Sunday, January 20, 2019

"Signs of the Times" Juried Art Show at Gallery Clarendon

The Immigrants - Working the Line
The Opening Reception was held this past Friday, January 11 from 5-8PM. Over 350 art patrons visited the show and enjoyed wine and snacks while viewing the incredible submissions form artists all over the country. 
Black Icons

Though you may have missed the opening Friday night the show runs through the month of January.  Make sure you stop by to see works that have been drawn from across the country for this show and interpret signs of our times in various ways: real or imagined, literal or figurative, positive or negative. Art styles range from traditional to conceptual, in two-dimensional and three-dimensional works that address, question, protest and celebrate our changing and diverse world. This show was juried by Bev Ryan, local artist and instructor at the Art League. Many of her own installations are reflective of the show’s theme making her an ideal choice as jurist.
The winners of the show are: 
  • BEST IN SHOW: Justyne Fischer, Black Icons
  • 2nd Place: Alicia Hagadorn, Global Temperature Since 1880: A Warning 
  • 3rd Place: Elsa Riveros, Khashoggi Pulp NON Fiction
  • 4th Place, Susan Gartner, Mixed Message
  • Honorable Mention: David Ausman, The Immigrants - Working the Line
  • Honorable Mention: Dorian Berman, Roots and Wings
  • Honorable Mention: Mia Cinelli, Gender Tools
    Advise For My Daughter
  • Honorable Mention: Steena Fullmer-Anderson, Advise For My Daughter
  • Honorable Mention: Leslie Giles, Hurricane, Sundance Realty
  • Honorable Mention: Roya Honarvar, After the Storm
  • Honorable Mention: Alan Ladwig, Climate Change
Congratulations to all of those that won, and to all of those that participated.  It was a wonderful showing, and there is some great art to be seen!

Thursday, December 13, 2018

"Out of the Blue" and Holiday Party

Don't forget about the December Holiday Party and artist meet and greet Friday night from 5-8 PM at another Arlington Artist Alliance.  All of the artists who show their creations at Gallery Clarendon will be on hand to show you their work, talk about their processes, and hand you a glass of wine!  

Don't forget to visit the artists studios upstairs.  More great work for you to peruse and enjoy.  The gallery also has holiday table with great pieces that commemorate the holiday season.   

This months theme is "Out of the Blue."  Many artists have submitted art work that in someway represent the color blue. We look forward to seeing everyone tomorrow night for an enjoyable evening.  

Tuesday, December 11, 2018

Best Little Holiday Gift Shop!!!

If you are having trouble finishing out that holiday shopping list, or just can't figure out what to give to that "difficult to shop for" friend, relative or loved one then you missed out on the best little
holiday gift store, and it's right under your nose:  Your local art gallery and/or studio!  And why not?  You can find unique items there that match the personality of, and are as unique as every person you are shopping for.  

Think about all those wonderful items that can be found there.  From framed 2D art such as paintings of all types and sizes (oils, watercolors, large, medium and small) to photographs of far off places many have dreamt of, and many have visited.  

There are 3D artists that represent at these local galleries that make many beautiful pieces from different media such as pottery, glass, wood, ceramics, mosaics and more.  These pieces can be as unique,
interesting and beautiful as any picture or painting.  Maybe there is a person who would appreciate beautiful hand made silver or copper jewelry?  You could also  can find an item made by the local wood artists that go along with the decor of that new condo or home that an acquaintance recently bought.  

Here is the best part to this shopping experience:  You know you are buying a beautiful piece that is hand made, and no two are alike!  Each item is an individual creation from the artists.  Artists spend months, and years learning the skills to create art in their respective medium.  So you get not only the passion they put
behind their work, but a piece from a very experienced artist who has most likely spent hours, days or even weeks on the piece of art you are considering buying.  You can't say that about that blasé sweater you were looking at in your local department store that is on a rack with 30 of the same sweater (albeit different sizes).   

Currently both Gallery Underground and Gallery Clarendon have "holiday tables" full of great holiday gift ideas.  They also have their full compliment of artists submissions for the choosing. And don't forget that both locations have multiple artists studios where you can not only shop more selection of artists pieces but you may catch one at work on a current piece. 

So this holiday season as you finish out your shopping don't forget to stop in at that local art gallery or studio to find that special gift idea for that special person.  

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Thinking of Entering that Juried Show? Do Your Research!

By Sandi Parker

If you're an artist, you probably spend a fair amount of time scrolling through listings of calls for entry for national juried shows. Getting accepted into a juried show is a great ego boost for an artist, and something to add to your resume. Especially at a nice gallery.

A reception at Gallery Underground

If you're lucky enough to have your work accepted, you may even be awarded by the juror - that Best in Show, 2nd or 3rd place or Honorable Mention looks great on your CV. And the receptions are always nice to attend, especially if it's local and you can invite your friends. 

