I recently had a terrible experience at an art gallery. Just before Christmas I went into an art gallery looking to purchase an art piece for my aunt. I wanted to find her something cool and unique. Yes, I know one person at this gallery has an issue with me, but I was there as a consumer (not an exhibiting artist) and even so I was totally dismissed.
Who missed out here? The artists who were selling their work. Why? Because of the lack of professionalism on the part of the gallery representative.
I had friends who were going to meet me there and I called them and said “Let’s go to a coffee shop instead.” Again, the people who missed out are the artists simply because it was an uncomfortable, awkward situation. And quite frankly, I could not get out there fast enough. Why would I subject to my friends to a horrid evening when I could just call an artist friend and buy something from them or even go online to Etsy or Amazon and purchase something?
It made me start to really think about your personal life vs. your professional life. There are going to be people in this world that for some reason or another you don’t like or get along with, but how do you handle this when you are working as a Director, Assistant Director, Curator, gallery staff or even volunteers? The answer is quite simple….like a professional. You represent not only the gallery, but the artists who have entrusted you with putting your best foot forward to showcase their work.
The point here is that if you are in charge of exhibitions (or any other business) then you need to drop all of your personal baggage at the door. You need to smile, greet people and make anyone who steps in the door feel welcome. (You can hate them later on your own time.). People will share their great experiences at your gallery, restaurant, or store, but they will also share their bad experiences and those seem to be the ones that spark the most discussion.
Showing an exhibit is not only about bringing artists in, but about maintaining relationships and cultivating new ones. It’s about showing incredible artwork and making a mark on the creative world. Every person who walks in the door is a potential exhibiting artist, consumer or knows people who will exhibit or buy artwork. Your personal issues should not be the catalyst for artists losing sales or exposure or making contacts with anyone who can help further their artistic endeavors.
Art is supposed to connect people, not divide them.