Vernissage How-To

Seven painting students applied for two Vernissage Assistant roles in painting. Sami Woolhiser, from Landscape Painting, and Carolyn Hepler-Smith, from Advanced Painting, were selected. Throughout the week preceding the exhibition (in addition to preparing their own work), they attended to a variety of responsibilities, prepared information, communicated needs, delegated duties, and problem-solved a variety of logistical factors. Their organizational abilities, good eye for placement, people skills, and skills with hand tools ensured that the painting students knew what they needed to do when.

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In the early part of the week, Sami and Hepler masterminded the submission of label information and photographs of work to be exhibited, created a schedule of volunteers, and measured all exhibition spaces that were designated for the exhibition of paintings. Throughout the process, the guiding rule was, “Everyone helps” and the spirit of camraderie spurred many painting students to help in ways that they didn’t know would be necessary or even, that they had the requisite skills. Aaron Edwards learned to bend and crimp metal when he needed to fabricate hanging supports for his “Wolf” from flat metal rods. Tyler Giordano’s experience as a preparator resulted in professional results wherever he had a hand – precise and thoughtful installation. Emily Nelms, Mizuki Katakura, and Kate Phillips took charge of production and placement of labels, which was a very important task: if the labels are crooked, messy, or poorly placed, it would be like smeared lipstick on an otherwise well-put-together woman.

In preparing to install the work, one of the main considerations regarding which works would go where was determined by if the work needed to be on a white wall or if it would be shown to best advantage on one of the stone walls (or ‘antique’ walls, as Cedric says). He provided floor plans of each space and Hepler calculated that of approximately 180 linear meters, 120 were in spaces with white walls, and 60 were in spaces with antique walls. She made a sample layout on paper to make sure that key works by every painter could find an attractive space. As the plan developed, Cedric proposed solutions based on his experience with seven prior Vernissages. Paintings were to be exhibited in nine distinctly different exhibition spaces, some small and intimate such as Olivier 3, and others grand and imposing, such as the vaulted back gallery of the printmaking studios. Additionally, paintings were hung on existing nails in the antique walls of the village streets. (It turned out that these were prime places because guests could view the work passively. In more than one instance, a painting in the street helped a student to sell a painting that was on exhibit in one of the caves.) Ten paintings were exhibited on easels around the village to visually pull guests from one exhibition area to another. Throughout the entire process, Cedric Maros made suggestions and provided the means to help realize the very best possible Vernissage. For instance, this year he rented 20 metal grids to provide additional places to display artwork. Every one of the grids was utilized.

Placing work for best effect of the overall exhibition took patience, flexibility, innovation, coordination, and in the end, physical labor. Sami and Hepler worked hand-in-hand to see the exhibition through, including de-installation on the following day, when everyone learned to give, barter, or trade their works as well as how to safely remove paintings from stretcher bars. With such a big group of painters this quarter, Cave 2 has become a well-stocked ‘stretcher bar’ cave: it’s possible that future painters in Lacoste won’t need to buy a single stretcher bar.

Thank you, Sami and Hepler, for the time and care that you put into the success of the exhibition for everyone.


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