Before ponying up the $35+ entry fee for that show that sounds just perfect for your work, however, you will want to find out several things about the show. Obviously you'll want to thoroughly read the prospectus be be sure this show is right for you, and also to be sure you're familiar with any and all rules and restrictions (artists sometimes fail to read the fine print on sizes, for instance, only to pay the non-refundable fee and have their work rejected because it's over the size limit). But in addition to carefully reading the prospectus, there are other things to consider and, in some cases, research before clicking the "enter" button. what kind of gallery will my art be?
Location, Location. Is it local? Legit? Brick and Mortar? Be sure to check out where the venue is located if you don't want to ship. Many artists are fine with shipping their work but others are a bit squeamish about it - the chance their work may be damaged in transit and/or the costs of shipping  - both ways - can be a deterrent.  While you're at it, don't just glance at the location and think "Oh yes, I can drive there." Put the address of the venue into google maps. That street view that pops up? It can be your friend in this instance. There are some - er - questionable calls for art where the venue is actually someone's house (I participated in a show like this - paintings were hanging in the bedrooms, kitchen...even the bathroom!) or in a downright scary area of the city where you might need a bodyguard to get your work in and out without being mugged. There are also art calls where the art is hung in the lobby of a building or in an office area not open to the public, and you may feel these are not worth your while. You may be fine participating in all of these types of shows - but if not, you won't want to have any upsetting surprises. 

Another mistake that is easy to make is not realizing that the location of the "gallery" is....actually online. There are a lot of online juried shows that are a wonderful financial windfall for the outfits organizing them, since there is no overhead and they are raking in the entry fees. There is also no reception, no actual gallery where people can see the art...again, you may be ok with it, but be mindful of what you are - and are not - going to get out of this after forking over the entry fee.

Make sure your shows don't overlap
How long will they have your art? It sounds obvious, but it is easy to overlook the actual length of the show. You may glance at the receiving date and assume it's for a month, which most shows are. Some, however, can go for months on end, and you'll need to be sure you're ok with having your art tied up for that long. And be sure, if you enter a lot of juried shows, that you are not overlapping. Gallery A won't be pleased if you inform them you need your art back before the show is over because you got into a show at Gallery B. And Gallery B won't be pleased if your piece sells at Gallery A and you have nothing to display at their show. It helps to keep a calendar of shows you have entered showing drop off, reception and pickup.

If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. It sounds counter-intuitive, but be wary of a call to artists with no entry fee. Most legitimate galleries have to charge an entry fee to pay for all the expenses associated with mounting a show. If there is no entry fee, chances are there will be hidden fees, such as being hit up for the cost of publishing a booklet about the exhibition if you're accepted - and these costs can be higher than most average entry fees. There are sometimes shows mounted by non-profit galleries that are funded by corporations who foot the bill, so you'll want to research this - usually you can find out if the show is being underwritten. These can also have hidden fees, however.

How prestigious is the juror?
Who is the juror? As all artists know, you can never predict what any juror will choose, and if you try, you'll fail. However, researching the juror may be the deciding factor in whether you enter the show. The more well-known and prestigious the juror, the better and more prestigious the show is likely to be. If you are trying to build your resume and this is important to you, then doing your research on the juror is important. And on the other hand, if you're unable to pull up much info on the juror, you may feel this show won't give you much bang for your buck if you are accepted.

These are just a few of the things you should research when making a decision to enter a show. As with anything, "buyer beware."

Sandi Parker is an artist who works in both traditional oils and abstract acrylics. She is the Co-Director of Gallery Underground in Crystal City, VA.

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

8th in a Series on the Solo Show: THE HOW, Part 3 - Receptions (Work it!)

By Sandi Parker

Many of us have done it, most of us have considered it, some of us have just dreamt about it: mounting a solo show. This is the 8th in a series of posts about the nuts, bolts, dos, don'ts, lessons learned, opportunities missed, psychological trauma and euphoria of mounting a solo show; the why, where, when, what, who and how.

THE HOW, Part 3 - Receptions (Work it!)

Your opening reception will most likely be where you make the majority of your sales - either right there at the opening, or later, as potential buyers have time to ponder what they saw at the opening. Getting folks there is half the battle, and you've done the work of advertising the opening (see blog posts 6 and 7 in this series). So you want to make sure you've also done the work of setting up and working a successful reception.


One of the most important things you can do is time your reception correctly. 2 hours is the maximum length of time you should hold your reception. If it goes for longer than that, you will get people straggling in all night long and you will never feel that you have gotten a crowd there. And a crowd is important, as it creates an atmosphere of importance to your event. In addition, especially if the event is held on a Saturday, people generally will plan to do something else that night, so you don't want them to feel they are tied up too long. 6:00 to 8:00 is an ideal time. People can get there from work and/or still feel they can go to dinner afterward.


