In 2021, a member said to me, “why don’t you submit your work to Small Works?”
I had never submitted to a gallery before and had just started painting watercolors again a few months prior.
I was really happy to be able to have finally something positive to invite people to who had seen me at my worst. We went out to dinner afterwards and it felt good. I had something I could tell some of my other friends about that was positive; since there was so much shame and embarrassment about having been lonely and depressed.
The show is is a communal effort that breaks isolation. Members participate in the show at every level-making work, submitting work, hanging, cleaning the gallery, advertising, serving food etc… It is a change to try something, one never may have thought possible.
The Gallery is one way in which we present to the public are showing some of what we do at Fountain House.
This show especially builds community and is something positive.
Members in the studio worked along side each other at the same time, especially during the pandemic. This show is not a competition, but an opportunity to share ones work and possibly make money. The risks are low, and you know that your work will not be “rejected” by a curator. Then other things become relevant - what to make, what to sell, and how to get it done. There are many obstacles to showing ones art and getting them submitted. There is the fear that people will judge and not like it. Using the computer, to submit ones can be daunting. Consequently, I go to the Gallery to enter the work. I am surrounded by people who can help me-which is often. Some members go to help other members in their home, to complete the computer submission. It is an opportunity to help each other-to respond, "let’s do it together.”
Zeus Hope said that the “Positive Visibility” to have someone who does not know you, and who you do not know purchase your work is powerful. She related how it felt, to have someone at the Outsider Art Fair come up to her and want to meet her. They had bought some of her work and had it on their phone.
For me, it felt good to have people I knew, and people I did not know buy some pieces. Part of it was because they knew me, and wanted to support my efforts. I just felt they were biased. Some of the pieces I sold, I had struggled over for days. One woman came up to me at the Fountain House Gala and said “I got your peach”; she knew who I was from my artwork.
The feeling when you sell your first piece of art, is not to be underestimated. It is sort of a bit of surprise, and possibility. That someone would want something you made. That something you made was worth something to someone. “I have clientele”. It changes how you define yourself.
It opens up the possibility that maybe I do belong in a gallery. Maybe...
Art can be very personal, and it is difficult at times to feel that if a piece does not speak to someone, it does not mean that they are judging YOU as a human being.
It is also a safe way to express oneself, and possibly make some money. You have nothing to lose…by participating in the show in some way. The price of $100 or less (members and workers get a discount $60) makes it less intimidating to look; unlike other New York Galleries where “If you have to ask, you can’t afford it”. There is a feeling of empowerment walking into a space in which you can buy something. It makes you feel like you belong.
Fountain House Gallery is not a unit, but it is a place where you can contribute your time, energy, and artistic talents, and be received.
The Opening Reception is a lively event with a frenzy of activity. It is a cheerful time in which artists can sell their work that is priced $100 or less. The criteria for submission is that the piece be smaller than 6” x 6” or 5” x 7” and that the pieces be “ready to hang”. There are some other small items for sale, such as sculpture and jewelry. Members have to be active in the Gallery community to be permitted to submit work and to meet volunteer requirements.
Fountain House Gallery gives out 2 wooden block per member who wishes to participate. 15 pieces of art may be submitted, and when the pieces sell, they can be replaced.
Members and workers often relax enjoy a drink at the bar across the way at 5 pm then walk over for the event at 6 pm. There are usually some snacks and non-alcoholic drinks at the Gallery. You do not have to buy anything to enjoy.
Come to the Small Works Show Opening on November 9th from 6pm-8pm if you can- support your friends, celebrate the holidays, and enjoy yourself. If you miss it, you can still enjoy the show.
Small Works: $100 & Under runs from November 10 through December 23, 2023.