For APG's second Gallery Relations workshop, Erin Fender spoke with Atlanta gallerists Arnika Dawkins and Tony Casadonte to address what participants can expect to learn about approaching galleries, and helpful tips for preparing for the portfolio review sessions.
Why did you want to teach this workshop?
Tony: We want photographers to have a better feel for what a gallery is looking for and what to expect. Understanding the gallery environment is useful for photographers. What we’re doing [in this discussion] is using real world examples. We are here to be a resource and get artists thinking. We are here to offer advice as needed.
Arnika: The gallery is an interesting conundrum. As Tony and I are both artists, it is another way we express ourselves as artists. Each gallery has its own best practices that artists should be aware of. The gallery is an ever evolving continuum, makers are always trying to navigate.
What are some of the topics you will be covering in the discussion portion?
Arnika: We are creating a space for organic discussion and for artists to reflect on the gallery world, and the fine art world. It’s a safe space to ask the questions they have always wanted to know about. We are open to talking about the fine art world in general as well as our own galleries.
Tony: We also want to talk about the ever evolving world of the gallery. As photography propels forward at an ever increasing rate so is the role of the gallery. The rule book is constantly being thrown out the window!
What would you say to artists who want their portfolio reviewed, and think, “Arnika Dawkins Gallery historically has represented and shown African-American artists, or Lumiere primarily shows straight or documentary photography,” and I don’t fit either of those categories?
Tony: As unique as every artist is, with their own art and personality, so are galleries. You get a variety of artists who reach out to Lumiere, but artists should know they need to find the right fit and right person to view their work. It’s a process.
How can participant’s best prepare for their review sessions? And what can they expect from them?
Tony: I suggest artists bring a refined body of work for review. You also need to project or pitch the best images of that body of work. The portfolio review is about looking and assessing. So the structure of this class is to help photographers gain insight into their own work, and what might be a good fit for their work- so it is not a waste of their time.
Arnika: If they are interested in having work reviewed, know that editing is a very challenging and very important thing. They should also have some preparation, intentional goals that they want to accomplish. Some people may be ready to exhibit, some just began photographing and have not developed bodies of work. We want to meet people where they are, but need to know that they have clear goals in mind.