Welcome to the Art Dog Gallery Walk. We’ve embarked on a virtual route (a bit longer than the usual weekend art walk, about 8,757 miles total). We’ve charted a course to explore the gallery spaces of various members within the MacPherson’s community.
There are so many ways art supply retailers can engage with their local art scenes. Curating an artistic space and exhibiting artwork is a wonderful way to support local talent and create a welcoming space for people to engage with art, all the while showing off what your product can do. If you are already exhibiting artwork, great. Share your story with us! And if you are considering it (or even if you are not), join us and discover how members of our industry community are making it work for them. There is no silver bullet in this collection: every gallery is unique to the store, the community and the art scene. Our Gallery Walk includes makeshift pop-ups, instructor shows, fundraisers, annual traditions and an established commercial gallery or two.
First stop on our tour of retailer galleries? Carter Sexton Artist’s Materials. Carter Sexton, located in North Hollywood, LA, has been a family owned business since its opening in 1944. In addition to selling art supplies, the retail space doubles as a gallery, and with limited wall space they’ve had to get extra creative. Any wall space is fair game.
Monthly Shows, Monthly Logistics
Chris Hauser, who owns the shop with his wife Jenia, explains their system. “With monthly shows, we try to run it as efficiently and professionally as possible. A lot of scheduling goes into it. You need to pick the date of the show, then you figure the day the call for entries has to go out, what the last day to submit will be, what three consecutive days the artist can drop off their work, what three consecutive days they can pick their up work after it’s over. All those dates need to be presented at the beginning, plus scheduling employees to work late and buying food, drinks, supplies, etc. for the opening.”
Group Shows with Themes
Each monthly show has a broad theme to draw interest and help creative people narrow their focus a bit. “We usually favor group shows as the interest is higher. A recent show theme, “Scapes,” was a celebration of the world around us, featuring paintings of the land, sea, sky, and urban skylines.”
“We’ve done Figure, Black and White, Caricature, Seasons, etc. It is always so interesting to see how people will interpret it! Strictly speaking, to us, the theme is advertising. We try to angle it to include as many people as possible.”
The way you select artwork for an exhibit depends on the kind of gallery space you are curating. Do you want to focus on a specific medium, topic or technique? Do you want to make space for emerging artists to shine or are you interested in connecting your customers to the work of already established artists? “We air on the side of inclusivity,” Chris explains. “It has to fit the theme somehow, and nothing over PG13. I mean we did have a figure show with tasteful pieces.”
Installation & Artist Fees
Once you’ve decided on timing, themes, decided between group or solo and you’ve sorted through submissions, the next step is installation and, if you would like to have one, an art opening. Some stores hang the work for artists, while others require that artists handle their own work (and put on their own reception, if it is a group). Chris and his team hang the artwork, especially since the process can be a bit precarious and deciding on placement is a creative venture of its own, what with limited wall space. Artist fees, if you choose to have them, can help cover the cost of additional time spent installing as well as the opening. “I charge $15 per piece to cover our costs, and we put that money towards the food and the advertising,” Chris says. “We also have a size restriction, because we can’t take a ton of huge stuff. We will take sculpture and photography.”
Hosting an art opening is a great opportunity to connect with your community and get new faces in the door! “We have an opening reception and stay open later than usual, turn the airbrush department into a bar and serve wine, cheese and crackers.” Owner Jenia Hauser thoughtfully chooses food in line with the theme of the show, hence the dog food bowls in the image above.
From left to right, Owner Jenia Hauser, Manager Niki Lambro, and Assistant Manager Kyla , dressed as waiters for the “Edible” show. On the right, customers in costume enjoying themselves at the Halloween Show, a show that sees the highest submissions and most attended show of the year. People are encouraged to come in costume and often do. It is always a very enjoyable time for staff and attendees!
Key Benefits of Carter Sexton’s Gallery
Exposure, and new customers. “The shows bring new people into the door who then become customers. Every show I hear someone say, ‘I’ve never been here before, this is so awesome!’ That means everything to me.”
A connection to the local art scene. Artwork from local artists, nationally renowned and emerging; kids, regular customers and folks from out of town. “The local art club wants to have a group show, I tried to give it for free but they insisted on paying, they bring everything, we hang the artwork. It was a great time.”
Thinking of Starting a Gallery at Your Store?
Cross-pollinate! Share ideas! Let us know and we’ll connect you with Chris, who has generously offered to share his expertise with others. “If any other stores wanted input before undertaking a gallery, I am totally open to being contacted. I am passionate about both keeping brick and mortar art supply stores in business, and exposing artwork to the broadest audience possible.”
Thank you Chris for connecting with your creative community and showing up for your local art scene!
Next Stop: Albany, NY
And so we pack our bags for a cross-country trek, leaving the blue skies, rustling palm trees and bustling activity of North Hollywood en route to an independent art supply retailer nestled in upstate New York, where the buds have popped and spring is in the air…