Monday, June 30, 2014

GOT ART? by Margaret Danielak - Exploring the Definition of Contemporary Art

Exploring the Definition of Contemporary Art

By Margaret Danielak  (c) 2007, 2014

What is the exact definition of the word “contemporary” in “contemporary art?”

Is it (1) art created by living artists, (2) modern art, (3) art created in modern times (since World War II), or simply (4) art that goes bump in the night?

According to my friend, a museum curator in Northern California, contemporary art is art of the present time. In other words, contemporary means "now."

In addition, he said, “the word contemporary does not refer to a particular school or style of art.” You can say contemporary realism, contemporary portraiture, contemporary landscapes, and the works will be contemporary only because you created them in the present time, obviating the need for the word “contemporary.” Saying your work is contemporary will not indicate that the pieces necessarily look like abstract expressionist works.

I asked one of the artists I represent what her definition was, and she said “contemporary art is art created by living artists.”  This sounded good to me.

Then I thought, what does WIKIEPEDIA, the online encyclopedia, say?

“The term contemporary art encompasses all art being done now. It tends to include any art made from around the 1960s to the present, or after the end of the modern art period. The use of the literal adjective "contemporary" to define this period in art history is due to the lack of any recognized or dominant form or genre of art as recognized by artists or art historians and critics."

So what does the Museum of Contemporary Art (MOCA) say on the subject? 

On their website, they claim that they exhibit art created since 1940.   They describe their mission, saying that  “MOCA identifies and supports the most significant and challenging art of its time, places it in historical context, and links the range of the visual arts to contemporary culture. MOCA provides leadership by actively fostering and presenting new work, emerging media, and original scholarship.”

Sounds reasonable, except I have been to their shows. Can’t say I’ve been aware of an over abundance of... representational artwork.

Another friend said “contemporary art is art that is expensive, inexplicable, and far out. It is art that requires one to sing songs and sling pudding on the walls.” (And yes, creating batches of chocolate pudding – and then throwing it on the walls - was indeed required of the gallery assistant who recently took over my friend’s job at a contemporary art gallery in New York).

After doing this research, I can say with conviction that contemporary art is art created since 1940, with a special emphasis on art created since 1960, by artists who may have died, unfortunately, while waiting for this definition to solidify in our culture. In addition, contemporary art is art created by living artists who may or may not be creating representational art, but are most definitely creating art that stimulates the senses, and perhaps even tastes good.

Bon Appetit!


Image Credits:
L Top: "Van Gogh's Irises" by living artist Linda French
Acrylic on Canvas

R Middle: "Shine" by living artist Julie Snyder
Oil on Board

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Business Tips for Artists: THE TOP TEN MOST EFFECTIVE WAYS TO PROMOTE YOUR ART by Margaret Danielak



By Margaret Danielak (c) 2013

1.    1.  Create a great looking business card with a sample of your work on it, and keep it with you at all times. You never know when you are going to meet your next client.

2.    2.  After meeting someone for the first time, be sure to obtain their contact information so you can follow up with them. 

3.    3.  Prepare an elevator speech, 15 to 30 seconds in length, which answers the question: WHAT DO YOU DO?

4.    4.  Maintain an updated website and/or blog featuring not only your art, but articles you’ve written and any awards you’ve won.  Make it clear what is for sale, what has sold, and where and how the client can buy the work. (i.e. a particular gallery)

5.    5.  Do not wait for potential clients to contact you. Create a system for staying in touch with your contacts through a monthly or weekly newsletter, regular Facebook post or blog feed. Reach out to your contacts regularly.

6.    6.  Join and participate in not only a professional art association or guild, but a chamber of commerce, cultural or volunteer organization.  Immediately, you will be plugged into a group of affluent potential buyers this way.  REMEMBER:  People do business with people they know.

7.    7.  Cultivate other creative professionals like architects, art consultants, curators, film makers, interior designers and the like.  They know a lot of people who both need and appreciate art.

8.    8.  Act as your own press agent. Market your work with press releases. 

9.     9.  Be friendly and both willing and able to have a conversation about a variety of topics and not just your art. Become someone others want to know.

       10.   Find out what your client likes and then give it to them even if it isn’t your artwork. It doesn’t hurt you to "pay it forward" and may secure you a referral fee. 

“The No. 1 secret to successful marketing is to choose a set of simple and effective marketing activities and do them consistently. Secret No. 2 is to choose those activities that best fit your personality, abilities and interests, because you are much more likely to do them consistently. Remember: The most carefully detailed marketing plan won’t work unless you make it real by putting it into action.” – Susan Urquhart-Brown.


THE AUTHOR: Margaret Danielak is an art rep, curator and author of the highly rated handbook for fine artists "A Gallery without Walls: Selling Art in Alternative Venues" which was a featured selection of North Light Book Club. Her website is

Thursday, May 8, 2014

Business Tips for Artists with Margaret Danielak

*Find the best gallery for your work
* Learn how to close a sale
*Learn how to promote your work with low cost 
The workshop includes a unique role-playing exercise where you get to practice selling your art in the non-threatening workshop environment.

Monday, April 7, 2014

American Indian Pottery Paintings: BIRD JAR, ZIA PUEBLO by Robert G. Stevens

Pueblo Pot Painting - "Bird Jar, Zia Pueblo"
Watercolor on Paper
19" x 26" 
$2,100.00 USDAvailable

"Bird Jar, Zia Pueblo" is one of a series  of seven watercolors by the late landscape painter Robert G. Stevens depicting the pots, pueblos and traditional headdresses of the indigenous people of the Southwest. Each native subject is set beautifully against a shaded sky. 

The artist carefully researched the history, culture and pots of each of the pueblos in order to create this unique series. The pot designs on each painting are the artist's adaptation of the work of a traditional native artist and not a copy.

Black frames and conservation framing were utilized to preserve the works each of which are the same size, creating a stunning impact when displayed as a group.  Offered individually or as a seven painting series by the artist's daughter, art rep and author, Margaret Danielak. 

To see the entire series visit

To learn more about the artist visit

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Feminist Tour of the Norton Simon Museum March 29

(Support Women Artists Now!)

Feminist Tour of The Norton Simon Museum
Saturday, March 29 
12:00 noon - 1:30 pm

Once again, I will be leading a small group on a tour of WOMEN MADE ART
at the Norton Simon Museum
411 W Colorado Blvd. in Pasadena
* SEE great works by women artists!

* HEAR my rousing account of Elizabeth Vigee-LeBrun's
dramatic escape from the Terror of the
French Revolution!

* LEARN about "The Six Degrees" of Berthe Morisot,
the only woman artist
invited to exhibit with the Impressionists! 

COST: $20.00 per person
(not including museum admission)

To reserve your spot today, send $20.00 to:
P.O. Box 91656
Pasadena, CA 91105