How My First Gallery Show Ignited a Lifelong Commitment to Art
I am about four years into my career as an artist, and so far, I have not been represented by a gallery. I have been selling my paintings to dealers who then resell them to designers, commercial art consultants, frame shops, and high-end furniture stores.
Like every other artist, I have aspirations and dreams of selling my work in galleries, with my name displayed prominently in big black letters on a pristinely white wall. I envision myself dressed in a sleek black dress, hair and makeup, engaging with people who are fascinated by my work, and paintings flying off the walls.
We have been selling our paintings to a designer showroom gallery in Scottsdale, Arizona, for a few months. Our work has been selling well there, and they offer us the opportunity to have a show, complete with an opening reception, where we will occupy most of the wall space. They invite their top designers and numerous collectors who own a second or third home in Scottsdale. This is our first show in a gallery setting since we began selling our work full-time.
The Night My Paintings Flew Off the Gallery Walls
I remember what I wore to this day. It was a cobalt blue dress with an ochre paisley pattern, featuring an A-line silhouette and boho butterfly sleeves. I created a beaded necklace with my grandmother’s amber, and for the first time in a long while, I slipped on a pair of heels.
I eagerly invited all of my friends, but I was feeling nervous. Would I know how to engage with people? Would I come across as an imposter, pretending to be a professional artist? Would anyone even show up? What if none of our artwork sells, and this designer gallery decides to dump us?
We arrive at the show and the two owners of the gallery greet us with big smiles. They are proud to present the new arrangement and display of the artwork on the walls, featuring John and me as the prominent artists. It was amazing to see everything we created over the last few months framed and meticulously hung under warm spotlights. I felt like I was living in a dream.
Creating Connections with Art Collectors
I start to see some of my friends coming over to congratulate us and admire all the artwork. I also notice unfamiliar faces arriving, grabbing a glass of wine, and beginning to explore the exhibition. Before long, the gallery is full, and the salesmen and owners are engrossed in conversations with each client.
I talk nonstop with one person after another. I’m too occupied to give in to my shyness and apprehension. Talking about my work and my life feels effortless, and I find myself asking questions about their lives. I create connections with almost everyone I talk to, and I begin to feel like my true self as all my insecurities melt away.
I'm distracted momentarily as I watch someone carrying out one of our huge paintings, carefully wrapped in bubble wrap and Styrofoam. I glance at the counter and notice the sales representatives busily wrapping more paintings and exchanging credit cards for sale slips. I notice multiple blank spots on the walls where our work used to hang.
I search for John to see where he is and what he is experiencing. We lock eyes from across the gallery, and we smile, saying, "Can you believe this? Our work is selling right off the walls!" I feel elated as if I'm floating in a cloud of pure bliss.
Celebrating My Artistic Achievements and Blessings
The glorious night flies by, and in what feels like mere minutes, the crowd starts to thin out. I look around and notice that most of the work has sold, and the walls are nearly bare. I try to play it cool, resisting the urge to jump for joy and hug everyone in the room.
It feels like everything I have ever wanted has been achieved in one night. All the doubts I ever had about myself or my career as an artist have completely disappeared. I'm grateful beyond words and want to savor this moment for as long as I live.
How Success Fueled My Creative Commitment
Now, 24 years later, I realize how blessed I was to experience such success in my first gallery show. Not every gallery show since then has been like this. I have had some shows where I didn't sell a single painting. I've experienced extreme failure and extreme success and everything in between. But that night marked my soul with an indelible promise of how good an artist's life can be.
How profound and deep is the validation that what you create with your own hands, heart, and imagination is desired by others. The worth I felt from knowing that my creations are valued by others instilled within me an unwavering commitment to my art.
A Divine Touch of Destiny
I now realize that the same Divine hand that moves my hand behind the brush designed, calculated, and orchestrated this first gallery show for me. He brought the people and moved their hearts to buy. He blessed us with a magnificently successful night so that I could withstand the flops and failures of the future. He touched my heart with a glimpse of what is possible, enabling me to transcend the walls of my doubts and insecurities. I feel so loved and cared for by the one who has authored my destiny.