I live in a relatively small city in Japan called Fukuyama and at first sight it's easily forgotten but as a resident, I've found a few places to keep me busy. For me, a city requires a few basic necessities, such as; bars, restaurants, cinemas, galleries, live music, etc. To it's credit, Fukuyama does have a few of these things minus the decent live scene and local art scene. So, when something is lacking, DIY.
Around June '07 I talked to a photography enthusiast friend of mine and we toyed with the idea of organizing a group exhibition. About 6 months later, SOUZOUv.1 - International Art & Photography Exhibition had it's opening night on Dec 1st '07 at Nagaya Gallery in Fukuyama, Japan.
In all, we had 10 people exhibiting works;
Matt Rose (England) - Photography
Yoko Hirasaka (Japan) - Photography
Hitoshi Matsuzaki (Japan) - Photography
Simon Yates (England) - Photography
Coby Woods (Canada) - Mixed Media/Photography
Mayumi Kobayashi (Japan) - Textile Art
Diane Poon (Canada) - Photography
Isaac Reichenbach (US) - Mixed Media
Here are some tips on how to organize your own exhibition.
1: Find like minded people who share the same goals for the show, between 5 & 10 people. It's good to mix it up a little, we had mostly photographers but were lucky to have some textile, installation photography and some illustration/mixed media work too.
2: Get two or three people to be the organizers and then delegate smaller jobs to the others.
3: Be somewhat organized and hold a meeting once a month to touch base.
4: Find a space to hold the exhibition. Usually a small, private gallery might help you out for a reasonable price or try city halls or offices and vacant shops.
4: Make a dedicated email account of your shows name.
5: Maybe make a flickr group.
6: Keep everyone in the show informed of what's going on, what they need to do, costs involved, etc.
7: Put the word out, let friends, family, co-workers know or even make a facebook event.
8: Make postcards/flyers/posters (like above) to distribute at bars, cafes, other galleries and also pass them out to people.
9: Don't forget to write a small profile, artists statement and any other relevant information to put into a small photocopied booklet for guests to read through. Also make name and title of work cards for the exhibited work.
10: At the show we had alcohol, a DJ and the owner did some video art. So if you can, add some
other elements to the show to make it more dynamic and interesting.
As a end note, try and get some funding, either from your local council, arts group or just fund raise yourselves. Also hit up the big companies for freebies if you put their logo on your poster. Good ones are wineries, print shops, snack companies, etc.
Organizing an exhibition can be frustrating, especially if some people aren't on the same page for whatever reason but the opening night was a lot of fun and the minor negatives where heavily outweighed by the positives.
Overall it was a fantastic and successful experience that allowed new people to see my work it it's intended format, print not screen. So there you have it, SOUZOUv.1 is done and we're already thinking about v.2 in six months time.