Saturday, September 19, 2009

Waiting and Creating

One of the things that often surprises people about our work in the gallery is how similar it is to any other business. Since we also have the studio component, our business plan is different than most traditional galleries. Beyond simple retail sales we spend a huge amount of time pursuing contracts for large scale public and private commissions. In these efforts, we are like any other product-based business. We make phone calls, draft proposals, try to identify new venues and in the end spend a lot of time trying to pitch our work.

What makes it slightly different is that rather than just send off a proposal, Steven almost always creates a model for every perspective project. By the time we’ve discussed the possible design, researched the site and subject, and the model or maquette is finished we’ve become pretty attached to the whole concept. It’s not just the idea of winning the project for its financial benefits, although that’s certainly always there, it’s also the desire to be able to see the creation take shape and to have the vision become reality.

The fact that we make figurative work just adds to the bizarre sense of creation and stalled gestation. The studio is full of the scale models of possible monuments, 1/6 scale figures that never got to assume the heroic scale for which they were meant. Sometimes, we just break down the clay and use it to build something else. Other times we’ll hold on to it in the belief that we’ll find a home for the idea at some unknown point and place in the future. The end result is that we have a workspace full of homeless unfinished figures. If we weren’t so busy, it could be a little depressing.

Some of the figures are merely waiting, designs for contracts that are “just about to be” finalized. Here too we’re like any other business – waiting for the initial contact to take shape, judging if there’s enough interest, and enough funding. A series of exciting phone calls can have us celebrating for a week. But, even then, the reality of making massive bronze structures is that there are still site considerations, planning permission and frequently several civic or governmental organizations that have to be convinced. It’s a long, drawn-out and delay-prone process. Steven often says that the sculpting part is the easy part. It’s certainly less time consuming.

You constantly feel as though you’re on the precipice. This summer and fall we sit waiting for decisions on three projects that would fundamentally change everything. It’s an exciting time that is wonderfully ripe with possibility. But, there is always the waiting, the fear and the memories of past experiences that weigh equally between successes and ideas that just faded away.

At least now the projects we’re waiting for are much bigger than they used to be.

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