“Success is not a good teacher, failure makes you humble.” Shahrukh Khan
As of this writing I am participating in an exhibition at the Southeast Museum of Photography, which is something that I am most proud of. Over the years I have been very fortunate to be able to show my work in some very fine galleries and museums. Talking about the show with my friend and mentor, Bob Lerner, I was reminded of a story about a show that I was in some 25 years ago. I think that it played an important role in some of my attitudes about the vagaries of putting your work in public.
While I was still attending Daytona Sate College, I was asked to participate in an exhibition of photography that was to feature large number local photographers at the Orlando Library. I thought this was a truly important opportunity, which I jumped at. It was for me a validation of my entry to the fine art photography community of Central Florida. Telling one of my teachers about the show, he suggested that I ask the organizers if they would be interested in his work as well, which they were. I turned in my work on time, showing what I thought to be my best offerings and then waited for the opening.
A group of us went to the opening and when we first walked into the door in a very prime place was the teacher’s work that I had suggested. The rest of the show was spread out over the entire library, which is quite large. Looking around, I could not fine my work and was beginning to wonder if they had decided not to hang the work. Then one of my fellow students said that he found where I my work was hanging and we all went to see. It turned out that my photographs was hung in an office, that at the time of the opening was locked and could only be seen in the darkness through the window in the door. I looked at the door and it said that it was where books on tape were kept. Unlike today, books on tape at that time were mostly checked out to the visually impaired, which meant that most of those who came to the office most likely could not see my photographs. I was struck with the irony and to some extent the surreal quality of the how my work was being presented, but rather than get angry, I found it amusing.
I think that almost every artist who shows their work will have one or more stories like this. It value, at least for me, is to remind me that my work is not always going to be placed in what I might think the best and appropriate spot. It keeps one humble and that can be a good thing.