How to Make the Most out of a Gallery Opening
With Bluethumb’s Melbourne Gallery launch just around the corner, our minds are turning more and more to opening night. Exhibitions offer the opportunity for art lovers to find and connect with meaningful art and the people who make it, and after all, that’s exactly why we’re in the biz. We’ve put together a few tips for anyone looking to enhance their gallery experience and make the most of attending an exhibition or gallery opening. Even if for some crazy reason you can’t make it to opening night of Bluethumb’s Melbourne Gallery, the ideas to follow may well come in handy for events down the track.
1. Study up beforehand
Don’t worry – there won’t be a test, but it doesn’t hurt to prepare a little in advance! Spending ten minutes to learn about why the exhibition is on and what you might like to know more about can help you ask the right questions once you’re there, or give you a foothold to begin thinking about some of the pieces.
It also helps to have a bit of a vocabulary relating to art; you don’t need to know words like “chiaroscuro” (for the record, it’s when there is a stark contrast between shadow and light that lends the image drama), but a general idea about basic artsy terms such as perspective and placement will stand you in good stead!
2. Don’t be afraid to ask questions
It might sound obvious, but the great thing about gallery openings is that there are plenty of people around who want to talk about art. If you’re nervous about appearing unsure, you can always voice your questions like a statement. For example, “I wonder how this artist finds more inspiration for her work”, or “I find it difficult to connect emotionally with this work, but perhaps there’s something I’m missing”. Questions like these are great, because they open up the conversation with the stranger standing next to you, but they also sound like you kind of know your stuff. Remember, no matter how much you know about art, everyone brings something different to the table, and we should never stop learning, especially from each other!
3. Take the opportunity to meet the artists or those behind the exhibition
If the artist can make it to the exhibition opening, then attending can be a wonderful opportunity to get to know them and open a face to face dialogue about their work, motivations and influences. Don’t be shy – they will most likely be thrilled to meet someone who has taken notice of their work and want to discuss it further (just don’t be offended if they have to move on, they will probably be having a busy night!). There might also be other people involved in the exhibition who are worth talking to – the owner of the gallery, for example, or the people responsible for putting it together. Whether you’re an artist or a collector, this can be a great way of networking and meeting artists whose work resonates with you.
4. Give yourself time to consider the work
It’s probably not ideal if you have five minutes to down a glass of champagne, speed-walk past all the paintings and then rush out the door, but if your time is limited (after all, you’ve got to schedule in some time to meet the artists, right?) then remember that you can always come back if you don’t get around everything – try having a general peruse over the collection, and coming back to the one or two that really strike you. How do they make you feel? What is it about them that makes them so striking? For some people, it might even help to take down notes so that you can think about them later on. After all, the great thing about Bluethumb exhibitions is that all of the works are listed on the website. Check out the curation with all the artworks you can expect to see in our gallery launch here!
5. Enjoy the occasion!
Finally, enjoy! Among other things, exhibition openings are meant to be a celebration, so make sure to show yourself a good time. Between the complimentary refreshments, new discoveries and raucous socialising, good times await for everyone, so forget about fitting in or appearing knowledgable, relax and have fun!