In Memory of Tom Lee

Tom Lee
Our condolences go out to the friends and family of photographer Tom Lee, who passed away on October 14. Tom was a longtime member of OVAC and an admired artist who was an integral part of the Oklahoma arts community.  Below are links to several news stories honoring the memory of Tom Lee. View his photography at www.tomleephotographer.com.

Photo by Tom Lee.

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Artist Survival Kit Recap: Expanding Your Horizons

On Saturday, October 23, we held the “Expanding Your Horizons: Finding New Markets For Your Art” workshop at the Mainsite Contemporary Art Gallery in Norman. This topic is frequently requested by artists and was well-attended on a rainy Saturday.
The three speakers were Dr. Joy Reed Belt, owner of JRB Art at The Elms gallery in Oklahoma’s City’s Paseo District; along with two artists, Jonathan Hils and Kate Rivers.
Dr. Belt gave attendees advice from the gallery perspective, emphasizing the importance of defining what you want out of a gallery relationship and then finding the gallery that suits your desires as well as your artistic work.
The two artist speakers echoed Dr. Belt’s remarks, both saying their gallery relationships developed over time and were a product of networking and getting to know the people of the gallery and the artists that were represented there.
Kate Rivers outlined the “4 P’s” needed for developing a successful gallery relationship.
1. Product
As an artist, your product is your artwork. Many galleries require artists to have a certain number of pieces on hand at all times, and they should change regularly. Plan to create your product on a consistent basis.
2. Passion
Being a working artist is not easy, and it will take some drive and determination to keep going. Galleries will want to see that you’ve shown passion in your work through a history of artistic practice, as demonstrated through your resume.
3. Professional Practice
One of the best ways to foster a strong relationship with your gallery is to do as much as you can to make their job easier. This includes things like strong presentation of your work (framing, etc), providing quality images of your work, and consistent communication and record keeping.
4. Portfolio/Packet
Your portfolio will likely be your first introduction to a gallery. Be sure it looks as good as it possibly can! You absolutely must follow the submission instructions outlined by the gallery (no exceptions). If no guidelines are given, here’s a list of what you should include:
Letter of introduction
Artist’s statement
Artist’s resume (short version showing the highlights)
CD of ten images (unless the gallery requests something different)
Annotated image list
Reproductions of 2-3 works
Publicity from past shows
Contact information on EVERYTHING


The next Artist Survival Kit workshop will be “Oh, Snap! Documenting Your Work in Photos” on February 5, 2011. It will be held at the Oklahoma City Community College Art Department. Prior to the workshop, time slots will be available for artists to sign up to have their work photographed. More details coming soon at www.ArtistSurvivalKit.org

Gallery Relationships: Holly Wilson

In preparation for our Artist Survival Kit workshop, “Expanding your Horizons: Finding New Markets for your Art,” on Saturday, October 23, 2010, several artists who show regularly in venues outside Oklahoma will discuss their galleries, how they built the relationships and tips for other artists. 
Holly Wilson
Q: Where is your favorite gallery where you have shown, especially outside OK?


Holly Wilson, Red Dress,
Encaustic on Birch, 5×3″
Wilson: Goldesberry Gallery, Houston Texas!   I have said it to so many people it’s almost a joke. I have had most of my shows in Texas and have loved it. I’ve had three successful sole shows and that makes a difference. The Goldesberry Gallery was my first “Real” Gallery representation and while we have had our ups and downs it has been an amazing ride. They have grown and so have I.  Now I know what I need to be doing as a professional artist. For example:  inventory sheets, great photos of the work [before the show], updated information, and showing up with the work on time!

Q: Tell us about your most positive gallery relationships, what made them good? 

Wilson: In thinking of my most positive relationships I had to think of all my experiences with galleries, the good in contrast to the not so good, to really understand what is positive for me. For me the ability to communicate is paramount.  I want a gallery to be open to talk to whoever walks through the door about my work. Some gallery’s are too consumed with the game and I just recently realized that I am just not onboard with. I was sure that that was what I wanted; but I was just recently faced with that and I discovered it was not true. Now I hope that the gallery loves my work and that they will talk as if the work was from their own collection.  Last weekend I ran into a few people who had purchased some of my work several years ago. They seemed excited to see me and they said they still have the piece and told me where it sits and how they have enjoyed it for so many years. It really made my day, my week, my year and that’s how I want everyone to feel when they see or own my work. As I look at the galleries that have my work on their floor now I see that I have that and I hope I can continue this kind of relationship.

Q:  How did you initially find gallery representation and/or seek galleries outside of your community?

