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the making of an art show

a behind the scenes look at a curatorial debut and exhibition

the show:   c o n t o u r s


In her first exhibition as curator, Cristina Tafuri showcases five artists' distinct visions of the human form, and contextualizes the human figure within a broader cultural domain. 
Diverse in character and medium, this exhibition exemplifies the artists' shared commitment to the physicality of the human figure and their devotion to balancing the conscious and subconscious implications of corporeal subject matter. Amid the harshness of our body-conscious culture, these artists seek to perfect what purportedly cannot be perfected through their imaginative celebration of not only the human figure, but of humanity itself.


the curator:  c r i s t i n a    t a f u r i

I'm about to graduate from the New School University in May. This is a project that has been in the back of my mind for about two years, and I thought it would be a wonderful cap off to my undergrad education. The theme for the exhibition, the human figure, has always been of strong interest to me.
Cristina Tafuri in Gallery.jpg Curator-Cristina Tafuri
I came together with these five artists when they were doing their MA at The New York Academy of Fine Art. I've been watching their work evolve for the past two years, and as I feel I have a good understanding of each of their body of work I was drawn to and inspired by it.The project hit the ground running in December of 2010, and now it's finally materializing in what will be a wonderful show. It's been a incredible opportunity. Ultimately, I would like to curate and this show has given me the opportunity to do everything. From curating the body of work, to finding funding, to painting the gallery walls, etc. It has also given these five artists their first shows in Chelsea.

the prep:  p l a n n i n'   a n d   h a n g i n'

What were some of the problems or obstacles you encountered in preparing for the show?
We had some troubles when trying to decide whether or not to frame the works on paper. In the end we used clips, which I think is a nice clean contemporary look. Also, moving the work from the artists studio in Brooklyn to the gallery was stressful and the sculptures were definitely the hardest to move carefully. Our palms were literally sweating when driving trying to avoid pot holes. There was a great sense of relief when I opened the back of the U-Haul and saw that everything was still in one piece!
How realistic was the budget you first put together?
Thankfully we were under budget by a few hundred dollars. Some things, for example the cost of the printing was more than expected but then others such as the advertising were less. So it all balanced out in the end.
Were there unexpected expenses? If so, how did you handle them?
I would say that I probably over planned when writing up my budget in that I budgeted for almost every possible expense to avoid any surprises. To date, we haven’t had any.
Did any of the artists have issues with how the work was displayed?
I did my best to meet everyone’s visions for their own work. But in the end it came down to my final vision for the show. I took everyone into consideration and I think that they are pleased with the results.
Did you have any problems the day of the opening?
I had a bit of a scare when I thought we would have to take a wall down so that the alarm system in the gallery  could be fixed. Thank god that was avoided when the men who came in to do it just climbed over the wall to fix it! Other than that, if you don’t count myself and my best friend having to shlep four bags of ice from 24th Street and 6th Avenue to 25th street and 10th Avenue in heels 45 minuets before the opening was supposed to start because we couldn’t get a cab, everything went very smoothly.

day 1:  o p e n i n g  n i g h t   r e c e p t i o n

day 2:  t h e   a f t e r g l o w

What was your reaction to the opening reception…how do you think it went, were you pleased with  the results, etc.?
I thought the opening reception was a huge success. The turnout was incredible and I know that all of us were pleased to see such enthusiastic support.
What if any feedback did you get?
The artists and I were given tons of positive feedback at the opening. Over and over again I was told that the work was young and vibrant, the show was cohesive and well curated, and that it was such an accomplishment for all of us.
How many people did you have helping you at the reception?
We were all on the ball in terms of keeping an eye out for what needed to be done during the opening. Restocking the fliers and catalogues etc. Aside from that I only had one of my very good friends from The New School, Suzy Kopf, bar tending, and Nelson Aguirre was shooting photo’s for us. 
How many people will be at the gallery helping you on a daily basis?
Most of the time it will just be myself. On certain days the artists will switch off to come in a sit the gallery during the day so I can attend my classes.
Was anything sold at the opening reception?

week 1:  t h e   h a l f w a y   m a r k

How did the 1st week go and what was your reaction to the week’s events?
Overall our first week was great. I can honestly say that I was more nervous about the opening reception than the gallery actually being open on a regular basis. Every morning this week when I opened the door I kept having the reactions of, "Oh yeah! This is all up! We did this!” Which is a feeling I don’t think I could ever get tired of. The artists and I have been doing constant advertising through friends, family, and people we don’t even really know...telling them about the show and getting people through the doors. Which really seems to have worked. I’m definitly pleased with the turnout and the positive feedback from the first week. I can only hope it continues as we enter our second and final week of the exhibition. 
Were there any issues that came up during the 1st week?
Thankfully not. Everything is still going according to plan!
Was there a good turn out during the week?
There was definitely a steady trickle of people coming in every day throughout the week, those we knew and those who we didn’t know. I was actually surprised by the number of out of town school groups that just happened upon the exhibition as they were walking through the building. A former teacher of mine also brought in his Parsons department seminar class. He wanted to use my show and the experience as an opportunity to show young students that with the right mind set and the right strategies big things can get done while one is still in university.
Was anything sold?  If not, was there any interest on any pieces?
We still have no red dots. However, to have a show in Chelsea at this stage in the artists' careers, and in mine, is a wonderful opportunity regardless of sales at this date. That being said, we did have a well known art dealer who happened to just be in the building and who came upon CONTOURS by chance. He was gracious enough to spend time speaking with me about the project, and was excited to see such young and inspiring  talent.

week 2:  c l o s i n g   r e c e p t i o n

How did you feel after the 2nd week…what was your reaction to the week’s events?
On the whole it went well. There were no surprises, we were still focusing on bringing people in to see the show and wanted to keep everything running smoothly. I was pleased with the number of people who came in during the week and also we had a nicely attended closing reception. Which I think was a wonderful way, for the artists and myself, to close down the show and this experience. 
How was the turnout the 2nd week?
It was great. Better than the first week. Word seems to travel fast so we had a good constant flow of people coming in and out. 
How many pieces sold?
Were the artists happy with the exhibit and final results?
I know that we were all pleased with how everything turned out. Obviously each artists would have loved to have made a sale; however, it was a wonderful experience for each of them to have their work exposed and to really get their hands into a project such as this one. 
Now having had the experience, what if anything would you do differently?
I really could not have asked for a better all around experience. Going into this I knew there was a very good possibility of failure, but I didn’t let that stop me. It was a huge project to take on, but I knew I would regret it if I didn’t do it. I was inspired and helped many wonderful people, and I wouldn’t be on the other side if it wasn’t for each of them. This experience has given me the confidence and motivation to move forward onto even bigger things, and in addition it has opened doors that I am ready and confident enough to walk though!