What you serve may well be dictated by your venue. If your show is at a restaurant, cafe or coffee shop, you will most likely be paying the venue to provide the food and drink. Most people attending an art opening will expect to have wine available, and I can't stress enough the importance of having wine - it adds to the festive atmosphere and creates an aura of professionalism and sophistication at your event. You don't want your guests to feel as though they are at a student art show. If food and drink are not provided by your venue, and you will be providing it, you need not put out an elaborate spread. In fact, I recommend you do not. You are not providing a meal, and guests will not expect it. Fancy, elaborate, overly abundant or quirky themed food will take away from your art. You want people looking at your work, not spending all their time gathered around the food table.

A simple platter of cheese, crackers and grapes, and perhaps another of bite-sized sweets will be sufficient. Do not provide plates, as this encourages people to focus on loading up and going back for food - and do make sure all your food is bite-sized so no forks are required - just napkins. I recommend having both the bar and food on one table - and with just one or two platters, this is totally do-able on a 6-foot table.

If your venue will not be providing a bartender, arrange to have one there - hire a college student or press a friend into service. Again, this adds an element of sophistication to the event. Since you will just be serving wine and soft drinks - and perhaps beer - the bartender job is an easy one, limited to opening bottles and pouring.

There is debate about whether to serve just white wine, or to serve both white and red at art receptions. Many galleries, especially if they are carpeted, prohibit red wine because of staining. It is totally up to you and your venue whether to include both red and white, and whether to include beer. I have one friend who is always relieved to see beer at Gallery Underground's receptions - providing beer to a non-wine-drinker just might make you a friend and customer!

Of course, always be sure to provide water or sparkling water for those patrons who do not drink alcohol. And unless you want all your profits to go into wine, be sure to use small (9 oz) plastic glasses  and instruct your bartender to limit the size of the pours. You also don't want tipsy patrons crashing into your artwork!


This most likely goes without saying, but you want your opening to be elegant, and you want to project an air of professionalism. You are an artist, so of course people won't necessarily expect you to dress like a banker - BUT, you do not want to be in sloppy, overly casual clothing either. You want to project the attitude that you take your work seriously and that they should to - and your clothing should reflect this, so by all means, dress up - this is your big moment! And you will most likely find that your guests will be dressed up for your opening as well.


The most important thing you can do at your reception is try to talk to as many guests as you can, and discuss your work with them. Even though it's a cocktail party-like atmosphere where people will be chatting about all sorts of things, remember why you - and they - are here, and try to keep the conversation focused on your work. Ask them which pieces they like and why, and offer up your inspiration in creating them. This is especially true for guests at your reception that you do not know. People tend to buy from people they make connections with. If they enjoy talking with you, they will be more inclined to want to buy from you. Try not to get too drawn into lengthy conversations with friends and family to the point where you are ignoring other guests. You may or may not want to give a talk during the evening. Some artists do not like to have to stop all the energy in the room to make a speech, while others like the chance to thank their guests and make a few remarks about the work. If you feel comfortable with public speaking, by all means go for it, but don't feel you have to if it is not in your wheelhouse. If you do decide to speak, have a microphone available, and plan to talk about halfway through the reception when the most guests are present.

Most of all - try to enjoy yourself! This night is about you, and you have worked very hard for it, so revel in the moment!

For more information about having a solo show at Gallery Underground, please visit our website: 

Sandi Parker is an artist who works in both traditional oils and abstract acrylics. She is the Co-Director of Gallery Underground and has mounted 3 successful solo shows: in 2007, 2010 and 2016.

Friday, May 19, 2017

7th in a Series on The Solo Show - THE HOW, Part 2 (Reaching EVERYONE)

By Sandi Parker

Many of us have done it, most of us have considered it, some of us have just dreamt about it: mounting a solo show. This is the seventh in a series of posts about the nuts, bolts, dos, don'ts, lessons learned, opportunities missed, psychological trauma and euphoria of mounting a solo show; the why, where, when, what, who and how.

THE HOW, Part 2 - Reaching EVERYONE
(Including those elusive non-social media types)

You've done your due diligence and have been posting away on social media (see post #6 in this series on social media posting) about your upcoming solo show. But as we all know, not everyone is on social media, so you need to have additional strategies for reaching those potential buyers.


