I’m going to keep this post anonymous and simply mention that I visited a good friend yesterday in Beacon, NY, a scenic spot where the fabulous DIA Museum is the main jewel. Our purpose was to spend time together and take in some art. After a nourishing catch-up lunch, we visited a gallery in town, by appointment, and admired the inspiring display before engaging in a conversation with the owner who had driven there specially to open her doors for us. As she was showing us additional work by the exhibiting artist that was kept in an archival box, a woman walking by entered the space. Picture the proprietor, now wearing special white gloves to handle the precious pieces, my friend and myself huddled over a series of painted photographs. “Are you the owner?” the visitor inquired. “Yes,” our hostess replied. “I’d like to know how you view new artists work,” she continued. “I’m not considering any new artists. I exhibit the ones I’ve been working with on a regular basis and do not have room on my roster.” Ms. Outsider persisted through another round or two of requests, and then exited looking part-crestfallen and part-annoyed. I had the rare privilege of hearing from the one being sought what rules this woman had broken.
- The aspirant basically barged into a conversation in progress.
- She didn’t ask if she was interrupting, but got on with her own agenda.
- She was not particularly cordial, nor appreciative of her potential benefactor’s status, current pursuit or taste.
- While this is totally judgmental (I wasn’t the one to name it, so I’m only reporting what was said even though I completely agreed…) she didn’t look the part – like someone as conservatively dressed as she was would produce anything that would fit the nature of this particular venue.
- She had only her own agenda in mind, not what she might contribute to the gallery owner’s. I.e. She had not done any research about the place.
Why this was so interesting to me is that I’m 99% done with my first draft and am beginning to enter the pitching/querying process–looking for an agent or publisher for my memoir/manuscript. Everything I noted about this woman wanting to exhibit in the gallery I visited was good information and similar to what my writing coach advised in our most recent conversation. “It’s a lot like dating, Jane,” she told me. “Your agent is out there, and it’s your job to find the right match, who is looking for what you’re offering. It’s not personal. If they want an adventure story that appeals to millennials, your Baby Boomer tale of divorce and dating ain’t gonna cut it.” I want to be sure that before I walk into the literary ‘gallery’ of my choice, that I’ve done my homework, know that the person I want to see also wants to see me, and that I’m not interrupting her in the process. What a great opportunity for me to see in real time what it looks like to be solicited by the wrong person at the wrong time. I’m sure the woman was a dear, and that if she’d known the etiquette of properly finding representation at a gallery, she could have saved herself the embarrassment and disappointment she encountered in Beacon yesterday.