A Female Artist Tries (Hard) to Get Your Attention

Margaret Withers in her studio

This was an email that my artist friend Margaret Withers sent around to art critics recently, to get someone to pay attention to her recent show at Amos Eno Gallery in DUMBO.  The letter was sent to Jerry Salz, Roberta Smith, Michael Kimmerman, Peter Schejdahl and Laura Hoptman, among others. To date, no responses. I found the letter to be quite engaging, if a bit goofy. What do you think? Mistake or marketing must?
From: margaret withers <mwithers.artwork@gmail.com>
Date: December 18, 2010 4:07:10 PM EST
To: [redacted]
Subject: Can Roberta come out to play?


Dear Roberta, 

I dropped off the show catalog for “feeling untethered I laid down my
memories”, which is up right now at Amos Eno Gallery in DUMBO (111
Front St. #202 W-S 12-6, comes down on Thursday).

Do you remember as a child pretending to be a car or a space monster,
do you remember what being in that natural state of awareness felt
like? To be so focused on play that you don’t exist in the real and
physical world – you don’t hear your mom calling you, you forget that
you need to go pee, you don’t notice it’s getting dark and that your
hungry.  That other worldliness of feeling is what I’m trying to
communicate with my art. For example, in the painting, “Tip of the
tongue slandered by ears” there are 26 white clay heads attached to
the painting and floating off to the side. The “guy” is getting ready
to either munch on or spit out a sewn in pen and ink drawing of a
round floating fish like thing, and behind him is a large dark
hovering mass… what is going on?

Come out and play with me Roberta… come see my artwork.

Thank You Very Much,

Margaret Withers


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6 responses to “A Female Artist Tries (Hard) to Get Your Attention

  1. I will be interested to hear more.


  2. Bettina

    I think the problem is her subject line. As you know, I’m in publicity and marketing and try to get journalists’ attention all the time. Instead of wanting to be clever, she’ll be better off simply stating the facts in her subject line, the title of her show or anything else that makes it clear what it is. Journalists (and I’m sure art critics) get way too many emails for them to bother to open if they don’t know what it is. Also, the good old “when, where, why, how” still applies, too. Boring, yes, but most likely more effective.


  3. Dear Bettina,
    Thanks and great advise. This actually was the 3rd email I sent to this particular subset of press. The first was simply the press release via i-contact. The second was a simple reminder that the show was still up and asking them to please come by if they could (title of show in subject line, who, where, why in body – very PR looking).
    This was the 3rd email – and it apparently didn’t work – so any advise is grand. I almost got an editor (Carla) from n+1 to come by, she at least responded to my emails which was very nice of her and passed my information on to the Paper Monument editor, and if it wasn’t the holiday season maybe something would have come from it (one can hope).
    Within the last 6 months I’ve been trying a new approach with marketing my artwork by being more proactive and by applying business principles that I’ve learned from working in corporate America. Primarily, that being bold, brave and generous work with getting what you want. A lot of artist I know (and this is also how I used to think) act as if we are waiting to be discovered. Oh sure, we might move to NYC and rent an art studio, maybe go to a couple of openings, but that is the end of being proactive -we then sit and wait. We’re waiting for our own Peggy Guggenheim to stumble into our studio and proclaim that she loves our work, loves us and wants to put us in her Gallery. We simply do not live in that decade anymore. Period. If there was ever a career that needs a complete paradigm shift it’s being an artist. Because there are no more Peggy Guggenheim’s hanging out in some Paris bohemian enclave where artist are few, collectors are many, and everyone is brilliant. We are a world self-actualized, where we are no longer stigmatized by our career choices. 30,000 people graduate each year with MFA’s in plastic arts, all hoping to be discovered. This is my competition. Even more so since I don’t have an MFA. But what I do have, I’m trying to work to my advantage – pulling all the stops, trying everything… So we’ll see if it works. Check back with me in 5 years and I’ll let you know. ;~)


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