I WALK INTO AN ART GALLERY WEARING A CRASH HELMET CARRYING MY PORTFOLIO - Carl Bistrack

I do expect to be art-and-soul-bashed from both sides


In the last few years, I began working in a relatively new photo art collage media. Originally, I was a commercial/Industrial film producer in my own company Film Flair for 25 years. My departure from the film industry for several-years, working with my patented writing instruments EzGrip to relieve hand difficulty, took me away from the film media field. I missed the habit of visualization - finding the best way to portray images and thought. So I took up digital photography. (well.. I actually took up digital photography & Photoshop to help promote the product at first….) What started as a well-meaning enjoyment and hobby, turned into an Art Vs Photography, Me Vs Them dispute that led me to wear a safety crash helmet. I think you’ll understand that – eventually.

I developed a technique. Just taking a photo didn’t accomplish the final result I wanted. I still had that film script mentality. I did find a way to create story-telling images. A completed piece was made up of multiple images. Many contained 20 or more visual pieces that became the photo collage – a completed photo script that had a beginning, middle, and end. The visuals were interesting, innovative and some a little offbeat, humorous, and maybe a little wacky.

I’ve seen very few photos hanging in galleries. The exceptions are the work of historians – the masters, the classics – Ansel Adams, Alfred Steiglitz, Margaret Burke-White and a few others– their work and style is a part of photography and art history. My work is technically, and visually different from most. It create a love/hate reaction by persons in photography and art that see it. My work does belong in galleries.

But, there’s that crash helmet thing – why a gallery may not value my photo art: I’m slowly discovering there’s a business difference between a gallery selling an actual art piece or selling a photo. The basic reason – a framed art piece is unique. It’s a hand drawn oil, acrylic, or watercolor painting, or a combined media. A photo art piece is a print and may be one of many prints sold. The artists’ piece is a single work on canvas. A photo print on canvas can be reproduced multiple times. For the gallery, an art piece may be one-at-a-time uniqueness and financial differences. For a photograph, an interested buyer, can go to a photographers web site and buy a print of the subject possibly more cheaply and a different size than that displayed in the gallery. So, why would a gallery want to display a work the viewer-potential customer can buy themselves on the photo persons internet site? I’m fortunate in the sense I’m beginning to understand the issues and try to work with them to mutual benefit.

BUT generally, when presenting my photo art, discussions with a gallery owner may be anything but straightforward or cordial. Rejection presents itself in many forms: "The artist waiting list is on overload.,” …a sudden business meeting, criticism of work, the paper or canvas it’s printed on, subject and composition differences – anything stated other than the reality of a gallery business needs. Rejection takes many forms. I’m trying to form the tools to accommodate the viewer and art gallery. My work’s being slowly accepted and enjoyed. “Halloween Hurricane” was chosen out of 707 nationwide entries for a 125 piece landscape exhibit in Maryland Federation of Art Gallery Annapolis, MD. “Clams” was chosen out of 3000 entries for a 150 piece exhibit of North & South Carolina artists held at the Elders Art Gallery Charlotte, NC I am slowly entering the art world and still collecting information to understand the benefit of all involved: – Does the viewer/buyer prefer seeing a work in person, or on a website? –Should a photo-artist restrict the number of prints made on a particular subject or all subjects? – Should a photo web site not show the prices and options – – Can you suggest which is the best way? Hopefully the safety helmet I’ve had to wear is only a temporary means to take hits on a few curves to find the best path.

Hopefully the crash  helmet is only a temporary means to take hits on a few curves to find the best path