The most obvious way you can reach not only your Facebook buddies but everyone you know is, of course, via your postcard. ALWAYS have a postcard printed for your solo show (some venues will do this for you, with your input, and some will give you a template). I recommend paying a little extra to have a larger postcard printed - 5x7 is a good size. It does cost a little more to mail, but you want your postcard to have impact. Small postcards get overlooked, lost or just not noticed. Next, choose the art you want on the postcard. I do not recommend putting 5 pieces of art on your postcard - or even two. You do not want to give away your whole show on the postcard leading people to think, "Oh well, I've seen most of the show here, maybe I don't need to go." What you want is a teaser - pick your best work, the one you are most proud of and - this is very important - the piece that you think really represents the rest of the show.

Be very judicious in what verbiage you put on the front of the postcard. The key here is that you want the the viewer to be drawn in with a quick glance - not turned off by having way too much to read (we're talking short attention spans here, people - remember that you are competing with the rest of the mail that your postcard will arrive with!) On the above postcard, there is a terrific painting, the name of the show, the artist, and the dates. Some people choose to use just the title and name of the artist on the front - a good idea as it forces the viewer to turn the postcard over to find out when the show is, and then they will see the rest of the pertinent info. However, the downside is that when it is tacked to a bulletin board or stuck on the fridge, the viewer won't be able to remind themselves of the date with just a glance. You can also add the date of the opening reception, but again - be wary of too much print.

The postcard on the right lists one date (presumably the opening reception day) - a good option to provide a reminder if the postcard is tacked up - and also states the location of the show. This show does not have a title, but a description of the show. You may want to add a descriptive line even if your show has a title - "Italian Landscapes," "Acrylic Abstracts," etc.

For the back of your postcard, you - once again - do not want to have TOO much verbiage. Below is an example of a simple template. It is always a good idea to add a logo from your venue if you can obtain one. Include the address and hours of the venue. In addition to your name, title of the show, descriptive line, dates and opening reception info, you may also want to add your website. Be sure to leave enough room on the right side for mailing addresses.

Prices for printing vary, which may affect how many you order - however, you will want A LOT of postcards, not only for mailing but for giving out, putting in coffee shops and any place else that will allow it, a stack to keep in your car/handbag/studio, etc. You should order a minimum of 500. Sounds like a lot, but you'll end up using most of them - and remember that your venue will want several hundred for their own patrons. One of the most economical printing sites I've found is VistaPrint. ( - they are inexpensive and have telephone assistance to help you with your design. Be sure to get a jpeg of your postcard, both front and back (you can usually download this from the site you ordered your postcards on). Use this for posting on social media and for emails (see below). And, be sure to mail your postcards to EVERYONE you know, including friends, relatives and previous buyers of your work.


Another vital avenue of communication to those who may not be on social media is email. A good thing to have is an "email newsletter." If you have a hosted website, such as artspan, they may have a free template for sending email newsletters - and there are sites such as Constant Contact, Mail Chimp and IContact, some of which are free and some of which charge a subscription, that you can use to send newsletters. The advantage with a newsletter format is that it looks very professional and is set up to allow for posting photos. But even if you don't want to go the newsletter route, you should still send out several emails during the run up to your show.

Try to include a photo of your postcard, front and back if you are able. Embedding the image in the body of the email is better than attaching it, since most people don't want to bother opening attachments, especially if they have to be downloaded. Most free emails such as Outlook and gmail now provide for dropping in photos. Basically you will be giving a quick reminder of your show; make the email personal and describe how excited you are about the show and that you hope to see everyone there. You may want to send one email every month prior to your show - and be sure to add all the pertinent info.

An example of an email newsletter using IContact

No matter what form of communication you use to get people to your show, the key is to COMMUNICATE - early and often!

For more information about having a solo show at Gallery Underground, please visit our website: 

Next in the series: THE HOW, Part 3 - Your reception

Sandi Parker is an artist who works in both traditional oils and abstract acrylics. She is the Co-Director of Gallery Underground and has mounted 3 successful solo shows: in 2007, 2010 and 2016.

Friday, December 16, 2016

6th in a Series on The Solo Show - THE HOW, Part 1 (Killing it on Social Media)

By Sandi Parker

Many of us have done it, most of us have considered it, some of us have just dreamt about it: mounting a solo show. This is the sixth in a series of posts about the nuts, bolts, dos, don'ts, lessons learned, opportunities missed, psychological trauma and euphoria of mounting a solo show; the why, where, when, what, who and how.

THE HOW, Part 1 - Killing it on Social Media

Let's just put it right out there - by the time your opening reception rolls around, you should be absolutely sick of yourself. Sick of hearing yourself say the words "my solo show," sick of talking about it, mailing, emailing, texting and posting about it. Because only then will you know that you have done everything possible to get bodies to your show; both the opening and - for those who can't make your opening - the show during its run. It is imperative that by the date of your opening, there is no one in (or out of) your orbit who can truly say they didn't know you were having a solo show. This is accomplished on several fronts, and with a timeline. One of the most effective fronts is Social Media.

