Part 1, previously.
Here's an edited version of what dear husband wrote:
We returned from Maine today – two days of driving back through the Northeast. We had a great time, and got home bone tired from the travel, unpacked, and collapsed onto the couch just as darkness fell. I wanted to leave the Gallery for tomorrow (I have the day off to rest up) – and all my questions unanswered until then. But my wife, being the wise woman she is, held up her car keys and said, “Are you coming downtown with me to see the Gallery?” She knew I shouldn’t put it off.
So we drove down and parked and walked round the corner and saw the window. I was stunned. I stood there with a lot of things running through my head – “They DID it!” and “Why did I think this would be any different?” and “I KNEW they would get it done on time” and “I am SO relieved” and “This looks GOOD.”
In the lobby we turned on the light and there was the sign on the door – the logo on top, the list of names, all looking quite professional. I think the logo committee and designer did a great job in a very short time. I stood there gaping at it. Nice colors, great simple layout, the list of names makes us look prolific.
We got inside the Hillsborough Gallery of Arts and I was looking at the table, and all the signs of work neatly arranged on it. I saw the shelf we bought – it looked terrific, with great looking work on it. ... I flipped through the inventory notebook. I noticed that a piece already had been sold. Everything looked well organized. I tried to picture the monumental effort that must have taken place this last week and I failed. On one hand I couldn’t believe what I was seeing – so much had been done so quickly. It looked better and more complete than I imagined possible. On the other hand, I just grinned hugely and thought, “But that’s who we are – we’re this incredibly well balanced group of people who all do what’s needed – we get stuff DONE.” I marveled again at the way we have all come together for this.
While I was occupied with that, my wife quietly went through the rest of the gallery. Without my noticing she got the other lights on. When I turned I encountered my own work on the wall through the doorway. Then I walked around the corner to see a tall painting to the left, and then I walked into the main gallery. I was stunned. I mean I knew they would do a great job one way or another, but it looked so good and they had so little time. When I last saw the space the evening of 9/1 it was a mess with lighting still incomplete. Now it was clean, well lit, and beautifully arranged.
I don’t recall in what order these impressions arrived, but I think this is most of them. Picture me walking around with my mouth hanging open.
“This looks GREAT!”
“The work is all good, and it all works well together.”
“The hanging looks GREAT – and it can’t have been easy to get it all to look that way.”
“They got a second shelf unit! And it looks terrific in here.”
“They got a jewelry case! Man! Was there anything they didn’t get done? There’s even a CD player over here, and there’s the back door alarm!”
“My work is overpriced – I will fix that tomorrow.”
“They did a great job giving everyone good exposure throughout the gallery, AND it looks well arranged. That must have been a juggling act.”
“Look at these prints in the display loaned to us.”
“We’re really up and running!”
I walked around with her and we talked about the art. I have a lot to learn from all of the other artists. So many things I will look at over and over again.
And that’s the most important thing I noticed. Galleries either hook me, so I crave to go back and look again because I didn’t get it all (and will never get it all), OR they leave me feeling let down and with no reason to go back. I already want to go back to look at the art again. So we pass my personal first and most important test for a gallery.
Finally, my wife and I together began discussing things. She is a musician and a mathematician, who claims not to understand the visual arts very well. But she is actually very perceptive, and I have learned to listen carefully to her impressions. She noticed that the main gallery is quite a bit colder, visually, and less inviting than the rest – especially once the lights are off in the upper gallery. She mentioned that the main gallery doesn’t invite you to stay in it. She felt the terra cotta walls actually worked very well in the upper gallery, and I also immediately changed my mind about it. Without sufficient light, it’s too dark (at first we couldn’t get all the lights on – we missed a switch) but with all the lights on, it sets the artwork off quite well. The main gallery, in contrast, probably needs more color on the walls, or at least a warmer shade.
My pieces are less colorful than most of the rest - I will have to think about that. I had felt that I was being too tentative with color, hanging around with the rest of the artists confirms it. I paint in a very small space, and need to get further from my work.
She was impressed by the quality of the work. She pointed out that some galleries have pieces you look at and think, “How did that get in here?” – ours doesn’t have any like that. She felt we all looked great together. Over and over she was struck by how well and how quickly things had come together. She was very impressed. I was impressed, too, and beyond that. I was grateful, proud to be part of this, amazed…
We had to pick up groceries after that. As we walked from the car, talking about bringing the kids down tomorrow to see it, I felt like I was floating. I was thinking to myself that I was about 18 inches off the ground – I’d have to duck my head to get into Lowe’s Foods. She suddenly asked, “So how many inches off the ground are you?” I laughed out loud and told her I had just been thinking it was about 18 inches…
I thank the other artists, for one of the most incredible experiences of my life. And I thanked my wife for coaxing me to go down and look tonight, when we could see it unfold from the dark to the light, and have the wonder we've all made come into view gradually, with time and quiet to savor the accomplishment.
[Back to me]
The Hillsborough Gallery of Arts had its pre-opening (which went very well) while we were gone. This weekend, there will be a book reading/book signing with Lee Smith. The reading is sponsored by Brick Alley Books, but it will be in the Gallery space. Dear Husband will be there in the afternoon. The Gallery's grand opening will be during the Hillsborough Last Friday's Celebration, September 29 from 6 to 9 pm.
The outside of the building. Little Luxuries is on the right, and the window to the left has works from the Gallery (the window photo didn't turn out, though).
The main gallery (above).
The upper gallery.