Sandy Wagner. Respect due artist

The subject has been passed around in the past but is still a big issue.

Recently I approached the owner of an upscale gallery and shop in my area regarding a Fiber Art show and was told that fabric is not art and never sells she then dismissed me by turning her back on me and walking away.

I know that I refer to myself as a “Fiber Artist” as do many others – I resent being called a person with a hobby or she does crafts. Jane made reference to “quilts” art etc as being perceived as just a bed quilt and being dismissed. The time and energy that we as artist put into our work deserves more then rebuffing.

Do we see ourselves getting out of this hole: If so how: How do you as a single artist or group of artists see yourself gaining the respect that other mediums get?

Sandy Wagner

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6 Responses to “Sandy Wagner. Respect due artist”


  1. 1 thelmasmith February 26, 2007 at 8:58 am

    There is more than one gallery that specializes in fine contemporary craft. Galleries that use that nomenclature have been quietly and consistently selling textile art for at least the last twenty years. I suggest you begin to study periodicals such as Ornament, American Craft, Art and Antiques, American Style, Surface Design Association, and FiberArts Magazine.

    Art Calendar will give you calls to artists. You need to broaden your horizons and also think carefully about your semantics.

    It also helps to identify a logical target and visit that gallery for every opening for at least one year. Then make a second visit every month in the slow times. Familiarity helps the gallery owner identify and interact with you in a professional way. thelmasmith

  2. 2 sandyw February 19, 2007 at 6:09 pm

    To June my thoughts exactly – up yours plus others.

    She was presented with a professional portfolio and I do think that it is her lose. It was such a surprise to just be dismissed by her. It didn’t slow me down just bugged me.

    I have been involved in several shows that have brought positive comments – these also have been in larger areas then in the area that I live.

    Sandy

  3. 3 Susan Leslie Lumsden February 19, 2007 at 4:55 pm

    I agree with Eileen. Knowing how to correctly approach a gallery is a major lesson–sometimes hard learned. I think that as time goes by more and more galleries will see that they are losing opportunities to make some real money if they turn their noses up. However- you must also respect the fact that gallery owners are doing what they do largely because they have a high regard for their own tastes. Also- they must narrow their focus just as we artists can’t be everything for everybody. We can promote ourselves best when we are able to focus our marketing on our own identified niche. I have zero interest in trying to convince someone my medium has credibility. If the work resonates with the viewer- then we can talk. If not–move on to someone who has the desired reaction. If the resonance is there I am willing to jump through all sorts of hoops to assure them their choice is a sound one.

  4. 4 eileen doughty February 19, 2007 at 10:35 am

    Getting that particular gallery owner to ‘see the light’ may not be the best use of your time and energy. Move on to the next one on your list. Wouldn’t it be fun to get another gallery in the same area to put on a fiber art show to prove her wrong?

    When you approach a gallery, make sure you have all your ducks in a row. Visit the gallery in person to make sure they include ‘your’ kind of art. Don’t bother approaching a gallery that shows realistic landscapes if you make abstracts, regardless of the media. If the gallery only shows oil paintings, then they aren’t going to show textiles or watercolors, pastels, photography, 3D….

    Call for an appointment, don’t just walk in. If you think they will balk about textile/art quilts in general, have some facts to back up your proposal – visitors and sales at other successful venues. Bring printed catalogs to show the breadth and quality of the genre.

  5. 5 Michelle V February 19, 2007 at 6:04 am

    I think the journey of the Art Quilt as an accepted art form that grabs its fair share of the dollars spent on art, still has a way to go. Just like many other art forms in the past struggled to find their place, so will we.

    I find that in some places people are amazed by fiber as art, at a recent show I was in, on opening day, I found lots of comments from viewers who were enjoying the medium and curious about it. I have had that positive experience more than the dismissal attitude. So I would just chalk that experience up like June said, pity the person who cant see whats right in front of them.

    At the last show opening, one lady was over heard in saying “I came here to see quilts, these arent quilts this is art.” What a great comment.

    Love the new blog format and enjoying the conversations….

    Michelle

  6. 6 June February 18, 2007 at 6:23 pm

    Sandy,

    I suppose the answer lies in yourself — are you making art? Is your art such that it could be exhibited beside anything you are looking at? And if so, then pity the poor proprietor who fails to see what’s in front of her face.

    I think a bit of ruthless self-confidence (as well as avoidance of the Q word) would do us all a world of good. Up yours, I say to the snobs (after they’ve left the premises, of course) — or where _have_ you been for the last 50 years?


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