The Gift of Information

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Last month I went to 3331 Arts Chiyoda to meet with Hiroyuki Kimura, the booking coordinator in charge of their residence program. I wanted to discuss the possibilities and the merits of a residency vs a solo show. He was very generous with his time and frank with his answers. The studios for artists doing residencies are on-site now but are moving to another location nearby. Many changes are being suggested, such as more studios for more artists, but nothing is definite yet, so he was not sure about what to show me at the moment.

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This place has one of the few residencies in a Japan that does not have an age limit. That is great news for re-emerging artists like me. I would not be limited to their facilities; I could go home and feed the cats if need be. (I asked.) One concern was that they cater to students, not artists carving out careers. The fact that Geidai, the national art school, was having a graduate show while we were there and making Christmas trees from boxes of curry exemplified this concern expressed by a friend of mine. I have no qualms with galleries that have graduate shows but I was worried about the proportion of shows featuring artists who might be currently enrolled in schools. Tokyo has a wide range of venues and possibly many rules about how people should do things, so I do not want to pay large sums of money at a place associated with amateurs, hobbyists, or beginning students. I want to take the next step and have my first solo show.

Kimura explained that their primary targets were artists in other countries who wanted to experience Japan and make contacts with local craftspeople and other artists. This sounded good to me.

He asked what my personal goal would be for having a show or being a resident at 3331 Arts Chiyoda. I explained that I had moved up to the Kanto area from Kyushu and was interested in stepping into the Tokyo scene, getting my name out there, and meeting other artists up here. To best do that, I was not sure if a residency or a show would best suit my needs. A month-long residency, including a place to stay, cost about the same as a week-long show. You can see why I was investigating all options.

After showing me the galleries on the first floor and in the basement, he came up with an interesting idea. He said that if it were him he would concentrate on getting his name out there. He would not rent a gallery for an entire week; he would only have his show on the weekend. Why? Most shows get very little traffic on weekdays; they are much busier on the weekends. For the cost of renting a gallery for one week, I could have two shows at two different galleries on two weekends. That would get my name out there at least twice. As I have mentioned before, the same people go to events run by the same people in the same neighbourhoods. That is why bands and performers have a hard time  getting people to come to their gigs. This means that people who regularly check out events at 3331 Arts Chiyoda would come to a show there, but different people would come to a show in Shinjuku. In theory, you could show exactly the same work to two different audiences but get your name out twice to both. Does that make sense?

After talking with Kimura, I would have had only a few days to fill out the application. He thought that I would not have enough time to do that and possibly that the residency would not help me achieve my goals in the way that I wanted. Regardless of that, he made me think about possibilities that I had never thought about before.

What to do next? I liked his ideas. I have decided to not do a residency there. It is a little too close to home, so I can imagine me making excuses and always heading back home to feed the cats or to do other little things that would eat into my studio time. The administration would also schedule activities that would eat into my time. I just have to be better at getting the work done in my own studio. I also have to find galleries that are perhaps smaller and less grand that appeal to me. Okay, maybe not too small. I have some larger drawings that I would like to show. I also need to find galleries in several areas of Tokyo. Then I need to arrange several weekend shows. Galleries have relatively busy schedules, so I hope I can plan in advance. I hope that I can use the next two months to seriously explore some options. I guess I have made my resolutions for the new year. Wish me luck!

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