Sunday, June 12, 2011

Friendliness Goes a Long Way

Susie Eley from Susan Eley Fine Art in New York.
It's my last night in New York after spending a week and a half full of eating great food, looking at wonderful art, visiting new places, and eating even more food. At this point, my pants no longer button, I am inspired beyond belief, and I am eager to get back home to start painting again. Did I have a great time? Yes, definitely. But no matter how great of a time I have, or how wonderful the place I visited, I have to say that I am always happy to come home and sleep in my own bed, surrounded by my own things. I guess I really like San Francisco and am happy to call it home.

While in the East Coast, I did have some interesting experiences. One of which was visiting galleries in both Provincetown, MA and in New York City. The Provincetown galleries were a lot smaller (some of them super tiny) than I thought they would be and there was a high concentration of them on one street. I have seen some small spaces in San Francisco, but some of these galleries were even smaller than the smallest. I also wasn't used to the way the work was hung. Most of the work was shown salon style, with MANY paintings on a wall, hung above, below, and next to each other, in order to maximize space. There was also a good amount of work in some galleries that were in what I would describe as "file walls". These "files" were walls that had art on the front and back of each partition and you could flip through the walls as if they were pages in a book (think rugs hanging in a rug store and you'll get a better picture). I can't say that I am big fan of this way of displaying work, although it is pretty ingenious. Everything seemed so cramped and the work had no room to "breathe". When I look at art, I like to see some space between each piece so that I can contemplate what I am looking at without the next image interfering in my thoughts or line of view. I can understand the space issue may dictate the way art is hung, I am not faulting the galleries for that, I am just stating my preference.

David Kidd at Susan Eley Fine Art. I LOVE his work!
I went from Provincetown to New York and gallery hopping in Chelsea. There were SO many galleries to visit and yet I noticed one consistent thing. I don't think a single gallery person acknowledged me while I was there, even when I made a point to say hello. A few managed to raise their head when they heard me walk in, but not a single one said a word. Now, I am not expecting someone to treat me like royalty or to follow me around, but a simple "hello, let me know if you have any questions" would have been nice. I don't know if it was because my husband and I didn't look like art buyers to them, therefore a waste of their time, or if it was because they just couldn't be bothered. Either way, I thought it was rude and presumptuous and would never buy a painting at a place like this, no matter how much I liked the work.

Chase Langford at Susan Eley Fine Art.
Both were beautiful pieces and unfortunately for me, SOLD.
I did manage to visit one gallery that was not in Chelsea. It was, in fact, less than 5 blocks away from where we were staying in the Upper West Side. We stopped by Susan Eley Fine Art on West 90th Street since I knew that Amber George had curated a show there and I wanted to see it while it was still up. The gallery wasn't in a conventional space, in fact it was a converted apartment, but that wasn't all that made it a different experience than what I had in Chelsea. When we walked into the gallery, Susie Eley, the owner of the gallery, introduced herself and welcomed us into the space. She let us know that she was around if we had any questions and then left us to wander around the space, looking at art at our own pace. All of the artists in the space were wonderful. There were so many paintings that we liked. After Susie noticed that we were looking at a particular work for a bit, she came by and talked about the artist whose work we were looking at. She was very knowledgable and friendly, and because of this, in addition to the fact that we loved the painting we were looking at, we bought a piece!

Two paintings by Amber George. I really like that color green.
I don't understand why other gallerists can't be more like this (and this is not the first time I have ranted about this on my blog). I may not look like I have a million dollars to spend on art, but I do buy art, and have bought several pieces from galleries...all galleries that have had friendly, knowledgable people who didn't automatically decide I was a waste of their time. It doesn't take a rocket scientist to know that friendliness goes a long way. While we were in New Hampshire, my husband and I were very friendly with the woman checking us into our hotel room. We asked her about her day and had a nice conversation. It made all of us participating feel good. Because of this, at least I'd like to believe this is why, she upgraded our room to a suite for FREE. See, people like to be acknowledged and treated like they matter, it's not hard to understand why. I'd like to think a lot more galleries would sell more work to the average person if they would just learn to be a little bit friendlier and act like we weren't wasting their time. They would sell a lot more art to me at least.

Graphite and encaustic pieces by Maria O'Malley.
We bought the bottom painting.

Four paintings by Audrey Phillips at Susan Eley Fine Art.

BTW, if you are in New York, stop by Susan Eley Fine Art to see this show. It is up until the end of June and is a definite worth see. Check out the website for more details.


  1. I couldn't agree with you more. I belong to a co-op gallery in Alexandria, Virginia, and I'm shocked by the rude behavior of some of my colleagues. I've had visitors tell me that the sitter actually turned away from them when they walked into the gallery -- and continued a cell-phone conversation! When I went in the first time, the man sitting that day didn't look up from his book.

    You're absolutely right. A little kindness goes a long, long way.