by Rukhsar Jaffer
Guelph painter Laurie Skantzos recently exhibited in New York City at an artist coop called The Painting Center. She belongs to a collective called 5 Star Collective, and was joined by three others who also exhibited in NYC at The Painting Center in Chelsea. The show, called “Exhibit Eh” ran from April 26 to May 21, 2016.
Skantzos, an artist member of Guelph Arts Council (GAC) shared her NYC exhibiting experience, discussing several of the challenges and joys of taking art on the road.
Her journey started with the preparations for the show. “It was a fair amount of work to prepare for the show. The painting is the most important (and fun) part,” she said.
David Brown, a friend of Skantzos’ assisted her with the work it takes to physically travel with the work, and any added tasks. “Lucky for me, my friend David Brown handled all of the parperwork, customs, insurance, brokerage, etc” she explained.
After considering various delivery and installation services, Skantzos and colleagues came to the conclusion that, in their case, delivering and hanging the show themselves would be easier. In addition, in terms of finances she mentioned “it was cheaper to rent a van and do it ourselves.” Furthermore, from her own experience, Skantzos recommends using a customs broker when driving work across the border to help with all the paperwork needed. According to her, “there is a lot (at least it seemed so…).” Based on her understanding, a broker can help with some of the papers needed. She shares examples such as, “customs manifest, proforma invoice, artist’s declaration, NAFTA certificate, import/export number, consignee with a US social security number, PAPS number (trucking shipment number).”
One of the three pieces selected for the show was her largest piece to date, measuring at 48” by 80”. Although the show was accompanied by the pressures of exhibiting in NYC for the first time, Skantzos describes the experience as positive. “It was very positive for me to go through some struggles with each painting and come to a finished piece that I was happy with,” she explains.
When asked about burn out, Skantzos countered, “Burn out before the show wasn’t an issue at all. There is so much focus and excitement about getting ready – plus having a great team of artists to share and lighten the individual load – that it was actually energizing.”
One of Skantzos’ jobs included marketing the show. She contacted numerous New York publications. “I found many on the internet, as well as the popular Village Voice, New York times, etc” she recalled. “It’s not always obvious [who to contact] on the website” she cautions. She also remarks that, “some people hire a publicist to do this, which can be pricey. But they have good connections and it seems that there is a bit of a buddy system regarding media so it might be worth the cost.” She continued by mentioning, “Of course we all used our social media and email lists to promote the show as well. Business cards are great too!”
Skantzos mentioned the overall experience as a “treat”. “I was there with my love and we travel very well together, so all in all it was a fabulous treat,” she said. The opening reception held on April 28, 2016 was one of the highlights of her trip. “It feels amazing to see the work up on the gallery walls after being so up close and personal with it over months of prep,” she describes. “I felt like I could see it more objectively, plus chatting with visitors about the paintings allowed me to view it from their perspective, which was enlightening,” she added.
Some of Skantzos’ other work will be exhibited and available for sale at Art on the Street in Guelph on July 16th, 2016. Pop by to say hello and see her work alongside the many other artists of Guelph and the surrounding area. Skantzos is also known to teach from time to time at the Guelph School of Art. More information about the artist as well as her upcoming shows and classes can be found on her website at laurieskantzos.com