A Minute in the City – June 5: The Show May or May Not Go On

It’s art show season! One of the few opportunities we have to meet artists and learn about their work. But this year, the pandemic has postponed or cancelled several high-profile shows at a time when we’re stuck at home, staring at blank walls.

As a regular exhibitor, I can tell you that there is still a way to bring new life to your walls, bookshelves and coffee tables. And there’s still a way to connect with artists who may see this time differently than you do.

If you feel reluctant to start a conversation with an artist, you’re not alone. Being face-to-face with the person who not only created the work, but is selling it, can be awkward. First, if you’re not an artist yourself – or sometimes, even if you are – you may feel uncertain about the medium or the lingo. So turn it over to the painter, the metalsmith, the textile artist. Most welcome the chance talk about their creations.

Second, you may like an artist’s style, but not the price tag. Don’t let that stop you from sharing what you like about their work. Money is not the only currency here. It really helps artists to understand their audience.

Finally, keep an open mind about the person behind the art. Artists are as different as the pieces they create. It is not unusual to meet executives or truck-drivers who have somehow managed to carve out time to do the thing they love most.

But how do you start a conversation with an artist when you don’t have a venue? How do you invest in their work during a pandemic?

  • First, visit event sites, such as explorestlouis.com and select a show. Even if the show is cancelled – and many are – you can still find links to artists’ galleries. Shop around!
  • If you find an artist you like, email them and line up a phone conversation. Talk to them about the pieces you’re interested in. Talk to them about the blank walls and shelves in your home. Ask about commissions.
  • If there’s a particular piece you have fallen in love with, get the dimensions from the artist. Measure your space to make sure it’s going to fit.
  • Finally, when your artwork is delivered, take stock. You now have a joyful remembrance of a most perplexing year. And you now have a friend in the arts who has brought new life into your home.

 

A YEAR IN THE CITY calendars, cards, and prints by Janet Muhm feature some of St. Louis’s most beloved places. Janet is currently scheduled to exhibit at Art Outside (Schlafly Bottle Works, Sept 4-6), Greentree Festival (Kirkwood Park, September 19-20), and Unique Boutique (John Burroughs School, November 21-22). You will find examples of her work at ayearinthecity.com or you may contact her directly at janet@ayearinthecity.com

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