May 09, 2007

The New Orleans Years...

1992, "Knot In Transition" 1st Place, 23rd LWS International Exhibition

1986-2001: An offer we couldn't refuse had us on the move again, this time without the two older kids but with a tenth grader in tow... plus our two mothers. Would have been fun to live in New Orleans proper, but because of school needs and accommodations for the g-moms, we settled upriver about 30 min from downtown NOLA. St. Charles Parish, if you know the area.

Once all were settled in, I located a small art group in the area and hoped for the best. It served me well in one respect, I met an artist neighbor who was also trying to get her career going. We joined forces, joined the Louisiana Watercolor Society, which not only held juried member shows through the year but hosted an annual International competition which drew the really big names in w/c. We volunteered at all levels, and eventually held several positions on the board.

This began another priceless learning experience. There are many similar organizations all around the country and I entered as often as I had work available... and since I didn't have much in the way of demanding gallery representation, I created works especially for these shows. That meant stretching everything I knew about the process, figuring out what made award winning paintings, accompanying the judge (as part of my elective duties) and paying close attention to every aspect including how to ship paintings. As I began to actually win awards with my w/c's I'd raise the bar and enter some of the more elite shows. National Watercolor Society and American Watercolor Society were considered the top tier and I managed to have work selected in both and even earned an award plus signature membership in the NWS. However, that was the beginning of the end and I was tiring of competition, wanting to move on.

2000 Installation, New Orleans

New Orleans has loads of galleries... and I'm not talking about the touristy French Quarter variety, but over on Julia Street, plus uptown on Magazine Street, the real art is found. An artist friend had a friend who was opening a new one (same song, different verse) on Julia Street and said I should take a few works over for her to see. I did, and that became an eleven year relationship. I had two solo shows in that space, then she moved to Magazine Street and I had a solo show there. She shouldn't have moved! Expenses got the better of her... and long story short, I left the gallery just before she had to close the doors for good.

A real shame because she had a knack for understanding art and artists and had no problem with my need to search and grow. I wasn't one of her premier artists in the beginning, so having a distinct style was one she was willing to wait for. I morphed through a number of different looks, eventually leaving watercolor and realism behind entirely and developing a firm base to work from. On hearing that an Atlanta gallery was looking for a new abstract artist, she suggested that I send them some slides... I did and that's also become a long time relationship.

At this point, we're on the move again after fifteen years in metro NOLA. All kids are now settled with families, but daughter, a single mom with one adopted child, has decided to adopt a second. So we figure that's where we are needed most. Before leaving, I make arrangements with the well established Carol Robinson Gallery on Magazine. She already knew my work and understood the situation. She's got it all under control, knows what she's doing and I'm a happy camper.

Of note... I gave up both serigraphy and festivals when I moved to NOLA. More about that here.

Next: Back to Dixie...


Tracy said...

I am really enjoying this history of yours, Karen. I am incredibly nosy about how artists get going and how they segue to the next level.

You have such a variety of experiences and I am impressed.

KJ said...

I'm nosy as well, love to compare notes. It's all such a crap shoot. Some ask how to do it, and so much depends on chance. Glad you're enjoying, it's fun to reconstruct.