Getting Hung at Hang
DJ Harmon flits about the gallery. Her eyes dance when I mention the name of one of her artists, and she starts plucking canvases out from their hiding places, spreading them across the room. I look at a Jessica Martin piece a little closer, picturing it hanging above my bed in my new studio.
“Just how hard is it to get into Hang anyway?” I ask. She shrugs. “I've been told I'm really strict,” she says, and laughs. Only 5% of the people who submit their portfolios to Hang actually end up with work on the walls.
And getting hung is even harder in the downturn. “The art that's happening right now is outrageously good,” she tells me excitedly. “This is when the raw happens. This is when the weak get weeded out.”
Hang Art remains the holy grail for artists on the local scene who want to get one step closer to making a living off of their work, and DJ is the gatekeeper. She keeps the art affordable and her cohorts happy by renting out their pieces and curating public events with VIN12 and Artpoint.
So just how does one go about getting hung on some of the most coveted walls 'round town? Sipping her tea slowly, DJ tells me her secrets.
DJ guards her space with a 95% rejection rating.
Mind the Blog
DJ scans photos from local art openings on Artbusiness.com and other blogs to see who's showing on the walls in places like Adobe Books or the back room of BellJar. “It's a small blog, but it's made an impact, because people will send me images from it and say, ‘hey, I saw this artist.’” If something strikes her fancy? She’ll hunt the artist down.
SF by NY
If you think it’s ironic that you’d need to show in New York to get hung in San Francisco, you’d be right. Still, DJ swears she’s discovered some of her most talented people at the Affordable Art Fair. Plus, there’s the added benefit of getting schmoozy with gallery owners over cocktails at the after parties.
Do Good Works
Donating one of your very best pieces to Intersection for the Arts or Art Span will pay off, big time. “I look at auctions constantly for the next big thing,” says DJ. Still, she sees a lot of artists make the mistake of donating less-than-stellar work. “It’s got to be tight and well thought out and the framing better be good,” otherwise it’ll get looked over by the pros.
Please Read Manual Before Using
The majority of works at Hang come to them online, and the single most important thing an artist can do is follow the directions. “Exceptional work is exceptional work,” she says, but still – “a folded up piece of paper that's been ripped out of a spiral notebook with a couple of pictures on it” won’t cut it, no matter how good you are.
Cafes and restaurants are always looking for art, and it was guest artist Jessica Niello’s very public mural in flour + water that got her noticed by Hang. Resident artist Philip Hua's stuff was also discovered by DJ hanging in the background of a party photo found online.
DJ’s made an obsessive habit of keeping in touch with Southern Exposure, 111 Minna and Open Studios to see who's on their walls. Buddy up with one of them and you may just end up in bed with Hang.