Absence Makes the Heart Grow Fonder, the title of my debut solo exhibition, had a great opening in Saint Andrews, New Brunswick. The show, which opened on July 5th, looks beautiful in the scenic Harbour View Gallery at Sunbury Shores Art and Nature Centre. In attendance were locals, artists, and tourists offering many positive reviews and curious questions. The entire experience was incredibly smooth and enjoyable.
It’s almost hard for me to comprehend that I actually made this series. It all started with a seed of an idea. I typically create quite colorful artwork, so I thought I would challenge myself to work in black and white as the first major project after going full-time as an artist. It was a wonderful surprise to find out that this project had been accepted for not only one, but TWO solo exhibitions in New Brunswick. Once I got over the glow of being accepted, I had to begin planning. I had been notified in January, which gave me about 5 months to complete the work. I had to create a timeline for all that was left to do. Believe it or not, there is a lot of work to do that isn’t painting! I worked backwards from the opening and set some deadlines for each month.
What I didn’t know at that time was that my husband and I would be buying a house (yay!) and moving in mid-June. It was a wonderful milestone in our marriage, but took over much of my time. I had to tighten my timeline so that all the artwork would be complete before June. In reality, it was actually a great complication because it forced me to stay focused and not put anything off.
I came to a point of completion on the series in early May. Then I did all my framing, photographing, wiring, varnishing, and pricing. I bubble wrapped so many artworks that I lost count. But I had done it! I finished my series a whole month early! After the move, I still had time to do the final steps such as designing the promotion materials and refining my artist statement.
The Opening Weekend
My guy and I made a long weekend out of it. We drove to Saint Andrews a day early so the work could be set up. I wasn’t sure how the paintings would be arranged beforehand, but once I was in the space, it came to me instinctively. The lovely ladies of Sunbury Shores were kind enough to include me in the whole hanging process. It was fun to be involved in all of the decision-making of installing an exhibition.
The day of the opening was so relaxing. I didn’t have any worries because everything had already been done. We were in a beach town, so of course we went to the beach and soaked up the sun (with copious amounts of SPF 50+). It was such a leisurely feeling, having nothing else to do but relax. After getting cleaned up and a bit fancy, we walked to the gallery in time for the early-evening opening.
I was so pleased with how it all turned out. In the front of the building, there was a 20 year retrospective of the work of Kathy Hooper. I did a bit of research and discovered that Kathy Hooper is also an immigrant to Canada, which I thought was wonderful kismet. My gallery space was at the back with a gorgeous view of the harbour.
I loved eavesdropping on visitors and hearing them discuss my work. I was a bit nervous, but that soon went away after I heard many positive comments. A lot of people were curious about my international background, and I enjoyed speaking with them about my personal history in foreign countries and how that has influenced my work.
I was surprisingly revitalized by all the positive comments. I think after months of creating a painting series, my artist eyes were tired of analyzing my own work. But for the visitors, it was their first time seeing my art and their comments reminded me that it is actually something special. Talking to these people helped me not take my own efforts for granted. I had achieved something important and I acknowledged it, which can be hard for some people (especially women) to do.
I enjoyed a celebratory dinner on the harbour after the opening, and the following two days were spent enjoying the Women’s World Cup, which I am an avid fan, and also attending the wedding of some friends before driving back to our home in Fredericton.
My Absence series is only halfway through it’s “Tour of New Brunswick” (that’s what I am cheekily calling it). At the end of July, I will be collecting it from Sunbury Shores and delivering it to the Charlotte Street Arts Centre here in Fredericton for it’s next debut. My next opening is August 1st in the Charlotte Glencross Gallery. That show will be up for two and a half months. Meanwhile, I will be doing an artist residency in August and will be a part of a group show in the Penny Gallery (also in the same art center). And of course, a painting commission is also on the agenda. Thank goodness for my day planner to keep me organized!
I am somewhat shocked that I have been able to attain these goals in less than one year of being a full-time artist. Day by day, it doesn’t feel as if I have achieved very much, but when I step back and look at the big picture, it’s a great feeling!
If you have read this far, thank you. You rock.
Many pictures of the exhibition below.