Below is a marketing timeline. At each of these points you should hit up the following, at a minimumFacebook, Twitter, Instagram and your blog.

1. When you are accepted by a venue for a solo show: Now is the time to announce your exciting news. Be sure you have the TITLE established before you post and email. And even better, have at least one work finished and photographed. It should be mentioned here that it is very important to have your pieces professionally photographed as you go along, so you will have beautiful things to post. The last thing you want is to have out of focus photos with bad color and lighting. You want to have the best representation of yourself, so invest in hiring a professional photographer experienced in photographing art. A bonus is that you can use these images later to enter your work in juried shows.

Your Facebook, Twitter and Instagram posts should be short but should convey your excitement. Start with "Exciting news!!" Then say that you have been accepted for a solo show of (medium) at (venue) for (month/year) and then the title. Attach a photo of a piece you plan to put in the show. You may want to create a hashtag with the title of your show. And with Twitter and Instagram, be sure to use hashtags such as #soloshow #soloartshow #artshow and hashtag your medium and subject matter (for more on tweeting, read this blog post:

If you have an art blog, now is the time to blog about your exciting news! Expand on how you developed your concept and what your contacts can expect to see when they come to the show.

2. As you are working on your pieces: Periodically give teasers on what you are working on; if you don't want to show the whole painting (some people like to keep the work a "surprise" for the opening), you can show just a portion of the painting, as in this Instagram post:

The most important thing is to be constantly posting so that your audience will be reminded of the upcoming show. Your blog posts should touch on subjects such as how the work is progressing, humorous anecdotes about the process, planning for your reception -- anything that keeps your upcoming solo show in peoples' minds and - most importantly - intrigues them to want to come to the show!

3. In the last few weeks leading up to the show: Here is when you want to do your big push on social media, posting constantly. One important aspect of your show is obviously going to be your postcard (a future post will address the postcard.) When your postcards arrive, immediately post a photo of your hand holding one - this is a great way to draw attention to the upcoming show. The caption can be "It's actually happening!" or "Look what just arrived!!" In addition, as the date of the opening draws near, post photos of yourself at work, and it's always a good idea to catch the viewers' attention by adding text to the photograph, such as below - a quick way to remind your contacts of the date of the opening. This Facebook post said "Tick Tock - solo show fast approaching!" Don't have photoshop? No problem. The free online tool PicMonkey is very easy to use and you can do a lot of the basics of photoshopping.

4. The day you hang and the day of the reception: When you are hanging your show, have someone take photographs of the process or - better yet - take a video of you hanging the show. This really ramps up interest in your show. These photos and videos can be posted on all forms of social media. The day of, post a photo of any signage at or near your show. Did someone send you congratulatory flowers? Post a photo with a thank you. If you are able, during your reception, live tweet and instagram photos of the event.

5.  After the show opens: Be sure to post photos of works that have sold - this will ramp up interest in your show and remind people that it is still going on. And by all means post photos of all the people at your reception and tag them - so that these photos show up on their social media platforms and their contacts can see them!

6. When the show comes down: Just because your show is coming down does not mean you can't post about it - write a blog post about the experience; post photos of all the works that sold; indicate you are available for commissions.

Hopefully you will find that folks will mention when they see you that they are excited about your show and have been following your progress on social media! To reach those who are not on social media, stay tuned for the next post in this series.

For more information about having a solo show at Gallery Underground, please visit our website: 

Next in the series: THE HOW, Part 2 - Reaching Those Elusive Non-Social Media Types

Sandi Parker is an artist who works in both traditional oils and abstract acrylics. She is the Co-Director of Gallery Underground and has mounted 3 successful solo shows: in 2007, 2010 and 2016.

Thursday, November 17, 2016

Fifth in a Series on the Solo Show: The WHO (It's not WHAT you know, but...)

By Sandi Parker

Many of us have done it, most of us have considered it, some of us have just dreamt about it: mounting a solo show. This is the fifth in a series of posts about the nuts, bolts, dos, don'ts, lessons learned, opportunities missed, psychological trauma and euphoria of mounting a solo show; the why, where, when, what, who and how.


You're getting close. You know why you are mounting this solo show, you know what gallery or venue is hosting it, you know when it's being installed, you have a killer concept, and you're rapidly finishing up the last of the works. The finish line is in sight. But now you're waking up in a cold sweat: "What if NO ONE comes to my opening?" The opening reception is the single most important aspect of your show. It is when a (hopefully large) group of people will show up to support you. Many of these will be friends, family and co-workers. If your first thought is that those are NOT your ideal buyers - think again. They are your TARGET AUDIENCE.

