When the Gibbes Museum opened in 1905, the nation celebrated what Charleston has always understood: the power of art – to inspire our imagination, heal our hurt, and nourish our souls.

Many Moving Parts – A Gallerist’s Perspective

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[While the Gibbes Museum is closed, we find ourselves aching to interact with real-live art. The pictures online are nice to glance at, but it can’t replace the experience of standing in front of an original work of art and seeing all the nuances of an artist’s hand. On Thursday night, Society 1858 members had the opportunity to visit the studio of artist Tim Hussey as he prepares for a solo exhibition at The George Gallery. Gallery owner Anne Siegfried shares with us what it takes to pull off a successful show.]

Most people would agree that art openings are fun to attend. You can meet with friends, have a glass of wine, and discuss what you like or not like about the art on the walls. If you connect with the art on exhibit you might also have the opportunity to meet the artist. If you are really into the art, you can buy a piece to hang in your home and enjoy forever. But how does the art opening actually happen?

Society 1858 members enjoy a behind-the-scenes peek at Tim Hussey's studio.
Society 1858 members enjoy a behind-the-scenes peek at Tim Hussey’s studio.

It takes a lot of moving parts coming together.

As a gallery owner I consider many things when planning an exhibit, the most important of these things are my clients, show logistics, promotion, and the quality of the art. I need to be confident that my clients will respond to the artist’s work. Does it match what they are looking for? Is the art work unique? Is the price point reasonable? If I can think of a dozen people off the top of my head that I believe will really appreciate the show then I move on to the next step.

The logistics are the boring part. When does the show best fit into the gallery’s calendar? What else is going on in Charleston when I want to have this show, I want to be sure there are not any obvious conflicts. Is there enough time for the artist to complete a full body of work?

The next consideration is promotion. Do I have an appropriate amount of time to get writers interested in the body of work? I’m hosting the event because I feel passionate that the artist has a story to tell. My job is getting that message out there, sometimes even before one painting has been completed. But through communicating with my artists and visiting their studios I get to understand what is motivating them, why this collection of work is important, and what the message will be once it’s hung on the walls.

The most exciting part of the exhibit for me is when I see the work in person for the first time, which is when the wheels in my head really start turning. I trust in myself and my artist that the quality of the work is up to or exceeds our standards. So far, my artists have never let me down.

When it’s time to hang the show, I finally get to be creative. I have to take into consideration where the best lighting is, which piece need to stand alone, or which is the most subtle and needs extra attention.

An opening reception at The George Gallery.
An opening reception at The George Gallery.

All of this planning, creating, promoting, etc., gets us to the wine drinking and chatting with friends. The process takes about 6-18 months on average. But it’s so worth it! I get to share the art that I love the most. The artist gets to show off his/her hard work, and hopefully you have also fallen in love, taken a piece home and will enjoy that work for many years to come.

—Anne Siegfried
guest blogger, Society 1858 Board Member and owner of The George Gallery

Published October 30, 2015

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