Yesterday I meandered through the offices of Artomatic, and walked away exhausted. There is too much to take in at one time. And, by too much, I mean there is a lot of crap. For all intended purposes, I'll count my stuff amongst that kitty. I count a lot of colleagues and friends among the kitty of crap, and they have great work.
When it comes down to it, part of what can make Artomatic successful is presentation. But, in a building that is being rehabilitated, it's going to be difficult. Things that should be considered are the following.
Spend money on a couple of gallons of paint:
The walls are most likely going to be beat up. Get some real Spackle (maybe invest in 20 minute... but not that chintzy stuff that's like cake frosting) and some tape. Sand and paint. Sand and paint again. Even those that did a lousy job still managed to make a warmer environment. In some cases, the wall painting was better than the art ON the wall.
Less is more:
Curate your room. Don't throw in the kitchen sink. Unless the kitchen sink is your piece.
Of course, it is impossible to escape that this Artomatic is in an old government office building that is built like an oppressive maze. Since it is an old office building, the ubiquitous florescent lighting is everywhere, and for many pieces it isn't helping.
But I think what took away from the work the most was the carpet. There was this peripheral thing that kept irritating me in many of the rooms while looking at work that was decent and it was this drab carpet that was bugging me. There were a couple of exhibitors that tried their best by putting in Afghan rugs. No matter how much lipstick you put on a pig it is still a pig. Which is to say, that if that was your studio it didn't help - nor did the waterfalls, inspirational music or incense.
Artomatic is a necessary evil. What other opportunity is there for a whole bunch of artists to buy a space and show off or possibly sell their goods? It gives exposure for some of the hopeful, and a chance to have some fun for others. Maybe it is an opportunity to even be taken seriously.
The organization needs a little tweaking. Specifically, there are three realms that would seem appropriate for people when applying for a space.
1) The Sunday Painters: This is for those who spend about a couple of hours a week moving paint around a canvas to make pretty objects. These are the people who paint from photographs of their friends and postcards of landscapes.
2) Gallery Hopefulls: Those recent MFA grads and dedicated artists who just want a nod from any of the dozens of galleries in and around the area to maybe get in a group show or have a solo in the next year or two.
3) Lab Rats: Those who want to treat Artomatic as a laboratory for trying or displaying conceptual practices involved with or related to the plastic and performing arts. A chance to try something different. A chance to see who the Bob Irwin, Bruce Nauman, Lorna Simpson, or Judy Pfaff of DC is.