Exhibiting Outside of the US
There are innumerable considerations when putting on a show in another country, and some countries are surely more challenging than others. Over the years, I’ve gotten so many questions about overseas shows from collectors, friends and acquaintances, and other artists about everything from finances to accommodations, so I thought it might be nice to write a little bit about my present show, Corps et Âmes, in Paris.
It was in February of this year that the idea of this show was borne. Paris art dealer Mme. Géraldine Banier, of Galerie Geraldine Banier, asked if I could participate in a two-person show with French sculptor Sylvie Mangaud in June. As an oil painter, a two-month turnaround is a challenge. As a very thick, palette knife oil painter, it was actually quite nerve-wracking! I not only committed to shipping 37 paintings, but I somehow had to ensure that they would all be dry enough to handle, crate, ship, and install.
So… while still here in Paris in February, I ordered about thirty canvases from Joel at Art Services, because he is the best. Immediately upon my return to the studio, I got to work. In fact, I holed up in my small studio, with no distractions, for several days and worked with fervor. I actually had a blast being so focused. It felt great, and I felt amazing about the works I was creating. I then moved over to the big studio and got to some of the larger pieces needed for the show. Truly, I was in the zone! I completely love every single piece! I actually channeled the energies of each of my beautiful Parisian friends into the works I was creating, and that made it so easy. Everything flowed! I did all I could; I also pulled a few pieces from a couple other galleries that represent me, then I cranked up the heaters in both studios – and I prayed!
While all of that was going on, Megan and I were keeping really good documentation of each piece’s name and dimensions and began converting to metric for sizes and to Euros for the prices. We also needed to start the customs paperwork through our shipper, SBA Freight. SBA is my main shipper, and their expertise was critical in securing the level of service that I required for this show. Once we got all of the works crated, we sent the weight and size of each crate, along with a detailed list, images of the contents, and the declared value (which is the full retail value) of the contents of each crate. From there, SBA was able to quote for the pick-up of the crates from the studio, the air shipping to Charles DeGaulle, the customs clearance agent in Paris, the transport of the crates to the gallery, the unpacking of the crates and hand-delivery of each painting, and then removal and storage (for four months) of the four crates.
Megan knows the numbers more readily than me at this point, but before the show even opens, the expenses (which include my airfare, accommodations, along with the aforementioned) are right around $20,000. Almost half if that is the VAT (taxes/duties), which were paid by the gallery, and will be reimbursed once a work is sold or upon its return to the US. So, while still quite expensive, that does truly help.
This was definitely a big undertaking. There’s certainly been some stress along the way, but there is so much good news to share. As I write this I am still here in Paris exhausted from a very busy week and a completely packed and overwhelmingly successful opening, and the show looks more beautiful than I even imagined! My work fees so natural with that of Sylvie Mangaud. Her sinewy figures are so incredible, and her intention is so aligned with my own. It is a truly remarkable show.
Other challenges would include my inability to speak French. Though I have been improving by a snail’s pace, I may never be good enough to feel truly comfortable in conversations. That was particularly hard for me during the vernissage. Another challenge here, is that my name, René, is a man’s name. So those who were unfamiliar with me or my work assumed the artist was a man, and when I introduced myself and said “hello”, many seemed to wonder who the heck I was, and when I said that I was the artise de peintre, they were shocked. One person was particularly put off by my name and with sincerity, insisted that I must change my name to the “correct” spelling: Renee. Hmmm… that was quite something.
Truly, though, this show is worth every single bit of effort and aggravation. It is my biggest show ever and absolutely one of my best. I am so proud of every single piece in this show; I am proud to show with Sylvie Mangaud and proud to work with Géraldine Banier. I feel like I’ve been sprinkled with fairy dust! So totally blessed.
I am now fully charged up and ready to get back into the studio and work with newfound inspiration and energy. As usual, I cannot wait!! – René