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How can hanging an exhibition be such a struggle?!?

It was going to be so simple: 9 artists, 39 watercolor paintings, lots of wall space with a rod and hook hanging system (no hammer and nails needed), and two experienced people to do the hanging.   Start at 11:00, finish by 2:00.  The Fall exhibition of the 1100 Watercolor Society at St. Francis College in Brooklyn Heights was going to be a piece of cake.

Not so fast.  First, we didn’t have all the paintings.  One person hadn’t responded and we weren’t sure how long to wait.  Not a biggie.  We’d just start with what we did have.

BUT, at 11:30 another group (Brooklyn Watercolor Society) arrived saying they were exhibiting in the same space at the same time (the month of September) and were to have their reception at the same time on the same day (Sept. 6, 6-8pm).

OMG, what do we do now?  The mistake was not ours or theirs;  obviously the host location had goofed.  It was a holiday weekend so we couldn’t reach anyone, and even if we could …. Both groups had promoted their exhibit and neither wanted to back off.

Much discussion later, we both compromised and split up the space in a way we both thought was fair.  And having a double reception was probably a benefit to both groups. More people would come.  Their work was on a par with ours;  nobody needed to be embarrassed.  Win-Win.  Whew.

So then we got down to the task of actually hanging the work and started to divvy up the hanging hooks. BUT, there were only 48 hooks.  The other group had 22 artists with 2 paintings each.  Nowhere near enough hooks for both groups.

OMG, what do we do now?  How could the place not have more hooks?  There hadn’t been a shortage the last time we exhibited there (2 years ago) but, of course, we were only one group then.

Again, much discussion later, we both compromised and split the number of hooks. That left each group to decide how to cut paintings from their exhibit.  Nobody was happy, but it was fair. We decided to go back to three paintings per artist and left the decision of which to eliminate up to the individual artist.  The other group went to a local hardware store and found something that could be used as a hook — laborious, but it would work. Whew.

So both groups finally got down to work and did the hanging.  A couple of times someone wanted to question the decisions made, but cooler heads prevailed. In the middle of it all we managed to decide who in each group would be responsible for bringing what to the reception.  Somehow, our group ended up with more hooks than we needed, so we gave them a few extra.  They needed more medium length rods and we needed more short rods — we swapped. We ended up not needing as much space as they did so we gave them the whole wall we had intended to split. Win-Win. Whew.

We were finished by 3:30; not so bad given the stops and starts.  They were still working when we left, courtesy of the more difficult hooks and the larger number of paintings.

What made the whole thing work was that a highly motivated bunch of artists understood that there was no perfect solution and that compromise was needed.  It helped that there was one cross group friendship and a lot of common interest. And the fact that we liked their work and they liked ours didn’t hurt.

Win-Win.  Whew.  It’s a good exhibit and will be a great reception.

Categories: Blog, Exhibitions, General
Posted by ruthhurd on September 2, 2013

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