By Jonathan Baca, Copy Editor | Photos courtesy of Danielle Rae Miller and By Jonathan Baca
On Friday, March 7, a crowd of students, friends, family and local art lovers crowded into the Freestyle Gallery in downtown Albuquerque for the opening night reception of “@ First Glance,” an art show featuring the best works from some of CNM’s art students.
The show will be running until March 19 at the Freestyle Gallery on 1114 Central Avenue SW, and each piece is for sale.
The walls of the gallery were filled with 24 paintings, drawings, prints and sculptures, each created by a different student from the Art Career Concerns class, a course that deals with the realities of making a living as an artist, said the Art instructor, Danielle Rae Miller.
“I think it’s really exciting, because most of the students here have not had a gallery show and it’s something that they’ve probably dreamed about. So tonight is the first moment where it’s like the fulfillment of that dream,” Miller said.
The show was one of the main focal points of the Art Career Concerns class, where Miller moves the focus from the techniques and skills of making art to the skills needed to make it in the competitive world of professional artists, she said.
“I usually start the class by telling them I don’t feel, for most of us, that it is a choice. It’s just like we have to do it, so you’ve got to figure out how you’re going to make a life like that. Because art does not necessarily sell, so how are you going to make it work?” Miller said.
In the class, which is only offered once a year in the spring, students present Miller with the best work they have produced in their life. Miller then selects one work from each student for the show, she said.
Then she hands the work off to the students, who break up into different committees and begin the work of planning and executing a real gallery show, something that most of them have little or no experience in, she said.
Studio Arts major, Sara Cooney was in charge of promoting the event, writing the press media outlets, and said that the skills she learned in the process will definitely help her in her dream of becomrelease, and contacting ing a comic book artist.
“We’ve learned how to be confident in selling yourself, building community and relationships with other artists, organization, and really getting into the mindset that my art can really be a lifestyle and I can make a living,” Cooney said.
In the process of putting on the show, students had to learn the logistics of the art business, like getting their work matted and framed, professionally photographed, and making promotional materials like business cards, Miller said.
Students were forced to solve real-world problems on the spot, learning how to hang up the pieces on the gallery walls, where to put them, and the realities of working with a gallery space, like lighting and organization, she said.
“They learn how to have a show, and then they actually put one on. It’s a great learning experience for them,” Miller said.
Aside from the real-world knowledge students get from putting the show on, Miller said that the opening is valuable for another reason exposing the students to Albuquerque’s larger art community, and also exposing that community to CNM’s art program.
“We’re producing some really amazing graduates, I think the students are stellar, the faculty is great. I think what we’re doing is actually really amazing, and I think this is an opportunity to go out into the community and show it off,” Miller said.