|Waterlily paintings at Claris Financial ©Mary Montague Sikes|
When the private Richmond gallery suddenly went bankrupt, I was shocked. They had sold several paintings for which I was never paid. The power company comes first, someone told me. Then, the museum closed its sales gallery so as not to compete with the private ones. I especially loved the museum sales gallery because it rented paintings and the renters almost always became buyers. I did well there and was sorry to see it go. The Hilton Head galleries did well for me. This was the 1980s, and art sold well then, I realize now.
As all of this was going on in the art world, I became enamored with writing a romance novel. From newspaper stories it looked like a simple thing to do, so I decided to become a romance novelist. I joined Romance Writers of America and started going to all the national conferences. Instead of painting, I wrote and submitted, then wrote and submitted some more. I learned a lot, especially that getting published in romance was not so simple after all. In the meantime, I wasn't painting. We were traveling, and I was writing travel articles and taking lots of photographs. My travel stories and pictures were getting published in newspapers and magazines. I loved seeing the full-page articles along with my byline.
Eventually I got back to painting and using my own photos as resource material for my artwork. By then, many of the galleries that represented me had gone out of business or were struggling and doing little for their artists. Also, a new concept was developing for artists. They were renting spaces in big old renovated buildings. One of them was Shockoe Bottom Arts Center in Richmond. A friend who had a space there invited me to share it for a few months, and I did. Having this gallery inspired me to paint and to have new work up periodically. When the owners sold the building, I followed them to another big old building. This one was in Petersburg, Petersburg Regional Art Center, where I stayed, showed my work, and entered monthly juried shows. Ten years later, that building was sold. After a seven million dollar renovation, the Ward Center for Contemporary Art will be part of the new project, set to open later this year.
|"Lime Tree" at Claris ©Mary Montague Sikes|
|Wall of Work - Private Home|
But I have a new book out now, so I have a question: Where do artists show paintings if they write novels as well? Showing and selling art work suffers when the artist is writing. Promoting and selling books suffer when the artist is painting. Somewhere there's an answer to that question. Where?