Those who know you - and like you - best will be the most familiar with what you are working on. They will have seen your Facebook posts with photos of works in progress (more on marketing in the next blog post). They will have gotten a breathless "solo show" response every time they've small-talked with you at a party and asked "Hey, what's new in your life?" They will heed your call to PLEASE save this date. Because they like you, respect you, admire your work and - this is KEY - they WANT TO SUPPORT YOU. They will be your most prolific buyers.

This brings up an uncomfortable reality to the introverted among us. Ugh, I have to talk about/promote/advertise myself to my friends, family and co-workers? Yes. Yes, you do. Many artists balk at this, believing they are somehow taking advantage of their close contacts. However, let me say it again: your friends, family and coworkers like you, respect you, admire your work and want to support you. And they WILL buy from you. An art purchase, much like the purchase of a house, is an emotional purchase. People buy art that speaks to them, that they can imagine looking at every day on the wall of their home - but they also like knowing that they supported a talented artist that they have a connection to. Many art collectors form close relationships with artists they have never met, and as this relationship develops, they buy from them again and again. It is this personal connection to the artist, as well as their love of the artist's work, that brings them back for more.

You may not realize it, but there are probably many people in your circle of friends, family and coworkers who have seen your work here and there on social media, in your home, or at the occasional art show - they liked the art, they like you, and they are thinking, some day I'm going to see the perfect piece from this artist and buy it. Suddenly they are standing at your reception, in a venue with 20 or so of your works on the wall. The pieces all go together and make a statement. And remember, this is your solo show, and it is your best work. Pieces you have been working on for a year or more, that you feel great about. Those friends and family who have been wanting one of your pieces are very likely to see that piece that they love in this show and purchase it.

If you have a range of prices and sizes on your work (and I highly recommend this), there may be those who buy a small, less-expensive piece solely because they do want to support you; they are not willing to shell out a lot for a large piece, but they will purchase a small piece as a tribute to you and your show. And that's ok. You need not feel guilty that "oh, they felt they HAD to buy something." There is nothing wrong with loved ones showing - well, their love for you by supporting your work. BUT - there will also be those in your circle of friends and family who purchase major works. And, make no mistake - no one is going to drop a LOT of money on a LARGE piece just to support you. They are doing it because they LOVE you and the work. They are thrilled to be getting this major piece of art, and thrilled that they are supporting you at the same time. It's a win-win for them. And for you.

So as far as "the who" in the equation of who you want to invite (and badger, remind, beg) to come to your reception, it's those you are closest to first. Rounding out your invitation list will be anyone (and everyone) who has ever purchased a work from you. Mail them a postcard, email them, call them - whatever contact info you have for them. This is a ready-made audience of people who you know already love your work, because they already own it (see: buyers forming a personal connection to artists, above). In addition, invite strangers. Take a stack of your postcards and put them everywhere you can think of. Ask the people at your daily coffee spot stop if they'll put some out; ask your gym; your spouse's coworkers; your kids' teachers; stick postcards in the mailboxes of all your neighbors (even the ones 8 streets over who don't know you - put a note on it telling them you're a neighbor). The sky's the limit. You have an advantage here - you're not selling vacuum cleaners or knives. You're hosting a cultural event - one with free wine (did I mention how important the wine is? See an upcoming blog post on receptions). Remember, you are hosting a cool party that just happens to - oh by the way - feature beautiful art - and everyone loves art!

But you knew that. 

For more information about having a solo show at Gallery Underground, please visit our website:

Next in the series: THE HOW, Part 1 - Killing it on Social Media

Sandi Parker is an artist who works in both traditional oils and abstract acrylics. She is the Co-Director of Gallery Underground and has mounted 3 successful solo shows: in 2007, 2010 and 2016.

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Fourth in a Series on the Solo Show: The WHAT (Got Concept?)

by Sandi Parker

Many of us have done it, most of us have considered it, some of us have just dreamt about it: mounting a solo show. This is the fourth in a series of posts about the nuts, bolts, dos, don'ts, lessons learned, opportunities missed, psychological trauma and euphoria of mounting a solo show; the why, where, when, what, who and how.


One of the most important aspects of developing a solo show is coming up with a theme for your show. This will drive the entire process: your title, the pieces you choose, your press, your postcard and everything else surrounding your show - and most importantly: your chances of being accepted. Even if you have a large inventory of works with which to mount a show, if you do not have a cohesive theme that ties them together, chances are you will not be accepted via jury for an exhibition.


