Sometimes I am surprised about what Cleveland art lovers don't know about SPACES.
For example, I've had conversations with people who attend every SPACES opening, but were not aware of our amazing artist-in-residence program, the SPACES World Artists Program (SWAP), which (to date) has brought 27 artists from around the world to live and make art in our city.
"Oh, that's so cool! I didn't know about it," I've heard more than one exhibition attendee say, once they have the full scoop on SWAP.
It makes me wonder sometimes exactly what we're conveying in our messages ... emails ... conversations ... about SPACES. Sometimes as a fundraiser, it's really, really hard to know how to tell my organization's story effectively. What words resonate? How much text is too much? Are we staying on-message?
Today, though, I learned about Wordle, and never again will I have to wonder what we're conveying on our homepage. According to the website, Wordle is "a toy for generating 'word clouds' from text that you provide. The clouds give greater prominence to words that appear more frequently in the source text."
Here's our Wordle. It might not tell you everything about SPACES ... but it's kind of pretty.
-- Posted by Sarah "Give us Money" Hoyt
Full Exposure 08.28.09
I am the nag. That is my role. I believe it has something to do with my job as communications manager. Or maybe it has to do with my desire to overcome a childhood battle relating to never being "heard". Maybe both. Regardless, it is my duty at SPACES to read the artist statements, process and re-work the art-speak and then spit it back out to the public, re-size images, launch the web page, Tweet, talk, advertise and Tweet more about the artist and the exhibitions--in advance, ON TIME and the way the writers want it upon request.
I nag the media. I nag my director and my co-workers (the program managers). I nag the artists. And because I have also been cursed with a life-long battle with guilt, I am taking this opportunity to put a halt to the nagging. Based on my experience as the artist's springboard to the public, I have provided a few pointers for those of you who have been accepted for a SPACES exhibition. This way, I won't have to ask twice and you won't hate me (fear of rejection: another issue I tackle).
1. Read SPACES' requests for materials thoroughly. Because SPACES shows work that is experimental in nature (and often created for the exhibition itself or during the run of the show), providing images of finished work can pose as a challenge. My suggestion (and preference): take images of the work as it is in the process of being created. If this won't work for you, provide images of past projects that best represent the work you plan to present during the exhibition. Either way, some visual representation is necessary.
2. While on the subject of images, I stress the importance of size and quality. As a general rule, print media requests that the gallery (or artist depending on the situation) provide images that are no smaller than 300 dpi, at least 8" X 10" in size, and come in a .jpg. or .tif format. So important. By providing images this way, right off the bat, you are generously giving us flexibility to work within print and web formats.
3. More on Images: Quality is so important. You worked so hard--poured your blood, sweat and tears into your project. Take a good photograph of it. Set up the scene. Think about composition. Follow through as an artist. You would be shocked if you knew how many images I've had to pass on because they were poorly lit, were cut off in odd places, and did not convey the amazing concepts driving the project.
4. Time is of the essence: SPACES has done a number of exhibitions featuring more than one artist. Oftentimes, I have had to go with a second, even third choice image because the best had yet to come. I have to contact the media weeks, sometimes months in advance, and if I do not do it with an image, my press materials will get lost in the inbox. We, as a gallery and as artists, must grab their attention with compelling visuals or we get lost in the shuffle.
5. Document the process: I mentioned this before. If you are creating something new, experimenting with new media, expanding upon or narrowing down a concept, whatever, keep us posted. Talk about it. Blog about it. It could potentially help you in your process, but it also keeps us on the same page. This means I can effectively communicate what it is you will be doing and in turn create a hook for the media.
6. Addendum to #5: Be clear about your process, intent, and concept. I attempt, at all costs, not to inject myself into your explanation of YOUR work. I realize that part of my job is to be a mediator/translator between the media and the artists. However, using lofty language in your artist statement, proposal, and other various explanations of your work can make it difficult to break down for media relations. Make it concise and to the point.
To read more on effectively applying to art spaces, check out ED Christopher Lynn's post.
I think this will be my last nag for a while. I feel good. Really good. Painful memories of neglected jazz hands, repeated requests for grape Kool-Aid (not orange), and my desire (need, actually) for the Barbie Dream House are fading off into the distance. I feel heard. Thank you for reading and for hearing me out. I hope it helps you on your experimental journey!
Posted by Nicole Edwards, Lover of Communications
Gettin' Down With Dee 08.27.09
Listen in as SPACES ED Christopher Lynn talks about the upcoming fall exhibitions on WCPN's Around Noon with Dee Perry. Lots covered: The Plum Academy: An Institute for Situated Practices, SPACELab artists Elaine Hullihen and Mark Moskovitz, and SWAP artist Jiķ Survka.
WCPN 90.3 FM
Aired Monday, August 24, 2009(37:55)
Listen to the archive audio here: http://www.ideastream.org/an/entry/27587
Who you will find at SPACES 08.18.09
Photo by Vanessa La Valle (of Vanessa La Valle), 2009
Vanessa La Valle. Super lady. Awesome Volunteer. You will find her here at SPACES telling stories (you would never believe unless you have met her in person), making us laugh, talking about art, and working hard and creatively while tackling any task thrown at her. Here is what she has to say about being an artist and finding SPACES:
"I love constructing environments. In the past, I was one of those teenagers with walls full of posters, ticket stubs and magazine clippings that amounted to a museum of my experiences and perceptions. Looking back on photographs of the rooms I have inhabited, I feel as if it is the clearest picture of my mind next to something a psychoanalyst might be able to come up with. In some ways it is like walking into the brain of the inhabitant. I am certain this old habit has influenced the way I create work and the type of places in which I would like to view and live.
Ten years later, after experimenting with constructing soundtracks to visuals and vice versa, I was searching on the internet for alternative approaches the traditional concept of the gallery; something that incorporated physical space into design. SPACELab is just that. Volunteering has been an excellent way of experiencing a segment of Cleveland's art scene and the nature of an alternative exhibition space."
If you want to see more of Vanessa's work, visit: topnotch-indeed.blogspot.com
When you walk into SPACES gallery you are not immediately met with a silent hush and if youre lucky, a haughty glance from the receptionist. The door isnt as tall as a house or as heavy as one nor is it made out of solid frosted glass. Upon entering SPACES you are met with the glow of natural light and, if its hot out, the warm rush of un-conditioned air. The natural wood floor will creak in an effort to immediately welcome you in.
Those creaks from the floor will mix with the various personal soundtracks playing at the staffs computers. Who knows, you might even be invited to participate in one of our spontaneous dance parties (weve been known to bust out to Beyonce). We may be Midwest but we know how to shake it down.
And yes, we have a bathroom (straight ahead and to your left). And yes, you may use it. But we also know interesting facts about the art installed and the artists who installed it (these elephants were delivered to us in boxes 2 hours before the exhibition opened). We may all wear trendy thick plastic glasses but were approachable (and smart) and happy to talk.
So next time youre in Cleveland or read a story on our blog take a second to introduce yourself. We're here for you and we want to know what you think. Because were located in Ohio, "The heart of it all, and SPACES takes heart seriously.
Contributed by: Susan Vincent, SPACELab Manager and front desk sitter