A few evenings ago, I attended “Calling All Artists!” at Northern District Library. The massive turnout filled a huge meeting room and had staff scrambling to add rows of chairs to accommodate all the Toronto artists eager to learn more about exhibiting their work at the Toronto Public Library.
Four speakers talked us through the application process. Karen Fleming, who is in charge of TPL’s Art Exhibits, went over the application form in detail. Greg Astill promoted the services of the popular Digital Design Studio at the Toronto Reference Library. Then we learned more about displaying our art to its best advantage from Carol Barbour, TPL Gallery and Exhibits Curator. Finally, Susan Cohen discussed the business and marketing aspects of the art profession. She generously gave us the benefit of her experience as Program Director for Cultural Careers Council Ontario.
I took away many helpful ideas from the information session, but two of them stand out the most.
First, Ms. Cohen emphasized the crucial importance of a clear and concise artist’s statement: “You need to know exactly what you are doing and why you are doing it.” If our marketing vision is not clear to ourselves, how can it be clear to our viewers and potential customers?
Second, Ms. Barbour advised us to demonstrate strong artistic commitment not only in the careful planning of exhibit details but also in researching the galleries and walls of the fourteen libraries to which we can apply. Our applications will be even stronger if we can make a case for why our work belongs in a particular space. To emphasize this point, one of the speakers said, “For example, large abstract works would not be appropriate for a small, intimate gallery like the one at Yorkville. They would be perfect for Northern District’s Skylight Gallery, though.”
As I was reflecting on the curator’s advice, it occurred to me that my library blog could really facilitate the research element of the application process. (For new readers to Breakfast in Scarborough, I have visited and written about all 99 branches). Although I don’t focus on all the galleries specifically, my posts about the fourteen branches in question offer glimpses into the unique atmosphere of each library-world. They can provide art applicants with a sense of which one might serve as the best home for their work.
Every single one of my posts has been a labour of love, and it’s my hope that the following links will help aspiring artists like myself envision a public platform for their work to be appreciated. The majority of the blog entries don’t contain photographs, but they all create word pictures of a truly wonderful library system:
Leaside Branch (This is a more recent post, so it contains photographs).
Oakwood Village Library and Arts Centre (This post has a few photographs).
Three cheers for art in the libraries!!!