Holly Wilson, Cigar Girl Walking,
Bronze, Encaustic, Wood, 12.5x5x4″
Wilson: My first time to show in a gallery was before the Internet so it was all legwork, going into the galleries looking at the shows. And even with the Internet you still need to do that, if you can, to see the gallery in person and attend a show makes a big difference. You can see how the owners and the gallery staff are. Are they warm and friendly?  Would you feel they could tell the story of your art?
Before I got my first gallery I was told “no” by 5 galleries all in the same day. Number six said bring the work in and we will see what we think. Then later that night at another event I saw them again and they said to call them when I got the work home from another show and they would come see it. They drove 2 hours to see me and took 6 pieces back to their gallery. I had a Solo show with them 6 months later that following spring and I have been showing with them now for just over 16 years.

At this point I wanted to be able to drive to the galleries within a day or two so I looked at what are the markets by me with a really good presence. Then I check them out online to see who is showing.  I also inspect their web site; is it current, is it updated, what are the shows they have had and going to have, are they anywhere else, Facebook, Twitter etc.   I look up their artists and check what they’re showing and where else they’re showing.  If I happen to know any of the artists I call and ask what they do and don’t like about the gallery.  If I plan to submit I also ask if they would be comfortable writing a reference for me. Before I send anything I check the web site for guidelines on submitting. When visiting I make sure I have an updated book and about 6 examples in the car.
I am a big fan of taking that big breath and jumping!  I have my doubts, I do go round and round thinking  “Will they like me? Am I good enough?”  but in the end the worst they really can do it say no, and they just might say yes.

Q:  What advice would you give to artists about committing to a gallery or gallery show?

Wilson: Make sure you understand what the gallery is offering you for their split. Are they just a place to hang or are they working for you by calling collectors, corporate clients, museums, and doing PR in print and social media such as Facebook, twitter, and blogs?  Are there openings, closings, gallery talks, video promotions, etc?  These make a big difference in the outcome of your work being seen by people and, hopefully, people purchasing it. The goal is to have a gallery represent you and work for you and your art. When this happens it is worth the gallery’s cut and the exclusivity contracts.

Do not over commit. It’s better to show up with more than you promised than to come up short (Alyson Stanfield). I say this but it’s been hard for me to keep it as I have these grand ideas and then life kicks in with the job or the kids and I encounter delays or equipment failures and then I think I can still do it if I just don’t eat or sleep for the next 72 hours.

Read a profile of Holly Wilson in this recent issue of Art Focus Oklahoma magazine. 
The Artist Survival Kit workshop, “Expanding your Horizons: Finding New Markets for your Art,” is Saturday, October 23, 2010; 1-4 pm at Mainsite Contemporary Art Gallery, 122 E Main St in Norman (map).  This panel discussion will cover the basics of how a professional gallery relationship works, as well as tips for approaching galleries and exhibiting your artwork out-of-state. Panelists include artists Jonathan Hils and Kate Rivers, as well as gallery owner Joy Reed Belt. See the Artist Survival Kit page to register. 

Gallery Relationships: Liz Rodda

In preparation for our Artist Survival Kit workshop, “Expanding your Horizons: Finding New Markets for your Art ,” on Saturday, October 23, 2010, several artists who show regularly in venues outside Oklahoma will discuss their galleries, how they built the relationships and tips for other artists. 
Liz Rodda

Q: Where are a few of your favorite galleries/museums/festivals where you have shown outside Oklahoma?
Liz Rodda, Triple Possibility (model for exhibition),
three-channel video, dimensions variable 
Rodda: Most recently, I’ve shown work at Dumbo Arts Center, Brooklyn, the Independents Liverpool Biennale, UK, and NY Studio Gallery, NYC. Sometimes I show work that’s exhibited as a part of a video screening and other times I install work in a gallery context. I’m also interested in showing work at sites outside of an art context altogether.
Q: Tell us about your most positive gallery relationships or exhibition experiences, what made them good?
Rodda: I think clear communication and advance notice on details is about as good as it gets. An honest gallerist who is willing to talk straight is always refreshing. 
Q: How did you initially seek galleries or venues outside of your community?
Rodda: Some of my friends would jury shows and ask me to be a part of them and vice versa. I also applied, and continue to apply, to a lot of national and international juried exhibitions. Sites like nyfa.org and rhizome.org have a lot of exhibition and residency opportunities listed weekly. Often times getting into shows can lead to other exhibition opportunities.
Liz Rodda, You Don’t Love Me Yet, participant instructions, 8.5×11, 2008
Q: What advice would you give to artists about committing to a gallery or show?
Rodda: Spend time looking into gallery spaces and venues before you submit work. It’s important to know what’s been shown there before so you know whether or not it’s a good fit. Also, send out a lot of applications. One of my grad school instructors told us to send out an application every time we received a rejection or acceptance letter- that way work is always going out. Even if you don’t get work into a show, it’s been seen by a new panel and can lead to unexpected opportunities. Also, remember that making work is the most important thing- you can easily spend all of your time applying to shows, but you’re an artist first and foremost. 
The Artist Survival Kit workshop, “Expanding your Horizons: Finding New Markets for your Art ,” is Saturday, October 23, 2010; 1-4 pm at Mainsite Contemporary Art Gallery, 122 E Main St in Norman (map).  This panel discussion will cover the basics of how a professional gallery relationship works, as well as tips for approaching galleries and exhibiting your artwork out-of-state. Panelists include artists Jonathan Hils and Kate Rivers, as well as gallery owner Joy Reed Belt. See the Artist Survival Kit page to register. 

