Trend-spotting at SPECTOR

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[Ed note: Recently artist/gallerist Shelley Spector wrapped up a month-long series of open portfolio reviews in which an artist could sign up, pay $20 and have 15 minutes of Spector’s time — to show actual work (not slides), to talk about exhibition opportunities at the gallery or elsewhere and to get real world feedback. Here’s a post announcing the portfolio reviews, something we at artblog thought was a terrific idea for the gallery and for artists. I was curious how things went so called Spector up to get a briefing. Here’s part of our chat.]

RF So, how was it?

SS I liked it. I’m not sure how I’m going to incorporate it into the life of the gallery but I’ll probably do it again. There’s nothing like looking at actual work. (image is mixed media on wood by Laura Ledbetter, “Wishing You Were Here.”)

RF How many people signed up?


SS 60 people signed up for 15-minute sessions. 4 of them had 2 sessions.

RF 15 minutes seems adequate. how was it with 30?

SS For my purposes 15 minutes was more than enough time. Compare that to looking at a sheet of slides — which is what most galleries do. 15 minutes gave people time to ask questions.

RF So were people looking to get a slot with your gallery or were they looking more for general feedback? (image is Stephanie Corr-Gartanutti, wire sculpture.)

SS Everybody would have loved me to say “How’s October,” but really only two people actually said they wanted a show and expressed disappointment [when they didn’t get one.] Few people had strong agendas for coming in. If I wasn’t interested for my gallery I said to them “let’s see where else you might fit in or what else I can help you with — residencies and the like.” Some of the artists were not ready yet and so we’d talk about getting ready to show a body of work. One person wanted feedback for her upcoming first solo show in another space — for pricing and whatnot.

RF So did you like much of what you saw?

SS I found so much work I liked. It wasn’t like “starsearch” for art. It was an answer to my particular situation. 1. Philadelphia is a big art school city. 2. I get millions of invitations to shows I can’t see. 3. I was looking at my stable of artists and mission (support and foster young emerging local artists), and they’re 30 years old now and having shows nationally. 4. I’ve got to get in touch with what’s new out there. 5. I’ve got to define what I want to show. 6. I want to support myself and the local community. (image is Adam Parker Smith, mixed media)

RF So, I know it wasn’t about the new finds but who are the new finds we might see at SPECTOR in the future?

SS I did find someone and put her in the September show. Laura Ledbetter. She has a body of work ready to go. We had a schedule shift and an opening for the back space so I called her and said “How about September?”


RF What’s the work like?

SS She takes small wood plaques and mounts small model train figures in front of a tiny, detailed narrative scene. The figures are pinned to the surface but they stick out a bit in front. They’re around 5″ in every dimension. They’re simple and beautifully painted. She trained as a sculptor. MFA Syracuse 2003. She’s from Texas and new to Philadelphia. (image is Bill Lohre, cut paper and cardboard)

RF Sounds very interesting. Anybody else?

SS A lot of the artists will be in Red Dot. (Spector’s cash and carry Holiday sale in December) It’s a good way to show new artists. Lots of people didn’t have a whole body of work for an entire exhibit. But there are other artists I’m going to show who are not on the schedule yet.

RF Any trends?

SS Taxidermy. Also, I saw a lot of drawing. I would like to have another drawing show. I’m happy to report there were a lot of women artists because my stable is man-heavy. Also, speaking of men, I want to do a follow up to the great re-masters show and I found people to be in that.

Here’s another thing I noticed. There were two groups that came in, older artists and young right out of school artists. The older artists are all frustrated because they haven’t been treated well by other galleries — not given encouragement. And they’re tired of beating the pavement. The younger artists either have it together — a coherent body of work and thoughts about their future direction — or they’re clueless. Some were so confident they did all the talking and I wasn’t able to form a judgment because I was being sold so hard. (image is Caitlin Perkins, graphite on paper, “Jack Rabbit”)

People felt really good about Philly. That was nice. I didn’t hear them say “I’m going to move to New York.’

RF So you’ll do it again?

SS Yes, it was invigorating — meeting the people and getting feedback on what I’m doing. It really makes sense for the gallery.

Spector Gallery is on summer hiatus but will reopen with a bang in September.

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