Friday, January 23, 2009

Behind the Scenes - Doing the Show Housework

Lynette and I are getting ready to install our show, Physical Geography, tomorrow. We each are bringing between 17 and 25 paintings. That's a lot of work and probably too much to hang, but we'll put things out and decide what to include and what not. We're trying for an airy look with plenty of space between paintings. The gallery walls have a total of 135 feet - big gallery.

We have both been killing ourselves to get the work made and then we had to do the finishing - scraping the edges of the panels, taking off tape, painting the edges or not, installing D-rings and wire and bumpers. (I have the worst, cheap foam bumpers in the world and peeling the paper off them is excruciatingly tedious. Why don't I get something better?) Then comes the packing, which I've been working on for two days.

Packing encaustic paintings takes more care than any other medium because the edges are so fragile that if you knock them into something, you could break off a chunk of wax. My paintings are even more complicated because of all the embedded materials; I have to protect the surface so that nothing gets jarred or bumped. In addition, you can't put bubblewrap directly on the wax (well, you can but it might stick) so you first have to wrap the paintings in glassine or heavy wax paper and then in bubblewrap. If the surface needs extra protection because of ultra high dimensional elements, I have to build boxes from foamcore or insulating foam sheets so that they won't be crushed. All this takes a lot of time and making those boxes is not only time consuming but technically challenging. Luckily taping on extra pieces of foamcore because I cut something too short does work.

This is stuff you never think of when you walk into a gallery and look at the work hanging on the walls. How the artist (or an assistant) had to put in so much time and effort to get the work to the gallery in good shape. Then somebody had to hang the work, after spending who knows how long figuring out the order in which the paintings should be displayed.


It's the housework of a show, that stuff that gets done when nobody's looking, like cleaning the toilet.

So now, outside of packing the car to drive to Maynard, (a feat which my dear partner-wife, the World's Greatest Packer, will be doing for me) and then driving nearly two hours to get there, the fun of it all is nearly here. Figuring out how a show will all go together taxes creativity but is very satisfying once it gels, like reaching the solution to a difficult problem.

1 comment:

Margaret Ryall said...

Encaustic is a tricky medium to create and then process for display. My husband has attached encaustic pieces for a friend of mine (a good idea to do this beforehand, but you can't always account for brainwaves after the fact). He has also designed and constructed shipping crates for encaustic work as long as 7 feet. I have seen first hand the challenges of transporting such delicate pieces. My friend, Angela Antle,is listed on my site under garden inspired art. I love her work and own a piece. Dust is another challenge with owning a piece of encaustic work.
I've begun to use encaustic in the last year and I've also created some 3D work with wax casting which has come out well. I love the ability to layer and create texture. So much to learn, so much left to experience. Thanks for the post on my blog. Everything is food for thought.