Recently, I visited a friend who was in town, staying at a local hotel.
I was pleasantly surprised when I saw original artwork on the walls of the hotel room. No mass-produced artwork that is seemingly the preference of most chain hotels.
These colorful abstracts captivated me, but as I studied them more closely, I couldn’t help but notice that none of them were locally created. Why go to the trouble of hanging original artwork but not buy it locally? What better way to market Joplin’s reputation as an art community?
Luckily, there are locally owned business that recognize the importance of this. The majority may not buy local artwork, but they provide artists with space for exhibiting their work. It’s a way for the businesses to decorate their spaces, while also promoting local art.
These are great opportunities for artists, whether experienced in solo exhibiting or new to it. While sales may be minimal in a business venue compared with galleries, they’re worth the exposure they can offer.
For those who have never had a solo exhibit, these are good opportunities for getting some experience. They allow more casual, less critical viewing than in galleries, which can be relieving for newly exhibiting artists, and they provide experience in marketing and hanging art, duties left entirely to the artists. Because the art is only part of the business space and not the purpose for the business, it drives the artist to create an exhibit that can grab the attention of customers. It forces attentiveness to selection of the exhibit pieces to ensure a cohesive display, while also promoting personal art style.
It also forces artists to consider the aspects of framing that go beyond simply complimenting the artwork. The interiors of these businesses aren’t specifically designed for hanging exhibits, like galleries are. They may have brick, wood or plaster walls that need to be considered when deciding the best way to hang pieces.
I’ve noticed in some exhibits in these venues the artist has failed to place informational labels or tags alongside the artwork. These are of utmost importance because they tell the medium and sale prices, letting viewers know that the artwork is more than display pieces.
Generally, these places rotate the exhibits monthly, and there are no exhibiting costs, but there might be a commission charged on sales. The venues don’t process any sales, preferring instead to connect interested buyers with the artist to handle that.
Artists can’t expect to have their work exhibited immediately. There are waiting lists at nearly all of them. But that allows for thoughtful prep time.
When approaching these businesses about exhibiting, it’s best to take in a few samples of work or offer an online portfolio for review by the proprietor. These folks want to know that the subject matter of the work will be appropriate for their business and they want to ensure that there is adequate space for the exhibit pieces.
The types of places that are creating these art spaces are so varied that an artist can pick a setting that fits personal preferences, whether casual or formal, and draws customers who will be attracted to their particular styles of the artwork.
Here are a few of the locally owned businesses that are available to local artists wishing to try this type of exhibiting:
• Bookhouse Cinema, 715 E. Langston Hughes-Broadway.
• Club 609, 609 S. Main St.
• Crabby’s Seafood Bar and Grill, 815 W. Seventh St.
• Infuxn Kitchen & Cocktails, 530 S. Main St.
• Instant Karma Gourmet Hot Dogs, 527 S. Main St.
• Joplin Avenue Coffee Co., 506 S. Joplin Ave.
• RSVPaint, 223 W. Third St.
• Joplin Public Library and Post Art Library, 1901 E. 20th St. It has a featured gallery for exhibits, plus display areas that are integrated into the overall space. There are also shelves and glass cases for displaying 3-D work.
In addition to these businesses, there are a couple of galleries that welcome exhibits of artists who approach them, rather than only curating exhibits themselves. These include Urban Art Gallery at 511 S. Main St., and the Neosho Arts Council Gallery at the Neosho Area Chamber of Commerce, 216 W. Spring St. All commissions on sales from the latter go to the nonprofit arts council. If interested in showing in this gallery, contact the arts council, rather than the chamber, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Apart from that gallery and Joplin Avenue Coffee Co., these business venues can be approached directly. Joplin Avenue Coffee Co. arranges it exhibits through Linda Teeter, owner of Urban Art Gallery, who can be contacted at email@example.com.
Hats off to these businesses for supporting local art and promoting our reputation as an art community. It’s time for our hotels to join this effort.
Contact Marta Churchwell with column ideas and comments at firstname.lastname@example.org.