I had several shows, created a ‘radical’ group of mixed media Artists and curated, designed and participated in three major exhibitions, one of which was a commissioned [non paying] job for the Swedish Government Estonia Trust Fund and the International  Support Group, that one took over four years to complete [sic: Heart 2 Art- Stockholm January 2002]. And all the time, keeping to my #1 artists rule, I was earning a living doing other things [in the UK] remotely or directly.
Almost twenty years later, and now an artist in the Grey hair sector, I and my wife could scrape together enough time and money to spend a month on Aegina [July 2018]. And, as luck would have it, we were able to take my ‘Greek-Niece’ up on her kind offer to stay at her family home – which just happens to be above my old studio from all those decades ago. Hence the ‘time travel’ headline of this post.
Denis Taylor English Artist, Writer and Exhibition Curator
Studio 4 – Aegina island Greece

The studio had not been lived in or attended to for some years (my niece no longer lives there) And nature had began to take the place over. I resolved to spend the cooler mornings and late evenings bringing the place into ship shape. Mainly because I couldn’t bare to see it in that condition, and I wanted to ‘feel’ what I felt when I was a much younger artist, how I’d grown and developed in comparison, which was insightful. I recalled every single canvas I had painted there, in that place, the struggles, the ecstasy of a breakthrough and the disappointment of failure. I remembered the people, those characters who became more than close friends, now most of them, passed to the other side. At the back of the house I found my white plastic chair, and another for visitors, who would sit with me to discuss the painting I would have been currently working on.
I was time travelling, inside my mind, as I doggedly swept and moped, and swept and moped again and fought the weeds that had embedded themselves in ever crack and cranny. My human form bled salty water from every pore in its body, to cool itself down, but my mind was far to busy ‘travelling back in time’ to take any heed or warning to rest up and drink water.
At the end of all this, my voyage ended with a realisation of what I had actually achieved in Art per se, despite my rule #1, or because of it – And a truly personal sadness, that I could not share with them, that their high expectations, ones they were convinced that I could achieve in Art, had been.
So, ‘Time Travel’ is not easy – for many reasons – but I am sure it’s a trip everyone takes at some point in their life, the good, the bad, the tears the happiness. That’s what it’s all about, isn’t it?
Denis taylor Artist and Writer - Aegina island.
One evening the sky talked of the past

posted and written by Denis Taylor. Artist and Writer.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

New Special Edition of Tubes magazine

“artists of the revolution”

full feature of how artists reflected the industrial revolution art from 1900 to today.

Publishing release date 30th July – not to be missed. Free to read on line. Printed edition available by reserving you ‘summer special printed edition – Only £8 + post and packing per magazine.

Subscribe to painters Tubes magazine – 3 months or 6 months or 12 months at £7.00 plus post and packing per issue through 2018

painters Tubes magazine, summer special edition
new summer special edition of Tubes

"…pay for space and art comps…are they really worth it? "

Below is an extract of an article by ‘Spike’ from the latest issue of Tubes magazine – Spike is the resident critic of painters Tubes magazine.
Artists to read the full article. You can register as ‘preview’ reader on line (free to read full magazine) by emailing Tubes with your name and email putting ‘register me’ in the subject line. A password protected link will be emailed back to you. tubes@telia.com

painters Tubes magazine , art critic, Spike, talks about pay for galleries (vanity)Vanity (pay for exhibition space) Galleries, are they worth it?

…..so, what is an alternative to the favoured High Street galleries for the artists who cannot break the cycle of rejection, (however reluctant that may be, from a Galleries viewpoint). The so called ‘Vanity’ galleries have been around for decades and over the last two decades they have sprouted up everywhere, in one form or another. It is rarely they that are bothered or (overly) concerned about the quality of the artists work, the ones who wish to pay them for their space.

