How the Art World Works, 101

Staff Report
Photos courtesy of Doug Stuber

When you are a visual artist, especially one still painting after all the years of installations and videos and performance art have passed you by, the significance of timing, who you know and continuing to push your work can become as important as the work itself.

In May, Doug Stuber was handed an exhibit space initially set up by Park Kwang-suk, his wife, at the Jami Art Center in the Buk-gu district on northern Gwangju, near Chonnam National University.

Some of Stuber's paintings in the O's Square exhibition.
Some of Stuber’s paintings in the O’s Square exhibition.

He sent out an invitation, and 12 artists joined in the show. All were great, but one of his favorites was the photography of Anjee Di Santo. Anjee did a lot of work on the show even though she knew she couldn’t attend the opening. Doug accompanied her for a tour of the show when she was able to pop down from Jeonju, and she said, “Hey Doug, why don’t you show at a coffee shop in Jeonju?”

Being adventuresome, and having had great success selling out of restaurants and coffee shops in the U.S. and Holland, Stuber agreed. Little did he know it was O’s Square, an amazing place, the exterior of which is landscaped like a Chosun dynasty palace, and the interior of which shows the fine work of an excellent architect.

The architect in this case, Jyen Hyae-gab, also has an amazing space near Jeonju that is a huge, stand-alone gallery, O’s Gallery, and another in Damyang.

Sign outside O's Square in Jeonju for Stuber's exhibition
Sign outside O’s Square in Jeonju for Stuber’s exhibition

So Anjee introduced Doug to the owner and curator Mun Hui of O’s square, and they chatted about the chance to show. The coffee shop is huge, two stories, and is an amazing place to show art because patrons stick around for so long. At galleries people often rush through, fearing some type of sales pressure will come at them. The emphasis on quality exhibits was evident by looking at previous O’s art catalogues. Stuber had group shows at the Eunam Museum and Gwangju Museum of Art in 2011, but this was his first solo show in Korea.

At the June 30 reception, the jazz band “Polaroid,” who are often heard at “In the Groove” in downtown Gwangju, played two sets of very inspiring tunes.

So, the deal was made, Doug hung 21 pieces. and the show was extended. His pieces will be up from June 15 to about August 15. In this case, persistence and good luck equaled a great show. The moral of the story? If you’re an expat artist, there may be few great opportunities that come your way, and persistence pays off.

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