Plot points from @OVAC Twitter Feed:

Behind the Art Scenes:                       
Wow. This will revolutionize selling art (& everything else), allows credit card processing via mobile phone! https://squareup.com/

learn about how a big, competitive arts festival selects artists, @artscouncilOKC received 624 apps this year http://ow.ly/2OVmR

article about art advisors (and difference from other roles helping artists) http://ow.ly/2LNzf

Arts & healthcare! Vote for Tulsa Arts & Humanities Council to receive @LIVESTRONG community impact funding:http://vote.livestrong.org/111

destroyed artwork, stolen rights? Exploring Visual Artists Rights Acthttp://on.wsj.com/aOPF2Y

Huge issue for creatives. RT @TechInTheArts: Net Neutrality Supports Independent Art – http://bit.ly/cqJfgF #netneutrality@FreePress

Did you read article arguing against artist statements? Curious your thoughts as artist, gallerist, or audience member.http://ow.ly/2zg7U

Opportunities for artists & volunteers:
Unusual art commission opportunity from OKC’s Brownfields projecthttp://ow.ly/2Of9B Up to $10k to create “frames”

Right on advice for emerging artists RT @abstanfield: Not yet ready to promote your art? Starter moves on Art Biz Bloghttp://bit.ly/9inlas

Visual Resources Librarian job still available at OSU art dept. Combo of tech & image ability needed http://ow.ly/2Txo3

SNU arts festival deadline extended http://twitdoc.com/c/merwkn(@mediumokc said @bigtrucktacos and @elementalcoffee will be there)

nominate an Okie artist, arts volunteer or artist mentor for award from Paseo Artist Assoc http://ow.ly/2Jv0m OCT 15 DEADLINE

fascinating job at City Arts Center listed http://www.okmuseums.org/job-announcements/m.blog/91/view/301

new studio spaces available in cool OKC building with shared gallery http://ow.ly/2ENIR

RT @OKArtsCouncil: High School artists (Jrs/Snrs) should submit work for USAO’s H.S. Art Competition. http://bit.ly/apTDEu@usaodrovers

OVAC News:
Great crowd at Momentum Tulsa’s opening! Exhibit up until Oct 23 hours: Tues-Sun 1-5 pm plus late until 9 pm on Thurs & Fri. Come see.

New series of 1-of-a-kind artist-designed t-shirts which debuted at 12×12. Come early for first dibs! http://yfrog.com/6tliwj

Confronting AIDS in Swaziland, artist Sunni Mercer received OVAC grant for sculpture project opening Saturday @IAOgallery http://ow.ly/2TvH7

Gallery Relationships: Diane Salamon

In preparation for our Artist Survival Kit workshop, “Expanding your Horizons: Finding New Markets for your Art ,” on Saturday, October 23, 2010, several artists who show regularly in venues outside Oklahoma will discuss their galleries, how they built the relationships and tips for other artists. 

Diane Salamon

Diane Salamon, Trio, Acrylic, 12″x12″
Q: Where are a few of your favorite galleries you have shown, especially outside Oklahoma?

Salamon: The favorite place I have shown outside of Oklahoma is Eva Reynolds Fine Art in Kansas City.   Within Oklahoma I enjoyed my time in Color Connection Gallery, but have preferred showing at Pickard Art Gallery in Oklahoma City.   As far as museum shows, Springfield Art Museum in Springfield, MO, Gilcrease Museum and Philbrook Museum have all been good experiences.   Leslie Powell in Lawton is another venue that was a positive experience for me.   

Q: Tell us about your most positive gallery relationships, what made them good? 

Salamon: I have a very positive relationship with both the galleries that represent me at the moment.    I think both dealers understand and respect my work.   We are honest with each other and support each other.   The artist/dealer relationship needs to be one where both sides understand and work together.  Operating a gallery is not easy or inexpensive (especially in this economy), and artists need to keep this in mind.  There also needs to be patience on the part of the artist and owner.   It takes time to develop a clientele.    Both reps have been very helpful in letting me know their clients’ response to my work and both have encouraged me to expect a bright future.  

Q: How did you initially find gallery representation and/or seek galleries outside of your community?

