Sunday, March 28, 2010

Approaching Museums and Galleries: Artist-Run Galleries

Continued from Approaching Museums and Galleries: Introduction,
Approaching Museums and Galleries: Commercial Galleries Part 1, and
Approaching Museums and Galleries Part 2

Joining the Group

If you want to retain a high degree of control over your exhibitions, and you enjoy working with a community of artists, an artist-run cooperative art gallery may be something you might consider. There are many different variations in artist-run galleries, so you want to visit several to decide if they are a good fit.

Most artist-run galleries cover their expenses with monthly dues, and rely less on sales for getting through slow periods in the economy. Some group galleries have a limit on membership size, others do not. Some artist-run galleries are very selective about offering membership to applicants, others flexible. Accordingly, a gallery with an unlimited membership might not offer anything but group shows. Others provide a solo exhibition on a regular scheduled basis.

I am the most familiar with the artist-run gallery Bromfield Gallery (founded in 1975) in Boston - because I am a member. Members have a solo exhibition approximately one every other year. They can hang a work in the Members Gallery area for 9 months of the year, and participate in two larger group exhibitions twice a year. There are print files for addition work on paper to be shown at the gallery. Members meet once a month to conduct gallery business, including reviewing the work of artists applying for membership or visiting artist exhibitions. Members also participate in staffing the gallery approximately once a month, helping out at opening receptions, and other business details. Members pay monthly dues. Members are generally located within a reasonable driving distance, but long distance members have options also.

Other cooperatives in SOWA Boston include Kingston Gallery and Galatea Gallery. Kingston Gallery opened in 1982, and is structured similarly to the Bromfield Gallery. Galatea Gallery opened recently, and has a multi-tiered membership structure. In Rhode Island, you can find Hera Gallery, active for 34 years.

If you are interested in long distance membership, several options exist - a little diligent hunting with a web search engine will uncover them. These are a few that have supported artists that I know personally. One well structured gallery, Lana Santorelli Gallery in Chelsea NYC, is not a true membership gallery, but is artist-run and curates shows from open submissions. A.I.R. Gallery in NYC is a gallery supporting women artists with a wide range of membership options, as is Woman Made Gallery in Chicago.

These options are all different from traditional commercial galleries. You can best judge which might be the best fit by visiting as many of both types as possible, asking plenty of questions, and then deciding which style suits your schedule and personality. And if neither option appeals to you, you can consider other alternatives to galleries - curating, grants and other thinking-outside-the-box options. More on that in another post.

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