My Pop-up Art Show

February was a month of amazing opportunities and discoveries — especially with regard to my art career. I had a solo art show in Bear River.  The collection of recent works looked strong and I heard some moving, positive feedback about it from visitors.   I’m a shy person when it comes to talking about my artwork so it was great practice to talk to people about it and to hear their thoughts. In some cases the paintings evoked strong, emotional stories for individual viewers. I felt so honoured to hear their personal memories and it reaffirmed in me the universality of all of our human experiences. We are all connected.

The Happy Flowers by Flora Doehler. (sold)
The Happy Flowers by Flora Doehler. (sold)

Pop-Up Painting Show – DIY

My show was a “pop-up art show”. That’s when the artist rents a venue such as an empty storefront, and organizes the entire show herself. This includes creating labels for the paintings, writing and printing publicity materials, handling the invitations, marketing, hanging the work, planning an opening event, handling sales, delivering paintings, and staffing the show.

It sounds like a lot and it is. In lots of ways creating the work is easier– at least it feels more natural to me. What really helped me to pull this off was:

  • allowing a good chunk of time to get everything done
  • online research about tips for self-hosting a show
  • writing up a list of tasks and organizing it
  • working through a methodical to-do list
  • having the support and help of a few good people
  • making the final decisions myself

My main support, as always, was Larry. He wired up all my canvasses, delivered the work to the gallery, and served people during the opening. He put the show up, took it down, and offered lots of moral support and positive feedback. He did way more than his share of the domestic chores so that I could stay focused on my tasks.

Fortune shone down on me when Rob Buckland-Nicks, owner of the Flight of Fancy Gallery and store in Bear River offered to hang the show with Larry. Because of this the display was professional. The owners of the gallery space at the Rebekah Hall, Jonathan Welch and Erin Schopfer, were very accommodating––In fact their repeated urgings that I hold a show were the push I needed.

My other “invisible” helper was someone whose blog I have read for a number of years. Alyson Stanfield is a guru in the world of art marketing and her book “I’d Rather be in the Studio” is a practical guide that shows ways to use social media for self-promotion.  Alyson is big on using the power of an e-newsletter to build excitement and momentum about an upcoming event. Using Mailchimp (free), I sent out several newsletters leading up to the show containing new paintings, instructional videos or other visuals about what people might see if they came. These newsletters served as value-added reminders. I highly recommend subscribing to her blog.

Waving Nicotiana by Flora Doehler. (sold)
Waving Nicotiana by Flora Doehler. (sold)

Measuring Success

When you come right down to it, the show forced me to get my act together. I finished paintings. I looked at my work with a critical eye. The show gave me goals and motivation. All of the many steps I had to take to get there reminded me that I haven’t lost my ability to organize even though I’ve been out of a formal workplace for over 5 years. I discovered how much I enjoyed having a solo show because it was relatively stress-free. I could make all the final decisions each step of the way and not have to negotiate or compromise. And the viewers weren’t the only ones who had never seen all my art presented together. I had never pulled those 30 canvases out and hung them neatly on the wall lined up with each other either. So the show gave me a good sense of where I have been going these past 5 years and how my work has developed. It was a gift to myself and to my creativity.

And just between you and me, I’m thinking about another pop-up art show–on my birthday.  I’m thinking of small pieces–mostly watercolors and mono prints. If you would like to hear more about it, please subscribe to my newsletter. The form is at the bottom of this website.

January Garden by Flora Doehler. (sold)
January Garden by Flora Doehler. (sold)

There have been spin offs too from having this show and I’ll get into that in the next post.