Salamon: I tried several methods.   What did not work was sending out portfolios without visiting the gallery.   What did work was putting together a portfolio and presenting them in person to the gallery.    I visited the galleries first, made notes and then called for an appointment to bring in my portfolio.   I have also walked in with portfolios and presented them without making an appointment.   This method is not as effective.   I think the gallery wants to know they have been selected for a reason and that you are not just walking in willing to show anywhere. 

Diane Salamon, Art Thought 10, Acrylic, 20″x16″
Q: What advice would you give to artists about committing to a gallery or gallery show?



Salamon: Don’t be afraid to stretch your abilities.    I have found I can do more than I think I can.   That being said, make certain you follow through with what you promise.   Don’t approach someone for a show until you have at least 10 works ready.   If you are approaching a gallery for representation, you need at least 20 works.   One mistake I made was showing works to galleries that were from different series.    It made me look inconsistent, when in fact each of my series are very consistent.    The gallery doesn’t want to guess what you might exhibit.   I have found that later the dealer wants to see what else you have done, but the initial presentation needs to be very consistent.   Once you have committed to the gallery make it clear to your clients that the gallery owner is your representative.   And, don’t sell your work at a discount from your studio–the pricing needs to be consistent.   Also, don’t price your work too low or too high.   Figure out a method to price your work that makes sense.    I see artists charging different amounts for the same size painting.   This is confusing to the buyer and makes the artist look uncertain about the value of their work.   As you start selling, the pricing becomes easier.   Also, clients expect to see your work gradually get more expensive, so raising your prices every year or so is wise.  Don’t be upset if the gallery doesn’t want to show every new painting you bring in.   The gallery has space limitations, and their wall space costs them money.    I take several new paintings at a time and let the dealer pick what they want to place in their inventory. 



The Artist Survival Kit workshop, “Expanding your Horizons: Finding New Markets for your Art ,” is Saturday, October 23, 2010

; 1-4 pm at Mainsite Contemporary Art Gallery, 122 E Main St in Norman (map).  This panel discussion will cover the basics of how a professional gallery relationship works, as well as tips for approaching galleries and exhibiting your artwork out-of-state. Panelists include artists Jonathan Hils and Kate Rivers, as well as gallery owner Joy Reed Belt. See the Artist Survival Kit page to register. 

Creative for life: Rusty Johnson

Rusty Johnson, The Cyclops, Basswood, 2″x2″x2″

Guest Author: Shelby Woods

Creative people who are not full-time artists frequently need some way to satisfy their instinct to create and build something with their hands, according to Rusty Johnson.  For Johnson, carving figures, small caricatures, and animals out of wood has been his creative outlet for the last 12 years. He has been retired for one year and his enthusiasm for his craft has only grown with his increased spare time.
Originally from Winfield, Louisiana, Johnson is now an avid woodcarver, member of the Oklahoma Visual Arts Coalition, and a long-time Tulsan. He graduated from the University of Tulsa in 1965 with a degree in what was then called “commercial art.” He then volunteered for the navy and served there for three years. He has worked as a commercial artist in the Public Relations department for the University of Tulsa, the Continental Heritage press and finally the American association of Petroleum Geologists.
Rusty Johnson, Mark Twain Hommage, Basswood, 6″ tall
His early woodcarving projects were inspired by the work of Oklahoma Cherokee artist Willard Stone. Johnson also expressed his profound interest in birds by doing one realistic carving of a black-capped chickadee and some anthropomorphic cartoon birds. Johnson added humorous cartoons and caricatures to his repertoire. As he put it, being the only creative type working around so many scientists, he developed a sense of humor that shows in his woodcarvings still. Many of his pieces are silly, playful, or exaggerated.
Despite the humor in his work, Johnson is quite serious about developing his woodcarving technique. He recently took a trip to Austria and spent two weeks at the very traditional Geisler-Moroder School of woodcarving. The school is known for medieval and baroque woodworking techniques and subjects. There he sharpened his woodcarving skills and succeeded in completing work worthy of master wood carvers, including a baroque-style depiction of the Madonna.

Rusty Johnson, Black-Capped Chickadee, Tupelo, 12″ tall
Johnson is also competes in regional, national, and international woodcarving competitions and is part of the Eastern Oklahoma Woodcarvers Association, the National Wood Carvers Association and the Affiliated Woodcarvers, Ltd. He says that Tulsa is a good place for woodcarving because of the wealth of woodcarving resources in the area and his ability to enter competitions from anywhere. Mr. Johnson won first prize at the Caricature Carvers of America annual competition with his caricature of Abraham Lincoln. Most recently, Johnson has had one of his carvings accepted into the Brady Craft Alliance’s VisionMakers 2010 show, which just closed at Living Arts of Tulsa.