…my friends and family were the only people with whom I shared my work.
Although I had been doing photography for over 30 years, prior to my first year in Art all Night I had never exhibited my photography in any venue. Perhaps the attitude some of the ‘fine arts’ students at my college had towards photography made a negative impression on me, but whatever the reason, my friends and family were the only people with whom I shared my work.
One of those friends urged me to participate in AAN, persuading me that the photos were good and that the process was easy and nonjudgemental. I purchased a frame and pre-cut mat, made an enlargement, which I had rarely done before that, and submitted a piece. I was pleased to find out that the print was not only well -received, but I sold it as well.
We had over 100 people at the opening, and by the time it closed I had sold 20 of the 80 prints from the exhibit.
With that encouragement, I had a book printed with 24 of my shots, and took them to a local library gallery with hopes of a shot or two being included in an upcoming show. Instead I was offered a 6 week solo show later that year! So I bought a mat cutter and more frames and created a 80 print show called “Compass Points- Views from the Road.” We had over 100 people at the opening, and by the time it closed I had sold 20 of the 80 prints from the exhibit.
From there I was accepting into a local gallery, and sold another 18 prints in the first 6 months on their walls, and am now in three galleries in Western New York.
So from my start in the Art all Night two years ago, my photography is still a hobby but now it is much more intensive labor of love, and is self-supporting. I’ve learned much more about mounting and sales and presentation, and obviously still have much more to learn. But none of this would not have happened without the push of my friends, and the beginner-friendly attitude of the Art all Night group.
Art isn’t always my thing.
Art isn’t always my thing. I’ve, of course, been to the US National Gallery and stood in awe of the Rembrandts, Rapheals, and Monets. I’ve visited the Van Gogh museum in Amsterdam, the National Gallery in London, and even the Louvre. Though the pieces are impressive (mostly because they are famous), mostly I just find that art museums make my feet ache and my head swim.
This weekend I went to art show. And it was–somehow–simultaneously not at all an art show and also the ultimate, most complete art show in the world. The event is called Art all Night and it happens once a year, for literally one whole night. There is no censorship, no fee, and no jury. Anyone can show and anyone can come. The pieces range from anything from paintings to etch-a-sketches; from sculptures made of clay to old telephones; from robots to plates.
My seven year old sister painted a flower and it was hung next to a huge abstract piece that looked like someone took pink paint and splattered it on a canvas. There are aspiring artists, wannabe artists, people who are just pissed off, and others who just have an idea and a way to say it. There are also real artists, but they are put in their place, right next to all the crap.
Over the course of this night, and the many other years I have attended Art all Night, I have come to an important realization. It is that the dynamics of this event are unique and revealing in ways that no painting could ever hope to match. This place shows art, and humans, for what they really are. This isn’t just because it’s a random explosion of artistic expression. It’s also being in a small room, standing next to a transvestite wearing pink heels and boa, an old married couple, and thirteen year old kid wearing a nose ring. And you’re all looking at the same painting of Colonel Sanders.
There probably isn’t a clearer definition of art other than “art is expression,” and that phrase is ambiguous at best. But if nothing else, this event was truly about expression. And that collection of all those hundreds of expressions (some good, some bad, some ugly) created an experience that really is the human condition.
And you won’t find that at the Louvre.