About Me

My Photo
Spofford, New Hampshire, United States
Jeff Newcomer has been a physician practicing in New Hampshire and Vermont for over 30 years. Over that time, as a member of the Conservation Commission in his home of Chesterfield New Hampshire, he has used his photography to promote the protection and appreciation of the town's wild lands. In recent years he has been transitioning his focus from medicine to photography, writing and teaching. Jeff enjoys photographing throughout New England, but has concentrated on the Monadnock Region and southern Vermont and has had a long term artistic relationship with Mount Monadnock. He is a featured artist in a number of local galleries and his work is often seen in regional print, web publications and in business installations throughout the country. For years Jeff has published a calendar celebrating the beauty of The New England country-side in all seasons. All of the proceeds from his New England Reflections Calendar have gone to support the Pulmonary Rehabilitation Program at the Cheshire Medical Center. Jeff has a strong commitment to sharing his excitement about the special beauty of our region and publishes a weekly blog about photography in New England.

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Showing Off


Finding the Best Places to Exhibit Your Photographs
Brattleboro Vermont Works Bakery Cafe


I never miss an opportunity for self-promotion so this week I would like to talk about what makes a great venue for an exhibition of your work. It is not by accident that I just hung twenty pictures for my March show at the Brattleboro Vermont Works Bakery Cafe, one of the nicest commercial locations in my corner of New England.
Keene New Hampshire Wor
The Works started in Keene New Hampshire and has expanded to six locations across New England. The store in Keene was one of the first places in which I ventured to show my work and over the last few of years I have shown there three times as well as at the Cafes in Portland Maine, Portsmouth New Hampshire and now in Brattleboro. In addition to great food the Works has always been committed to providing a quality venue for local artists. There are many restaurants in our region who allow artists to display there work, but too often it is an afterthought with little if any investment in providing a setting in which the art can be well presented. I have said this before but a romantic candle lite restaurant is about the worst place to show pictures on the walls. The Works Cafes are a happy exception to this rule. Richard French and his staff have invested in sturdy hanging systems and nice lighting to make the art a part of the experience and not just an avoidable distraction.
Morning Mist, Peacham Vermont



So what are the features of a good exhibition venue. Here I am speaking mostly of restaurants, but the criteria are essentially valid in any location. I have seldom found the ideal location but here are some factors to consider as you explore your neighborhood for places to "show the work".


Audience :

Moss Glen Falls, Granville Vermont
It is important to show to people who will appreciate and hopefully buy the work. I apologize for the snobbery, but a nice restaurant is likely to be more productive than the local pizza joint or sports bar and the pictures will be less likely to be sprayed with beer. Where possible it helps to think of your audience when you select pictures for the exhibition.  Glorious autumn foliage is obviously great for an October show, but moody cemetery images are probably not the best choice for a hospital waiting room. Traffic is also important. I once hung my pictures along an isolated back hall of a local church where it was greatly appreciated by several lovely members of the choir who walked by once every Sunday. Finally, and perhaps most importantly, when exhibiting at restaurants, one of my absolute rules is that I don't show where I wouldn't want to eat.


Hang in There:


Over the years I have seen every kind of hanging system,
Hanging Strip at Brattleboro Works
and non-system. In many places the hanging system involves a hammer, some nails and an instruction to "not damage the walls". I have never understood how an owner of an otherwise nicely decorated establishment could allow artists to pound fresh holes in their walls on a monthly basis. Permanent hanging systems are much cheaper than the cost of replastering the walls, they come in all forms and can make a great difference.
They improve the attractiveness of the show and make installation much easier and more secure.
Hanging at the Keene Works
The Works in Brattleboro uses inexpensive wood strips installed about 2/3 up the exhibition walls. The pictures are easily arranged and adjusted hanging from metal hooks. There are much more expensive solutions, but this allows a nice clean and consistent presentation. The Works Cafe in Keene uses a serpentine wood skeleton with hanging screws that, by itself, is a piece of modern art. There are many solutions, but the one important factor is to confirm the system can handle the weight of your pictures



Lighting:


For me lightening is the most important factor in a venue. The one or two people who regularly read my blog know that complaints about inadequate or non-existent lighting are a recurring issue.
Track lighting at the Brattleboro Works
Photography comes alive with good illumination and it dies in the dark. Restaurants often have soft lighting scattered about the tables which either causes hopeless glare or impenetrable gloom. Sadly good lightening is expensive, but when used properly it can make the art a key element of a regularly refreshed experience. At the Works, track lighting is designed to highlight the walls and can be adjusted to maximum effect. Heaven! 

Dump Rake in the Mist, Dummerston Vermont

Timing is Everything:

Lupines, Sugar Hill New Hampshire
As I plan my shows I always pay attention to the calendar. Nobody buys art in January, and it is helpful to select work that either celebrates the current season or anticipates the next.  I try to be in my favorite locations during autumn and the Christmas holiday season, but here is never a bad time to show the work.  The ideal exhibition slots always seem to go early, so it is crucial to plan ahead.  The best time to ask an owner about a future exhibition is when you are taking down the last one.



Security:

Velvet Surf, Pemiquid Light
Missing in Action,
I hate to have to bring this up but, since I did have a picture stolen from a show, I feel it is important to mention. My picture was snatched from an unattended wall in a local mall. After being angry and then a little flattered, I ended up with an appreciation of the importance of having people watching the work. And if you happen to see this picture hanging in someone's home and notice a small crack in the glass at the lower right corner give me or Law and Order a call.


I am writing this as I sip my coffee at a corner table at the Works. Nice place. Wonderful photographs. I never tire of watching people look at my work, so if you are in the area drop by. Unfortunately right now the place is mostly populated by pimply teenagers, awash with raging hormonal angst. Not the best audience. Add that to my list.

Invitation, Hinsdale New Hampshire
Winters Grip, Spofford, New Hampshire


If you can't make it to Brattleboro this month, check out the images on my Brattleboro Works Flickr Set:

5 comments:

  1. jeff: a nice cross-section of the seasons of vermont - i particularly like your skill at composing a scene to create a new perspective - my favorite photo in the works show is "Dawn Road" - thanks for sharing your work

    william dixon

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks Bill. Means a lot from a great potographer. I agree with your opinion of the Dawn Road. It is at the top of my web site and on my business cards.
      Jeff

      Delete
  2. Love your blog article and your writing style....fun to read and good information. Having exhibited in many local establishments in my area, I heartly concur with all of your criteria. Your photos are beautiful....if I get down to Brattleboro, I will be certain to check out your exhibit.
    Judy Lombardi
    Golden Acres Photography

    ReplyDelete
  3. Great article Jeff. The photos are beautiful as always. I'm going to have to add the Portsmouth location to my list of doors to knock on as soon as I get done with my current project. I don't suppose you have contact information for whoever I should speak to about getting on the list for a show?

    Again, great story accompanied by great photographs.

    ReplyDelete