Monday, May 9, 2011

The show comes down

"The Potter and the Painter" at the StoveFactory Gallery closed Sunday afternoon at 4 and by the time the yoga students were drifting in for class around 6, all the pots and the shelves were off the walls and packed in the truck. Funny how an exhibition of pots can just disappear in what seems like no time.
I think Dara and I learned a lot in this two weekends of showing our work in the gallery. We had done a ton of publicity for the show, but in the end it was very sparsely attended. I wandered around from shelf to shelf, straightening pots, waaaayyy too much. Still, some people did come to the gallery, and I sold some pots. And Dara sold some paintings. Remarkably, for the relatively low attendance, we both (I think) more than made back our investments in the show, which were considerable. At least the bank account won't have taken a big hit.
My pots were priced higher for this show than they have been for craft fairs. Raising my prices is something people have been telling me to do for a couple of years now. Maybe they're right. The folks who bought some of my best work for $125 to $150 thought carefully about their purchases, but mostly about which pot they wanted. They seemed to have no problem with the price. Teabowls and small vases sold well for $50, slab plates for $75, small side-handle teapots for $125. Reasonable prices, I think, given the quality and the work that goes into them. And well below prices by much more established potters at nearby places like the Pucker and the Lacoste.
The building that houses the StoveFactory Gallery is a late 1800's brick factory building, like many in and around Boston or any similar city. Huge old timbers, industrial elevators and bathrooms, concrete floors, peeling paint. Painters, printmakers, papermakers, furniture craftspeople, design offices are in the building. The kind of people attracted to high ceilings, big windows and low rents. And it is some distance from the business district, hence unlikely to attract casual strollers. A gallery in town would get more drop-in trade. Those who come to the clean, well-lighted StoveFactory Gallery do so intentionally. And that probably explains the fact that with few visitors, we still sold relatively well.
My work has never been seen in a better venue. This is a gallery designed by artists to light the art in the best way possible. The layered Shinos and ash glazes on my pots want light. The buyer needs to be able to look at what's happening there between the carbon-trap Shino and the Bright Shino, to see the channels of the crackled and crawled Shino filled in by the celadon of the ash glaze. When the glazes are working right, there are landscapes created just under the surface that are simply not discernible in low light. What you see may not be to your taste, but with this kind of light you can definitely see it. And I think the same is true of the layered paints in Dara Pannebaker's work.
So I wish more people had seen the show, seen my pots in this lovely, formerly industrial space. But it's enough that we did the show and sold some work and made some connections.
Next time, maybe we'll figure out how to get more people to Charlestown.
The photos: Top, a round vase glazed in layered Shinos, soon headed to Sally Reavis in Seattle; side-handle teapots and landscapes; a wide view of the gallery.


cookingwithgas said...

much too soon to come down.
I wish I could have been there.

Tracey Broome said...

Too bad cidacas can't buy pots, I could send hundreds of them to you! I think lots of shows have been slow, I heard that a pottery show in Greensboro a few weeks ago only had 25 through the door on a Friday night. You never know, even if there was passer by traffic, they might not have been the ones buying. Sounds like the people that love your work found you. Now you are ready for a fall show!

ang said...

What an awesome place to have a show.. sounds like you've really thought out the whole pricing thing Hollis up where they should be and still affordable to us art lovers that dont have heaps of dosh :)) a show over to soon but great thoughts and work for your next show!!

Kings Creek Pottery said...

Your pieces are definitely worth those prices, Hollis...good for you to raise them.

If only we had others who would take care of the whole sales thing for us so we could just create!

I imagine finding the right niche in the gallery world is a similar process to the craft show world...hit/miss, try again! I guess in this economy being able to cover costs is a blessing. You never know how this gallery exposure can benefit you later.

It really looked lovely from the photos you shared.

janet said...

At your kiln openings I always need to walk outside to enjoy those landscapes under the surface - lighting is key - the photos of the gallery look brilliant.

Hollis Engley said...

Thanks, guys. It was worth doing, and I wish all of your had been able to come to the show. That might have doubled that day's attendance. Now, on to using whatever it is we learned. And making more pots.

mengley said...

Wish I could have seen it, Dad, it sounds like a great show.

Hollis Engley said...

Thanks, Marco.