Talented artists are sometimes rejected when they apply for solo shows not because their work isn't good, but because they either didn't have - or did not articulate well - an idea that tied their work together. As mentioned in a previous blog on the "Why," it is important to approach a solo show with passion. If you are just picking random pieces out of storage or off of your studio wall and trying to force them into a theme, it will come through in your application. You want the jurors to see that you have a clear focus that you are creating works around, something that has meaning for you. Your theme can be pretty much anything, but it should have a clear point of view. If you have done a series of works on, say, Tuscany - you will need to come up with something interesting about that place that ties the work together, and for which you can come up with a catchy name for the show, You might want to think about a certain aspect of that area, such as all paintings of vineyards, landscapes of towns, or paintings of marketplaces. Even if your pieces do not all have the same subject matter, they need to look cohesive when hung, so a particular theme is important so that the show does not look disjointed. 


The title you choose will be the FIRST thing the jurors see, and you want to draw them in with it. Just calling your paintings of Italy "Italian Landscapes" isn't going to excite them. If, as mentioned above, your paintings of Tuscany that have different subject matter, you could present your work as a "journey" and call it "Viaggio: Traveling Through Tuscany." Viaggio is the Italian word for journey and has a nice ring to it, and "Traveling" and "Tuscany" have nice alliteration; the title also tells the viewer that they are going to be seeing different aspects of the country.


Now that you have your theme and title, you need to describe it well, to catch the interest of the jurors, who may actually read your description before viewing your work. You want them to be intrigued. Do not make your description too long, but be sure it is well thought-out. For instance:

"Viaggio: Traveling to Tuscany" 

"A vibrant collection of impressionistic oils capturing the essence of Tuscany; its people, cuisine and customs; its ancient beauty, rustic towns and brilliant flora and fauna. Painted over a period of 16 months, these paintings capture, in loose style with glowing pastel colors, the essence of a country that has captured the imagination of people for centuries..."

You can build on it from there, but you want to describe your thought process in wanting to make these paintings, your style, and your subject matter. Again, if YOU are excited by these paintings, this will come through in your description.


Even if you have several works you think you want to build a show around, be sure you have a vision for how these pieces work together, and plan on creating new works for the show. You may already have pieces that are are great and work with your theme, but you'll want to give yourself the option of adding new, fresher pieces that have been created just for this show. You will also feel better knowing you have more than enough works for the show and can eliminate ones you feel are not as strong. Do not apply for a solo show until you have 4-5 works that are very strong and that you yourself feel strongly about; these are what are going to get you accepted - or rejected - as a solo artist, so they need to be your best work. And by all means, read your description - aloud - and then look at the pieces you are about to submit. Do they represent your concept? Or will the jurors be scratching their heads wondering how these pieces relate to what they have just read about your potential show? Even if you have a terrific piece that you love - if it doesn't fit the theme, do not include it. You have the option of working it in later, but if it doesn't work well with your description - and the other pieces you are submitting - you would be wiser to not use it in your application process.

You have now done the hard part, and are ready to throw your artist's hat in the ring and apply for a solo show - good luck!

For more information about having a solo show at Gallery Underground, please visit our website:

Next in the Series:  The WHO: Finding and Capturing Your Audience

Sandi Parker is an artist who works in both traditional oils and abstract acrylics. She is the Co-Director of Gallery Underground and has mounted 3 successful solo shows: in 2007, 2010 and 2016.

Thursday, August 18, 2016

Weaving Memories - the Art of Mary-Jeanne Reid Martz

Artist Mary-Jeanne Reid Martz
"I believe that painting is creating a spell—a mood—not recreating a scene or object," says artist Mary-Jeanne Reid Martz, who is known for her vibrant oil paintings, as well as watercolors. Many of these paintings are landscapes based on her extensive travels.

"I filter scenes or compositions through my experiences and emotions," she continues. "A finished painting is meant to be evocative, not necessarily narrative, of something I am seeing, and/or have seen or experienced.  The play of light, value, contrast, and perspective are critical, but remain mine to manipulate and capture within my own vision.  My objective is to make every work a piece of myself."

Fall on Lake Como, oil by Mary-Jeanne Reid Martz
Having been brought up in Florida, Martz was struck by the different light she found when first visiting the Smoky Mountains of North Carolina. Different types of light provided distinct moods and emotions, and she loved to watch the changes in light and clouds moving in the sky. "Increasingly, I have added more sky and clouds to my landscape paintings," she says.

Afterglow, oil by Mary-Jeanne Reid Martz
Since her early 20’s, Martz has traveled extensively, first to New Zealand, then around the world by ship, and later to adventures in Latin America, the Caribbean, and Europe. 

"Certain scenes have provided me with a directory of light, mood, and atmosphere.  The challenge has been to weave memories of all those places with the present." 

Pacific Waves, oil by Mary-Jeanne Reid Martz
"Thomas Jefferson said he could not live without books," says Martz. "I cannot live without painting."

Martz's work can be found every month at Gallery Underground, as well as in various shows mounted by the Arts Club of Washington, the Art League of Alexandria, and the McLean Art Society. 

