Face Making

Artist Gwenn Seemel’s bilingual blog about art, portraiture, free culture, and feminism.

Dead, tired, or vital?

2012 . 02 . 16 - Comments / Commentaires (6)

Recently, I was talking with an artist friend about whether or not to show work that’s already been exhibited. To his mind, once art has been displayed, it’s dead. By the end of our conversation, I’d talked him into replacing “dead” with “tired” but he held fast to the idea: work that’s been seen publicly is old news, publicly speaking.

For my part, I’m of two minds about this.

On the one hand, I’ve seen the same few works trotted out by certain emerging artists around Portland time and again. I may know the names of these artists and recognize their work, but that doesn’t mean I find it interesting after so many viewings. If anything, I’m fascinated by what I perceive as their inability to make new work.

On the other hand, I can’t help but feel that the art I’m showing should be good enough—layered enough, both aesthetically and conceptually—that it can stand up to repeated display.

remake of American Gothic

Gwenn Seemel
Amazigh Gothic (Algerian-American)
acrylic on panel
25 x 30 inches
(For more information about the making of this painting, visit this article.)

I guess I’m thinking a lot about this right now because I’m showing a large portion of my Apple Pie series again. It premiered in Portland over three years ago now and I’ve showed it four time since then—once in Eugene and three more times in various venues in Portland. Next week, it opens in Monmouth.

Does that make this work dead, tired, or vital? Ultimately, I suppose that’s for the audience to say, but, in any case, this time the series is juxtaposed with allegorical portraits by another artist, Jessica Burke, giving it a new context. The show opens Wednesday at Western Oregon University!

Reception: Wednesday 22 February, 4:30 to 6:00 PM

Open: 22 February through 23 March
Hours: Monday through Friday, 8:00 AM to 5:00 PM

Dan and Gail Cannon Gallery of Art
inside Campbell Hall at Western Oregon University
345 N Monmouth Avenue
Monmouth OR 97361

- Art in a series / L’art en série
- Post-show depression and touring
- How to show your art

CATEGORIES: - English - Apple Pie - Business of art - Events -

Gwenn Seemel on Liberapay     Gwenn Seemel on Patreon

(6) Comments / Commentaires: Dead, tired, or vital?

-- Jeliza -- 2012 . 02 . 16 --

I could see limiting how many times work is exhibited in the same town in a short period of time, but Of Course work should get exhibited more than once. Why would you want to limit the audience of a piece to a random selection of, say, 100 people? I can’t think of a single master artist, or famous artist, who would show work only once, other than maybe site-specific performance art.

Plus, that would make the entire concept of art museums rather dodgy, wouldn’t it?

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-- Kelly in AK -- 2012 . 02 . 16 --

I think a work can get tired and over used but ‘dead’ is a little extreme.  The thought that a piece that doesn’t sell is suddenly useless after one show puts a huge burden on the artist to store or destroy it as well as to make another piece to keep up.

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-- M.K. Hajdin -- 2012 . 02 . 17 --

I agree with Kelly. 

I think your friend’s views are a bit extreme.  Most artists could not afford to show their work only once.

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-- Gwenn -- 2012 . 02 . 17 --

So true! 

And another aspect of this discussion is the difference between art in reproduction and art in person. Artists seem happy to expose their art in reproduction again and again, but more shy about showing it in person…and there’s something seriously wrong with that way of doing things.  If there’s nothing special about the experience of seeing your work in person, you’d better be a digital artist.  That’s the only valid reason!

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-- Michele -- 2012 . 03 . 01 --

I understand both points but I would ask then why people purchase art or frequent the same art exhibits? I aggree that limiting viewings in the same town makes sense-but I would offer your art to as many people as possible! Congrats and best of luck with the showings!

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-- Gwenn -- 2012 . 03 . 05 --

Thanks Michele!

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