Lessons I've Learned
David Campbell- Backs of Houses and Church, Early Spring
Believe in yourself! Not long after I opened my first gallery in Boston, my confidence waned. I began to doubt my own judgment. I was busy with my art consulting business and I knew I did that well, but a gallery, the director that was a different story. I reached out to John Arthur, someone I knew and trusted and asked him to curate a show for the gallery. Of course it was an instant success, he was knowledgeable, important, an author, an artist, a curator. The next show he did was again well received, why not, he knew so much about the art world. But then the reality set in, I couldn't do this forever and still be the director of the gallery, I had to begin to trust my own judgment.
I had begun to collect the work of an artist that I thought was remarkable; a talented realist, a masterful technician, and his work resonated with me emotionally. I reached out to David Campbell, the artist I was collecting and invited him to exhibit in the gallery. I offered him a one-person show the following month. I really believed in him and felt confident that others would respond favorably.
That afternoon John Arthur walked into the gallery, looked around carefully, walked over to me and said, You've made a huge mistake, David is not ready to show his work much less a one-person show. He didn't stop there, he went on, he said his watercolors need work. The show was due to open in three hours, I was devastated. John was the author of the Richard Estes book, he curated the Alfred Leslie show for the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston, and he was an accomplished curator sharing his thoughts with me. What was I to do? It was too late, I was dead!
My gallery at the time was at 10 Post Office Square in Boston. I walked up the stairs, out the front door and headed toward Faneuil Hall. As I approached the crowded Marketplace, I quickly found a bench and sat down. Leaning over, I put my head in my hands and began to sob. I was finished. I should never have trusted my judgment, what was I thinking? I telephoned an old friend and as I explained the situation, he tried to calm me down, he told me not to listen to John, to trust my own taste, "walk back into the gallery with your head held high and greet the guests with confidence" he said. Even if I wasn't convinced he was right, I needed to hear his comments.
I walked slowly back to the gallery, stopped by the ladies room to fix my face and wipe away the tears. When I finally entered the gallery, my staff was busy preparing the food and wine. We chatted a bit about where to place the guest book and I heard the door to the gallery open. Looking up, I saw Cliff Ackley, the print and drawing curator from the Boston Museum of Fine Arts. He was descending the stairs and walked straight over to two large watercolors on the back wall. Several minutes later, he walked over to me and said: "How much are those two hanging on the back wall?" I gave him the price, we negotiated for a few minutes, said to send the museum an invoice and left as quickly as he arrived. A proud smile broke out on my face, my friend was right, why didn't I know to trust my own taste?
Above is one of the two paintings purchased by theÂ Museum of Fine Arts, Boston