--Sandi Parker, Gallery Underground Co-Director

Friday, July 15, 2016

Third in a Series on the Solo Show: THE WHEN (Because Timing Really Is Everything)

By Sandi Parker

Many of us have done it, most of us have considered it, some of us have just dreamt about it: mounting a solo show. This is the third in a series of posts about the nuts, bolts, dos, don'ts, lessons learned, opportunities missed, psychological trauma and euphoria of mounting a solo show; the why, where, when, what, who and how.


Timing does matter - to both lower your stress level and prevent a last-minute "Ack! I'm not ready! I need more time to complete my works/do publicity/plan my reception...." freakout,  AND to maximize traffic to both your show, and the all-important reception, where much of your sales is likely to occur. With some (prestigious/competitive) venues, you may not have a choice as to the month of your show, but you should be able to control the year at least.  It is vitally important that you allow yourself time to get all your works complete before your show, so you'll want to research your venue's policies and deadlines to be sure you have enough time. Even if you think you have a body of work ready to go before you even get accepted for a solo show, you may find that you want fresher, and/or better, works, and you'll need planning time for the publicity and the reception (more on that in an upcoming post on "The How"). So, by all means, don't schedule your show 2 months after getting accepted!

Assuming you do have some control over what month to hold your solo show: taking a look at the calendar, there are some months that are better than others - both from a traffic standpoint, and a reception standpoint. Let's go month by month and look at the pros and cons:

January - Pros: no competition from other events; holidays are over so people are looking for things to do; NOT a time when people vacation. Cons: reception could probably NOT be at the beginning of the month (more on the reception timing, below) because of possible conflict with New Years; if you live in an area that gets a lot of snow, this could be a factor in people getting to your venue. Conclusion: Good

February - Pros: No competition from other events (Valentines Day is mid-month); a month when people are look for things to do; Cons: Possible weather issues if in snowy area. Conclusion: Good.

March - Pros: No competition from other events (St. Patricks Day is mid-month); a month when people are looking for things to do; threat of snowy weather has usually passed, Cons: None. Conclusion: Optimal.

April - Pros: No competition from other events; weather good; usually not too much going on. Cons: None. Conclusion: Optimal

May - Pros: weather good. Cons: Competition with graduations and weddings when people are out of town/already scheduled. Conclusion: Fair

June - Pros: weather good. Cons: Competition with graduations, weddings, and youth sports tourneys; weather is SO good that people prefer to be outside rather than inside. Conclusion: Fair

July - Pros: weather good; people not on vacation may be bored and looking for something to do. Cons: reception could probably NOT be at the beginning of the month because of possible conflict with July 4th; people are on vacation. Conclusion: Fair

August - Pros: weather good; no competition with holidays; people in town may be bored and looking for something to do, depending on where you live, it could be so hot that people want to be inside in air conditioning. Cons: Biggest vacation month of the year. Conclusion: Fair

September - Pros: weather good; people back from vacation and looking for things to attend. Cons: big wedding month;  reception could probably NOT be at the beginning of the month because of possible conflict with Labor Day. Conclusion: Good

October - Pros: weather good, but starting to get chilly so people like to be inside; no competition with other events (Halloween at the end of the month); Cons: None. Conclusion: Optimal

November - Pros: weather getting chilly so people like to be inside, but not a huge snow threat (depending on where you live); sometimes people do holiday shopping in November. Cons:  People usually take 4 days for Thanksgiving which would cut down on your traffic. Conclusion: Good

December - Pros:  Possible holiday shopping; Cons: weather can be bad; lots of competition from holiday parties; people generally take  a week off at the end of the month which would cut down on traffic. Conclusion: Fair.

One more note about the timing of your show/reception. Ideally, you want your show to run from the beginning of the month to the end. Psychologically, it is easier to for people to remember that they can see your show during the month of May than trying to remember "May 14 - June 9."  or "April 28 - May 30." Even if you hang your show on April 28, you should put the dates of your show as May 1-31. It's cleaner and again, easier to remember. Your reception should be scheduled as close to your opening is possible, hence the word "opening" - it doesn't generate as much buzz and excitement to attend a reception when the show has been open for 2 weeks. And keep the reception short. If it goes on for 4 hours, no matter when people arrive, it may look as though there are only a few people attending when they are coming and going. 2 hours is a good amount of time - that way you will get a critical mass an hour into it - and a crowd is always a good thing - it creates the impression that people are at a "must see" event!

For more information about having a solo show at Gallery Underground, please visit our website:

Next in the series: "The What" - Developing your Theme.

Sandi Parker is an artist who works in both traditional oils and abstract acrylics. She is the Co-Director of Gallery Underground and has mounted 3 successful solo shows: in 2007, 2010 and 2016.