This article is by Carolyn Henderson, the managing half of Steve Henderson Fine Art. She is a Regular contributing writer for FineArtViews and her freelance writing appears in regional newspapers, online magazines, and her humor blog, Middle-Aged Plague.
When our oldest progeny were teenagers, they frequently observed that my husband, the Norwegian Artist, and I were not “spontaneous enough.” What they specifically meant, we never could get a handle on, but I gather it had to do with dropping everything and all six of us going to a movie, or announcing that we were all heading to Hawaii – tomorrow, or driving to town for groceries and coming back with a new vehicle, just because.
By those standards we were plodding tortoises indeed, but it wasn’t until the fledglings dropped out of the nest and flapped around for awhile that they realized slow, meticulous, steady, reliable, persistent, and determined were qualities that – while they might be on the boring side of the spectrum – weren’t necessarily horrible
Everybody likes to eat.
Spontaneous to me implies lack of thought and planning, a certain what-the-heck-I’ll-jump-and-I-hope-there’s-something-on-the-other-side attitude, not to be confused with funloving, adventurous, exploratory, and bold. As an artist working to get your work out there, you are bold indeed. If you keep good records, analyze your situation and what’s coming up, plan for various contingencies, and research new possibilities before trying them, this does not take away from your boldness. It simply adds intelligence and acumen to it.
Ten minutes ago I returned from hanging a mini-show at a community gathering spot, and the coordinator, an artist who is heavily involved in the civic art scene and who no doubt would describe himself as spontaneous, artless, unstructured, and exciting, drove me nuts. Actually, he drove me nuts two weeks before when we, or rather I, was trying to schedule a time to hang the show.
“Oh, any time’s good,” he said airily. “Just pop in.”
“But when the building isn’t in use, it’s locked.”
“Oh, you’ll just need to find the manager and arrange it with her. I don’t have her number, though. I think she works out of town.”
So much for anytime.
But enough of that. After a long enough conversation, it was determined that the coordinator himself had a key and a cell phone, and I availed myself of both by pinning him to a specific time.
Amazingly, he showed up.
“Oh, we’ve never used one of these,” he said when I handed him an inventory sheet of the paintings to be hung.
“You do now,” I said and handed him a pen for his initials on the sheet. “There are no nails on the walls,” I observed.
“No, we have shelves. You just prop the pictures up.”
Maybe you do, but I don’t, not in a room thronged with crowds of jostling, bumping people. Ten minutes of gentle chit chat resulted in hanging brads being pounded into existing holes that at one time had held . . . hanging brads.
“So does the staff know how to effect a sale?” I asked, then stopped when I saw the look of horror on the coordinator’s face.
“Oh, we don’t actually do sales here,” he stammered. “That wouldn’t be right . . . mixing art and commerce. People call you if they’re interested.”
Is this person real?
Unfortunately so, but because he’s also spontaneous and willing to try new things, he had no problem with my brochure rack, business cards, and prominent information display on the Norwegian Artist.
I went into this project knowing that the prospect of actual onsite sales is low, but chose to move forward because this location draws in a big chunk of the community on a regular basis. In effect, it is a free advertisement to the local market of our new limited edition print line, and the press release in the local newspapers (which the coordinator does plan and see through to fruition) provides additional, free coverage.
I don’t know how it will all pan out – that’s the spontaneous part.
But it required little time and effort, other than dealing with the coordinator, and the Norwegian Artist’s prints are prominently displayed in one of the major watering holes of the county.
That’s the planning part.