Wednesday, December 26, 2018

Pop-Up Gallery Revelations

If "pop-up" galleries and shops were a thing during the early 1970s, I was too busy mangling mechanicals with Letraset transfer lettering to know about them. And after being laid off (aka, fired) from that job, I took a 40+ year break from artwork to explore the Life of the Mind.*

As it turns out, pop-up or flash retailing first arrived on the scene in 1997 when Patrick Corrielche created The Ritual Expo in Los Angeles. I didn't know any of this before artist Amy Baca Lopez invited me to join a lunch-time pop-up during November and December.

Among its many enchantments, Albuquerque has a mayor, Tim Keller, who understands how the arts can play a vital role in urban redevelopment. Amy and designer Danny Hart were organizing The Goods at a prime downtown location donated by the city. How cool was that? Very.

Had it been since 1970 or 1971 that I'd hung artwork publically? Weep-worthy to contemplate in either case, which is exactly what I did when they said, "Sure, hang your stuff."

Good thing I consider myself a lifelong learner. I had a lot to learn and learned a lot. We closed down The Goods on Sunday, December 23 so I'm still processing the experience. More will be revealed but here's what I've discovered thus far: Pop-ups require loads of energy on all levels—body, mind, and spirit.
  • Hauling, setting up, and dismantling displays are super-physical. My mosaics are small and light enough to haul in smallish boxes (H/T!). Revelation: Think carefully about the practical consequences of working larger and heavier. Also, tools, tags, tape, and packing materials are essential. Fortuitously, I prefer working small and already own tools.
  • Figuring out where and how to arrange artwork involves strategic as well as tactical thinking. Revelation: The visibility of (some) wall art could be enhanced by being displayed on a table. Also, consider traffic patterns and who else is showing what-all before choosing display space. I probably should've brought in a table and avoided hanging anything near the side door.
  • Predicting who will like and buy anything is almost unpredictable. Revelation: Be grateful for the thick skin developed as a working writer and published author. Also, be grateful that pop-ups provide an opportunity for market intel. Turns out I'm more grateful than I give myself credit for being. I loved noticing who walked right by my work (N=too many to count) and who made a beeline for it (N=5). I've used these data to figure out my probable niche. 
Will I participate in another pop-up any time soon? Time will tell. For now, I'm feeling called to refocus on what I'm creating. I do know that I'm looking forward to wandering through future pop-ups to meet other artists, chat with people I would not otherwise meet, and to fall even more in love with my new home.

Me & Amy Baca Lopez

Learn more about:
Patrick Corrielche
Pop-up Retail
Amy Baca Lopez
Danny Hart Design
> Albuquerque Mayor Tim Keller
> The distinction between writing and authorship.
*Not to be confused with "Mindful Living."