We're going to have an art show. (These images above and below are from a show last spring in our local library.) Right now it's vacation week and I'm thinking about it, hoping it goes well. I want to tell you about what we have planned, but I also want your thoughts/opinions/input. So I hope you will bear with reading a long post, to my questions near the end. *
Let me start by going backwards and explaining some history. Our school district used to be in 3 buildings, in 3 tiny towns, and every spring we had a big K-12 art show in either the middle or high school. Our display flats were nailed together hunks of plywood, dangerously unstable and difficult to hang on. We would spend a whole day hanging the show, invite parents to come that evening, and then spend a couple of hours afterward to take it back down. If we didn't get a good turnout, it was heartbreaking, after all the time spent. It especially drove me crazy to have students (who's parents didn't bring them back in the evening) ask the next day "How was the art show?" *
Anyhow - eleven years ago, we moved our whole school district into one brand-new building, housing pre-K through grade 12. During the move, the dangerous display flats were discarded, and we believed that new display flats would be built or purchased. But it never happened. So, over the years, I've consistently displayed on bulletin boards in the halls, changing displays regularly. I've also displayed annually in the local library, and one year I had an elementary show with a company that brings in displays and provides frames for all the work (I won't do that again. But there's never again been a district-wide show (our whole district is about 600 kids). Over the years, the secondary art teacher and I often discussed holding a show together, but without a good way to display, and with very different styles and teaching philosophies, and with schedules with no common unscheduled time, nothing ever came together. *
But this year, we had a change of art teachers. If you've read my blog since the summer, you would remember that we hired a new secondary art teacher when the former teacher moved away. And from the moment she was hired, we agreed we wanted to hold a show. A technology teacher and his students are building us display flats, with a composition board surface that will enable us to staple on it easily, so we're pretty excited. *
I didn't like the idea of spending so much time assembling a show and not having everyone see it, so I came up with an idea. On Tuesday, May 17th, there's a statewide school budget vote day. Our local teachers union does a big basket raffle for a scholarship fund, and there's a high school concert that night. We decided to have the art show that day as well, closing the doors before 7pm when the concert begins. So we decided to set up the show (in 1/2 the gym) on Monday the 16th, and leave the doors open for community members to take a look when they come to vote. Then we'll have an "artists' reception" from 4:30-6:30pm. The other part of my idea is to leave the show hanging for 2 more days, so that classroom teachers can take their students through the show (mini- 'field trips'), maybe even using the artwork for writing prompts! Then we can take the show down Thursday after school. Hopefully the weather will be OK, because we're counting on gym classes being able to meet outside that week. On the day of the show, the kindergarten teachers, unbeknown to us, had also scheduled an event for the gym. Luckily, we had cleared our event with the district office (they hadn't), because there was a potential for it to be a big foul-up. So they'll use 1 side of the gym, we'll be in the other (there's a heavy curtain divider). I don't think the phys. ed. teachers are too thrilled about the art show, but luckily the superintendent is very pro-arts. *
So I'm curious about a number of things about your art shows:
- Do you have an annual show?
- Where is the display held? Can it/is it left up or is it just on display for one evening? If you do leave it up, for how long is it on display?
- Do you have conflicts over the space used?
- Are you given release time to hang the show? To take it down?
- What surface do you hang on? Display flats of some sort? Walls?
- What do you use to hang the work? Staples? Tape? Sticky-tack? (Nothing stays on our walls with tape or sticky tack. It's a royal pain.)
- Do you mount/mat/name tag all the work yourself? On your own time?
- Do you get a good turn-out at the show?
- Do you serve refreshments? (Our PTSA is helping with this.)
- Do you have art-related activities or other events at the same time?
- Do you try to display the work of every elementary student?
- Some of you have indicated that your students "enter" the show. I keep explaining to the kids who ask if they will be the winner "It's not a contest, it's a display. There's no prizes." Is your show juried in any way? Prizes? Ribbons?
- What do you do for advance PR? Send notices home? Contact local newspaper? Other ideas?
- Anything else you'd like to share about your show(s)?