Sunday, August 31, 2008

Packing and Unpacking

The packing was the hardest thing to do in preparation for the show. It required creativity, lots of math skills and stamina. Unfortunately there isn't an Artists' Depot where you can go and pick up packing materials for your artwork. There are services you can hire (Artex, Artpack), though. They will come, pack it, transport it and deliver it safely, for the price of a week in Sedona.

Some folks rely on UPS stores to provide them with hard-to-find boxes, and if they're in a pinch, the packing itself. Others go to places like Office Depot and Staples, where you won't find cheap or unusual boxes, but you can find packing tape, markers and wrapping foam. If you're a purist, there are a couple of companies (Ashley Distributors, Navis) who will sell you small amounts of museum-quality packing supplies for museum prices. I decided I would buy these materials from Uline since I was in it for the long haul, and I am already paying for storage. Prices are much better, but everything has to be bought in bulk. Because of this, many supplies have to be shipped by truck and this is more expensive. However, I have saved a lot of time with boxes that have the dimensions I need, and I can get ethafoam's cheaper cousin, plank foam, in many forms. Don't buy packing tape from them though, because you'll be buying a minimum of a hundred or so rolls and they do have a shelf life. Uline also makes crates in standard sizes and they do take orders for custom dimensions. I will always prefer making my own crates, but if you're in a time crunch, it's nice to know you can order them. One last thing about Uline: They make these neat shipping labels that you just slap on the box and can be reused. I use them to identify the artwork in each box. The alternative is too time consuming.

The whole thing took us three days. The first day was for creating the labels and assembling all of the materials together in one area. Each label included the packing and unpacking instructions, because the paintings will be going to other exhibits later on.

The second day was spent assembling the boxes and placing the paintings inside. This meant that the inside of the boxes had to be padded with plank foam. The plank foam came in 4 x 4" cubes with adhesive on one side, and I had to find a way to place them in a cost-effective way. I placed corner protectors on the framed paintings, wrapped them in craft paper, tied the package with string and labeled the wrapping.

The third day was spent transporting the paintings across the Oakland bridge in my Toyota truck. Sarah and I had to move the boxes from my studio to my truck, and lash all eight boxes together in a wind-resistant way. To give you an idea, I used a mattress box to fit the two largest paintings. Some of the boxes were telescopic and this meant they weren't closed in a traditional way. We were always concerned that the wind could lift the top of those boxes, but fortunately that didn't happen. Upon arrival, I pulled out my hand truck to move the boxes from the truck to the second floor of the building, where the gallery was located. Because the hand truck was brought in the same truck, I was careful to bring a hand truck not heavier than fifty pounds, the maximum weight I can handle. Good thing my puppy is about the same weight, I already had practice!

Needless to say, after such a weekend, I was exhausted and came to realize why packing services charge what they do. Even I could have used a week in Sedona after my packing adventure.

Monday, August 25, 2008

What a Success!

The exhibit held at CompassPoint, Undocumented: Latino Immigrant Portraits by Rebeca Garcia-Gonzalez, was a fantastic event. The VIP reception was earlier, to give the press a chance to see it before the rest of the public. Given the tremendous number of people who came (more than a hundred), this was a wise decision. Luckily for us, some came earlier and others late. Martina Ayala and her husband Alex Balmaceda, my friends from graduate school who did all of the public relations, are responsible for such wonderful numbers.

It feels wonderful to have received such support from friends, colleagues, family and total strangers interested in art. They asked very interesting questions. My only regret was to not have had enough time to go beyond, "Hi, thank you so much for coming!" due to the opening's popularity.

The Mission Vocational School's Culinary Department did the catering. I didn't eat, but I heard the food was excellent. They were very professional. We served wine, water and get this: vitamin water. This was another good decision, as the temperature went up with the number of attendees.
Curator Linette Morales spoke first. She talked about the impression the paintings had made on her personally. I thanked the incredible team that made it possible: my partner Sarah Calderon, in charge of the logistics for that day, the framing of all 16 paintings, and of helping me pack and deliver them across the bridge; Carmen Melendez, who did almost all of the graphic design out of her business Pitipua Graphix; Linette Morales, who volunteered her curatorial skills; and Vicky Lee, who supported us on CompassPoint's behalf. Bianca Serra, from The Centro Legal de la Raza, explained what they do to help undocumented Latino inmigrants, since this is the organization that will receive 30-40% of any sales.

I placed a "vote for your favorite" board on a column, and will use this feedback to decide which paintings should I reproduce as gliclee prints. We also asked those those are interested to give us their e-mail so that we can notify them as they become available. There was, however, considerable interest in the paintings themselves. We are working on a way to sell with an agreement to allow other exhibits even as new owners take possesion. We'd like this exhibit to travel to Los Angeles next, but I'd have to find a way to finance the shipping as it is a costly proposition, even if I deliver them myself.

Sunday, August 03, 2008

Designs for the Show

My friend and former classmate Martina Ayala, who is promoting my upcoming show Undocumented: Latino Immigrant Portraits, preferred the boxed version of this postcard, now making the rounds among friends and colleagues. Carmen Melendez, the graphic designer who created this card, also liked the card because of the model, whom she found exceedingly handsome. They also said the green lettered version had a painting with a stronger, more intense stare. This painting made the posterfor the show, but the postcard's final version went to another painting I made much later, a closeup of a young man who perhaps wasn't as handsome, but who also had a very intense look. The colors in both are very bright, but perhaps I'm partial to work done on wood panels. Who knows? I like both. Which one do you like?