This little wall sculpture was the first of a series of quite a few small wall sculptures I made in the early to middle 1980s. I had a wall full of these and they looked good! Good enough that Kauffman Gallery decided to accept me into their “stable” as some galleries call their artists. I’ve never been too fond of that term, but I do love horses 🙂
Be that as it may, It was late 1984 and I had quite a few of the little wall sculptures finished. I thought they looked strong – a solid direction to present to a gallery. And life was pressing in on us. Things back home were not good. My parents were going through it and every time ET phoned home the news seemed worse. Bad for them, but sort of a sword dangling over my head to work my tail off to present to art galleries. Why my parent’s plight affected me directly like it did I’m not entirely sure. My existential artist plight was drenched in family drama at that time.
So, I got up my nerve and called a gallery (big deal for me). She seemed to like my work but informed me the next day that my work was not a fit. I was disappointed but it was only the first gallery I’d called, so… I recovered quickly and in a day or two called the director of Kauffman gallery – which I felt drawn to already. I’d attended shows there and (years before) hoped someday I would show my work in their attractive gallery space.
The Kauffman director, Leigh Smitherman, caught me off guard. I asked if I could show her my work and heard, “Sure, do you want to come in today?” This was such a surprise to me I fumbled around and said, No, I can’t today, but tomorrow is good (what a big artist dummy I was…).
The next day, I arrived at the gallery with my little sculptures in a cardboard box. haha What a presentation. I was a few minutes early, so I pretended to look at the art on the walls, but, yes, that’s what I was doing. A few minutes passed and she came in – but I didn’t know it was Leigh.
She saw my box of art first and said, “Oh these must be Robert Terrell’s pieces! I LOVE THEM!” That was one of the best reviews I EVER HAD. I think I said, I’m really glad you like them, and then told her I was the man! haha We looked at the ones I brought – I think about 8 of them. I told her how I made them and what they meant to me.
She told me the gallery voted on new artists that coming Friday, so I had to wait a couple of days to find out if they were interested. From her opening comments and our conversation I was hopeful but still I didn’t want to get my hopes up too high. You never know. She was not the gallery owner. But, like I said, I’d wanted to be in their gallery for a long time 🙂
Friday came and I called (I think I did the calling). Leigh told me I’d gotten a thumbs up from the gallery committee, and that such great news – it was the beginning of my new life at age 31!! They started hanging my art, including some larger pieces (I will post photos of a couple of them).
The first month with the gallery I sold two pieces for about $750 and $500 so I did the only rational thing – I quit my pretty good job at Texas Art Supply. And, No… that wasn’t the best idea I ever had.
My wife and I began eating more potatoes than usual.
My joining the gallery was still such a good experience for me… I finally felt like I’d achieved a real artist goal. Now other artists had a reason not to like me (they thought) – and some of them did seem to have some issues. They had more Houston connections, they had more art schooling…. oh well.
Even after all these years, I still look back to that afternoon. “Are these Robert Terrell’s pieces, I love them!”
You can see several of the little wall sculptures here on my art website: Little Wall Sculptures by Robert L Terrell