Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Feeling disrespected

You know how sometimes you're nibbled to death by ducks?  That's how I have felt the last couple of days.  Please indulge me in a bit of a whine (then I promise I'll shut up).

I've been fortunate to have work on display in several venues this month, both in print and in person.  But my pleasure and pride were dulled a bit by a bunch of little glitches that I took as disrespect.

You have to know that I am a person with a name and a nickname.  My name is Kathleen; my nickname is Kathy.  Hardly anybody calls me Kathleen in person; I use Kathy on the phone, in emails, and to sign personal letters.  But I use Kathleen as a byline for published work, in information when I teach, and on signs and printed material when my work is shown in public.  Or at least that's what I want to use.

Picky, yes, but is that really so hard to understand?  Robert Rauschenberg was Bob to his friends but the Museum of Modern Art had no trouble putting Robert on the signs.  (Actually his name was Milton, but that's another story.)

From past experience I know that the issue of my name can be problematic.  That's why, when I turned in my work to one recent show, I wrote in large red letters on the paperwork, "Please use my name as Kathleen Loomis on the signs and programs."  Did it work?  Nope.  The signs and the program said Kathy.

When I turned in my work for another show, I sent along a bio and a list of the quilts provided, both using Kathleen.  I knew the gallery director had consulted my website, which uses Kathleen.  Did it work?  Nope.  The press release said Kathy, and I suspect the signs do too (I haven't been able to visit the show yet).

At one of the shows I had an even more discouraging nibble from the ducks.  A friend visited the venue as the show was being hung and sent me a nice email with a couple of photos.  He thought the show looked great.  But when I looked at the photos, all I could see were a bunch of ugly clip-like things on the top edge of every one of the quilts.  What????

As tactfully as I could, I emailed the gallery director and said I was confused by the clips and hoped they were something temporary during the installation process and "it certainly isn't the way I would like to see them displayed."

She replied "I am sorry that you do not like the clips.  I will re hang the work."  She said the hooks on her hanging system were too big to go through the eyehooks on my sticks.

Did I detect a certain coolness in that response?  Maybe I'm just being crabby.

Then the coup de grace -- in the mail arrived a copy of a quilting magazine that I don't normally see, but had printed a feature story on several quilts in the SAQA Seasonal Palette exhibit.  They did get my name right, but here's how they depicted my quilt:

Any one of these petty slights by itself might not have bothered me too much, but four in one week got kind of old.  Quack, quack.


  1. Well, it certainly looks like 'someone' better get their 'ducks in a row'! I can see where all of this occurring in one week would get you quacking! Maybe change your name on your artwork to 'Kathy' and future exhibits/etc. will use Kathleen! Drives you crazy when folks just don't listen/read!

  2. Oh, oh! When I entered our piece, "Brown Planet, a Collaboration" into Houston, I put down your name as Kathy. Sorry! If it gets accepted I will see if it can be changed.

    BTW the exhibit look fabulous, with or without clips.

  3. Congratulations on having your work out in the world! I do understand and commiserate with you on the name issue. I don't have a nickname but people have to pay attention to spell my name correctly. They also have to reframe from shortening my last name which they often do and then misspell that! Attention to detail is the only solution for this particular issue. The clips are a different story altogether. I can not understand why a gallery which looked very nice otherwise would resort to this resolution to their problem. Many of the hanging systems are very limited as to how they work but no venue I've worked with has resorted to metal clips to get the job done. Better luck next time.

  4. Would it help to tell the venue they spelled your name wrong. It is Kathleen not Kathy. Maybe that would make your point better.

    1. I did, and they changed the signs. The other venue said they would, but I haven't checked up on them yet.

    2. Perhaps redoing the signs will make the venues more attentive to detail for future exhibits. Good for you for asking them to fix them. Unfortunately, I can relate to the photo overlap--they did that to my quilt in a local quilt exhibition--overlapped a friend's quilt and mine to fit them on the same wall--they were both "art quilts" so it made sense?! Neither of us will be entering the show again.

    3. Overlapping a photo is one thing -- overlapping a quilt is several continents worse. I hope you told them to take your quilt down immediately!

  5. News flash: this afternoon I visited the venue where they told me they would change my name on the signs. They hadn't (this is now eight days since I asked them to correct it).

    I conferred with some other artists in my group and they agreed it would be OK to cross out the wrong name and write in the correct name on the signs. So I did.