The opening day for my solo exhibition was approaching. John and I frequently visited Chris at Dragon Gallery in Amagansett in order to organize my show in detail. Dragon Gallery was located on Main street, but it was a quiet street with just some houses on it. Lilly, Chris’s wife, was usually at their Nyack location and Chris was at the new location in Amagansett. Chris was staying upstairs there and he set up the gallery interior and prepared for the shows.
Chris asked me to write a biography, so I wrote it down on paper and handed it to John. John edited it and then Chris printed many copies on nice paper. John mentioned that, when he was editing my biography, he thought that it was better to leave the words I had used as much as possible rather than changing them to more common words. So, the biography came out as quite unique and interesting.
Also, the titles of my abstract paintings were quite unique and unusual. In fact, the titles had already been created in Cork, Ireland, and those metaphysical words and their implications were based on what was in my head at that time. From the title of the exhibition to the titles of my paintings and the content in my biography, Chris and John never mentioned anything about what I’d written or tried to change it. So, I think that this exhibition turned out to be a representation of a raw and true vision of mine.
Chris also created an invitation postcard for the opening. They used the Brooklyn Bridge painting on the card.
Chris, John and I also worked on setting up prices for my work. First, I gave them my idea for how much I wanted to sell them for. After that, John and Chris discussed it together and they decided on $1800 for each piece. The paintings I decided to include in the exhibition were some of the abstract paintings I had done during the spring and the New York city scenes I had created in summer through autumn. There were about a dozen in total.
The exhibition was combined with another female artist’s show on the other side of the gallery. We also talked about how the artwork would be displayed. This whole process of preparation for the show was a very interesting experience.
November 23, the opening for my solo exhibition, was a very windy day. I headed to Dragon Gallery before the opening. There was Asian furniture for sale in front of the gallery that Chris and Lily had brought from South Asia. Chris arranged the celebration of the opening night with Japanese sake. It was served in a sake cup on a low Asian-style antique wooden rectangular table.
When the show opened, a number of visitors came. I think they were mostly the galley’s clients. It was my first official exhibition in my life. I didn’t know anything about how they normally did it. So, I just stood there and sometimes I talked to some potential customers. They were quite older than me and I wasn’t so impressed with how they reacted to my work. In my opinion, the paintings, like those in an abstract style, needed additional explanation of the work and, probably, of the artist, before they could be fully appreciated.
After those clients went home, Chris told me what they had said about my work. He told me that they thought those abstract paintings, the ones that I had done earlier, had a rough look because of the paint accumulated on the surface. But they thought the city scenes that I had done later had come out quite good, especially the Perpetual Lightning in Manhattan Sky. Also, they commented that the titles of my paintings were very unique and interesting.
I thought they were probably very experienced art buyers because they knew where to look and how to critique the artwork. I assume that many people in New York or perhaps the entire United States, have a good eye for artwork. I appreciated the feedback.
I also talked to a young couple who Chris had known. They came a bit later so there were only a few people in the gallery. The girl told me that she wanted her boyfriend to quit smoking, but he hadn’t. I asked her boyfriend why he smoked and then he said that, when he smoked, he lost weight and that was why. I said to him that that was not a good reason to smoke, and if he wanted to smoke, he should exercise instead. And then the girl nodded deeply with a smile and looked at her boyfriend.
I thought it was interesting to talk to those guests who just came to my show. It was because I thought that people, in general, had respect for artists, and especially if they were younger than me, they wanted to talk about their problems or ask artists about their lives. By the way, I assume it is quite common that men and perhaps women smoke to stay slim. It was because I remember John Connolly, who I had met in Cork, Ireland, had mentioned that he smoked because, if he didn’t smoke, he put on weight.
Nobody bought my work from the show during the first two weeks of the exhibition. Chris decided to continue the show until January. Although none of the paintings were sold, there was some more good feedback from visitors to the shows. One man, who saw my work, said that my paintings should have been exhibited in Chelsea, the new high-end art district which had just replaced Soho. Also, I heard from John that Elizabeth Silver, from who I had rented a studio space in NYC, and her husband had gone to see my exhibition.
John also commented that it was normal that nothing sells at an exhibition and if one piece sells, that means it was a successful show. John said that a person who owned an art gallery in East Hampton was interested in buying one of my paintings and John had kept it on hold. The painting was returned to me eventually.
Prior to the show, John had mailed an invitation postcard addressed to Paul McCartney. John didn’t know Paul’s address, so he wrote down, “Postman please” on the card and mailed it. It didn’t come back so it must have arrived at Paul McCartney’s house in East Hampton. I also mailed the card to Bon Jovi at his New Jersey address. I hope both of them went to see my work!
John told me that Chris had commented in the gallery that someone should buy all my paintings right then while the prices were low before they went up. I think that, when a gallery decides to hold a solo exhibition of an artist, it means the gallery must have already a lot of faith in that artist. Chris was the one who had purchased my Derry City architectural watercolour painting for himself. He knew what I could produce and I think that he had believed in my potential, just like John. I was very appreciative of all the work John and Chris had done.
While I was living in Rick’s house, I made sketches of my room and the backyard where there were a BBQ stand and autumn trees behind.