Why should you bring your best pieces to the Gallery?
1) To show your fellow blacksmiths in the community what it is that you are up to.
No matter whether you have made your first hook or your 40th candleholder, the gallery is about showing what you are doing for all levels of smithing. Seeing something by an early smith reminds some who have been smithing longer how far they've come, and might even remind them of how exciting their first project was. Seeing the work of smiths who have been at it for a while inspires the up and coming smiths and gives them work to aspire to. Sharing ideas and the love of what we do is a large part of what the gallery is about.
2) To show the public what we do and how we do it.
Bring a work in progress, show your tooling for a specific piece - the art of blacksmithing is a bit of a mystery to the public. It has its own draws, but for someone trying to build a business, it also has its own drawbacks. The public is where people get their customers whether they are making coathooks, tables, gates or art pieces. They need to have some understanding of the amount of time, effort and work that goes into what we do. As smiths it is true that we need to sell the sizzle, but dazzle them too much with single heat tricks or quick demos and they forget that when they ask for that gate it is a lot of brainpower and manpower to make it happen. If they have a bit of an understanding of how we get from a to b it is easier for them to understand the benefits of them coming to us rather than the local garden centre for that gate.
3) To get a Gallery on your blacksmithing resume.
If you've ever toyed with trying to get a grant, get something in a gallery or even to start selling or demonstrating at a local craft show, having public showing or sales of your work is really important. Most gallery spaces won't touch an unknown artist. Remember, most galleries make their money off of sales of the artists they display. If the artist on offer can't bring in browsers or buyers, that gallery may not be around long.
4) It helps OABA in the long run.
The better the showing at the Gallery (as well as the better the attendance at the conference) the better OABA looks for any future projects we undertake. The gallery will be photographed and the number and variety of pieces will work for us in the future. The next time we want to host CanIRON, or the next time we want to bring in a demonstrator we will have the successes we create now to help us get funding for travel and other similar things. The Gallery is our largest public outreach feature at the conference and its success can make a big difference in the way that we are viewed from the outside.
5) Because it is fun and it gets feedback.
Many of us work alone most of the time. We get together from time to time to share ideas and get a new approach to problems. We can take pieces we are proud of (or photos of them) to meetings. However, there is nothing like seeing your work displayed and watching people you've never met before have a look at it for the first time. Whether it is other blacksmiths who have an understanding of or are learning the process or whether it is someone for who it is all a great mystery... it is a feeling that cannot be duplicated. (Except by doing it again!)
And remember - anyone who is attending the conference can bring any blacksmithing/metalsmithing related work to the gallery and it will be shown.
This post is actually a Kelly post, but in trying to figure out the mechanics of getting Kelly on the blog, it looks like Darrell.