09 October 2008

Great Gallery (Cullom), Great City (Seattle)

photo by Beth Cullom

The photo above is a view of Cullom Gallery where my first solo show is currently hanging. I spent 5 days in Seattle last week to attend a First Thursday Art Walk reception at the gallery as well as give an artist's talk on the following Saturday. All of it was surprisingly enjoyable.

I say "surprisingly" because I really wasn't sure how I would like it. I'm mostly an introvert and can be socially awkward (can't we all?), so I wasn't sure if I'd be able to relax enough to interact well with gallery visitors. Luckily, though, when I'm really enthused about something -- like moku hanga, say -- I can get past my shyness, so I had a great time talking with the people I met.

Aside from a couple of group shows, my gallery experience has been very limited, so I was keen to meet owner Beth Cullom and talk with her about the work she does. It quickly became clear to me that Beth's knowledge of Japanese printmaking runs broad and deep and her contacts in the art world are extensive. I was impressed with her attention to detail, her ability to interact with all sorts of people, her knowledge, and her professionalism. Best of all, she's also a really nice person.

In my 20+ years as an illustrator I've never had a rep. I've been very hands-on with my own commercial art business, doing everything from accounting to marketing to web site creation myself. I've been doing many of those same tasks with my woodblock work, too, but fine art is a market that I know much less about, so I'm delighted to find the support of a gallery. The show has been selling very well, and that isn't something I could have accomplished on my own. I've heard artists complain about the "gallery system" and probably there are things to complain about, but at least for this show the "system" feels like a mutually respectful partnership that benefits both me and the gallery.

As for the great city of Seattle, my partner Lynn came with me on the trip, which made it a real vacation. When we weren't at the gallery, we spent hours exploring the city -- museums, galleries, restaurants. Oddly enough, one of our favorite places was the Seattle Public Library! In this energy-efficient 10-story building designed by Dutch architect Rem Koolhaas, Levels 6 to 9 are configured as a "Book Spiral." These four floors of book stacks are connected by gentle ramps where one can quite literally walk through the Dewey Decimal System. Lynn and I felt like we were strolling through the sum total of all human knowledge! Combined with the fact that libraries are one of the last great American public spaces, democracy at its best, the experience was quite moving.

We had a wonderful time in Seattle. Check out my ferry-boat smile:



Viza Arlington said...

i'm so happy for you! I love your work. i will have to visit the gallery next time i am in seattle.

Annie B said...

Thanks Viza! If you go to the gallery tell Beth that you know me from the Baren Forum.

d. moll, l.ac. said...

Congrats on a fine show and sales too! you look like you are having a good time :~)

Sue said...

Well done with the show; how exciting!
Funnily, hubby and were musing a few evenings ago about 'If we went to the States again, where would we like to go?' and Seattle was up there with the best! I think we've been watching too many 'Frazier' repeats!

Adam said...

Hi Annie!
Congratulations on the opening! I love your work and you blog. I am also starting to explore woodblock printing (after many years working only in intaglio) and, inspired by you, am going to try to blog my progress. Thank you so much and keep up the great work!

ainesse said...

Well done Annie and it looks like you have found an excellent professional gallerist to support you in getting your beautiful work out there !!

I am really pleased for you.



Annie B said...

Thanks for the congratulations! Yes, it was fun. Sue, Seattle is great. I hope if you come to the states, though, that you'll stop on the east coast too! Adam, nice to meet you. I see from your blog that you're living in China. I look forward to seeing your progress with woodblock printing. And Aine, thank you so much for your big-hearted good wishes. Much appreciated.

Ellen Shipley said...

Sounds like a great trip. I love that ferry pic of you!