This type of gallery is in the business of renting ‘the space only,’ usually in a well located high street shop, for a profit. They use a branded banner on the outside and send out invitations of ‘applications,’  usually from commercially acquired mass emailing lists of artists, ones that are gleaned from, you guessed it, Social Media platforms. Some advertise directly on mass media or other social media with attractive wording that will entice the Artist to go one step further and start a conversation with their ‘curator’ (read Salesman). It’s only when you actually read the ‘deal’ that you discover that it will cost a ‘shit-load’ of your own money, that you begin to temper the ego and dreams of exhibiting in a gallery with that of your own financial reality.

Those who are brave and drown out the ‘money’ objection, one being screamed at them for all corners, convince themselves that they will ‘break even’ financially – if only given the chance to show their work, but usually they have either, miscalculated the cost, or are unaware of what it takes to ensure a reasonably successful ‘selling’ exhibition. Or they simply cannot get past the artistic  ‘blue-sky’ thinking syndrome. Not so long a go I did a cost analysis of exhibiting in a ‘pay-for-space’  gallery. This was based on an out of City centre location, (in the UK) with reasonably accurate costs for space, marketing, transportation and so on. The final figure came out at a cost for a 5 to 6 day solo exhibition of around £3500 ($4,800). Major City centre space was nearer double that price, when I looked further into it. That’s a lot of painting to sell, based on the market average price for a half decent sized canvas for an unknown painter, at the lower (attractive) ‘stip-end’ market price level of around £350 each (circa $500), So is it worth it? Just for friends and family to rub ones ego and confirm you are a good artist?

Painters Tubes magazines acritic takes a stab at pay for galleries
©ARNY – Sweden 

How about selling on the web and creating a virtual reality exhibitions on your own website?

Sure, but I would suggest for that to be really successful, (i.e. selling on a regular basis for a consistent period of time) the artist will need a very good e-commerce enabled website (i.e. one that is not cheap to acquire and maintain) – And spend a great deal of time making strategic posts on social media – Or hire someone to do that specific task, and with a regular advertising budget. In this case I would suggest an annual budget for Marketing and PR of in excess £3000 per annum, for doing it all yourself, or £5000 to £8,000 annually, to hand this ‘job’ over to a professional full time SEO and art marketeer to do it for you. Who will no doubt, not give you any guarantee of a return for your money.

painters Tubes magazine - what do you benefit from by entering art competitions?
©ARNY- Sweden

How about entering Art Competitions to gain recognition?

Why not, if you can live with the rejection element, nine out of ten times of entering the ones that, according to their pre-publicity, ‘give You the chance of lifetime’ to be internationally famous. Let’s be honest here, it’s a bit of lottery. The important thing to remember is, who does the judging – Usually there is an academic, a curator, another well known person who knows (not a lot) about art and the winner from the previous years competition. So the winning entries are somewhat vacuous in their preferences because of their own bias to one form of art or another. There again, if you actually ‘Win’ or come second or third, what does it bring you? – Well if it’s a National Competition’ then about 15 minutes of fame and a commission from the sponsors of the Competition, and loads of Facebook likes and messages of congratulations (ego gratification again). Plus, maybe 3 minutes on a You Tube video interview or a feature in your local newspaper.  The rest of the smaller comp’s are really a bit like Vanity Galleries, except they don’t make as much money out of the ‘customer’.  It can cost around £30 to enter three paintings to an ‘average’ competition – And if you are short listed you have to physically take your paintings to a central point – for ‘further judging’ and then schlep them back again (when rejected), which can cost you up to ‘whatever’-  depending how far away you live form the nominated place of ‘drop-off’. The on-line ‘competitions, to my mind, are simply a money gathering exercise, full stop. And, again only in my opinion, are really not worth bothering with (unless they are free to enter of course).

If my experience(s) of ‘unknown’ Artists exhibiting endeavours, ones that I have come to discover or hear of the experiences of, over these last 40 years in the Art world, sound to be full of negative thinking and perhaps a little depressing, well that may well be true, but I have tried to be down to earth, and look at the whole arts selling ‘ball game’ realistically. To balance that train of negativity and on a more positive note, there is another and, I think, a far better way of exhibiting your Art at a reasonable cost, but perhaps entailing a lot more personal effort and time from the artist. It’s not a new idea, but one worth looking into…..      (continued in the next issue of painters Tubes magazine)

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