Hanging the Show

Probably one of the best culminating moments in the process of preparing for my solo art exhibition is the feeling of finally having all the art hanging on the walls for the first time.

But before that happens, this…

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Before we have to think about where to put the paintings in the gallery, I had to first transport them. One of the things that I discovered when I bought my first 40″x30″ canvas for this series is that this size fits perfectly square in the cargo area of my SUV. As it was a very windy day (a blizzard forecast to arrive the next day!), I was afraid of my paintings sailing away in the short jaunt between my studio door and my vehicle. We were able to safely put them in the car, very carefully, laying the paintings face-to-face and back-to-back. Fortunately, the gallery is very local to my studio, so I didn’t have far to transport them.

Once we arrived at the gallery, this…

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…a blank canvas of unhung gallery walls, lots of tools, and stray paintings on the floor, leaning agains the wall, each waiting for its turn to be called into the spotlight.

After unloading, the curator and I chatted first about what the narrative would be for the exhibition — what would the key anchor pieces be, and what is the visual and thematic relationship between each of the paintings. Before hanging the first nail in the wall, it is essential to map the outline for what the viewer experience will be upon entering and traveling through the gallery space. While the curator was absolutely amazing and asked first for my curatorial preferences, I insisted that his objective eye first take a look at what the relationships were that he saw between the paintings, whereas, I had been staring at these same paintings for month in my studio — I wanted a second opinion to start out this process.

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Then, we selected the anchor pieces for the few major viewpoints, and then we filled in the rest of the walls as the vision came into reality. Then we started hanging the paintings with precision.

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After we established our hanging height center line, with respect to the gallery’s chair rail and crown molding, we measured the height to the top of the painting, to the top of the hanging wire, and placed the nail mark, accounting for the measurement of left-to-right for the centering of the paintings within the allotted wall.

The importance of a level for both the horizontal and vertical leveling of the hung paintings can not be overstated. I was grateful for the meticulous attention to detail that the curator demonstrated; it gave me reassurance that my exhibition was in good hands.

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Eventually the blank walls and the mess of tools on tables yielded to a mess of tools on tables with beautiful accompanying artwork on walls. We were getting closer to having almost all the paintings hung.

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Once all the paintings were hung, we focused on the dilemma of the vinyl lettering for the title wall, where my name and the title of the exhibition will appear next to the featured painting that had been the main image for the exhibition postcard and online promotion of the exhibition.

We measured the space remaining on the wall after the painting was hung, and then debated which way we would have the letters laid out on the wall. Fortunately, I have a background in graphic design, including extensive use of Photoshop, Illustrator, and InDesign, so I quickly mocked up some options on my laptop, after snapping a quick photo of the wall so that we could see a “simulation” of what the wall would look like:

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After we discussed the final decision for the vinyl lettering, we hung the artist statement, about the artist and placed a binder for the price list. As part of this particular exhibition of “Abstracted Rainy Moments” I’m also including a glimpse into the process of creating the pieces, including descriptions of what was behind the making of each painting accompanied by some in-process photographs of each painting. We put these into a binder where people can view these. Additionally, I will install a demonstration piece, a canvas that shows the different stages of each rain painting in one canvas. After establishing some of these details, it was decided that we would need another day to return to the gallery to install these final details, including the demo pieces, the process wall, and to install the vinyl lettering on the title wall.

At the end of the day, we were pleased to have the experience of having all the paintings up on the wall. So of course, I went around the space and took many photographs for documenting installation shots of the show to be used on my website, in future exhibition proposals, and to help with promoting the show in social media and in my email newsletter.

Here’s one sneak peak installation shot that I can share now. If you’re in the Rhode Island area, the opening for this Abstracted Rainy Moments solo exhibition by me, Rachel Brask, will host the opening reception on Friday, April 7, 6-9pm at the Samaritans of Rhode Island Forget-Me-Not Gallery (67 Park Place, Pawtucket, RI). The exhibition itself will be up April 7 through June 30, 2017.

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