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The Best Gallery in the City-By Iona Drozda

Back in the saddle and rarin’ to go! I begin with a renewed commitment to write and to post, each Thursday…experiencing, expressing, creating and contributing to living the best art/life. Thank you so much for being here!
A brief rewind will set the stage…
I officially began my professional art career in 1980 when I had my first gallery sale…one hundred and eight paintings to one collector. Yes…really…108 completed works chosen on a Sunday morning…Easter morning by an exceptionally kind man, one of my earliest supporters.
Naturally the events leading up to this experience were the result of a series of deliberate actions.
Years earlier I had worked nights waiting tables and days on the restoration crew in a stately theatre across the avenue from ‘the best gallery in the city’. Many evenings as ‘Jacques Brel is Alive and Well and Living in Paris’ was being performed inside I would step outdoors into the evening air and stand under the extravagantly restored theater marquee with my co-workers on a smoke break. I would gazing dreamily across the busy main downtown avenue wondering if I would ever have the guts and the gumption to walk through the door of ‘the best gallery in the city’; a beautiful hallowed space filled with exceptional art.
After two years of harboring my vision I resigned from both jobs at the theater, moved to a quiet semi-rural area, planted a garden, got some chickens and embarked on a program for finding my voice, my style and the meaning that I felt compelled to express through making my marks on paper.
Following seven years of my hair on fire for my vision …‘suddenly’ …one day I noticed that my style was coming to meet me. I noticed that my impulse to express had birthed itself into itself and then came the da-da-da-da…desire to share.
I took a deep breath and went for a walk.
I lived without a phone. I walked the lane a few blocks to the phone booth across the street from the library.
This was going to take some nerve
The walk helped calm me. At the payphone I listened to multiple coins dropping into the metal box and then I carefully dialed the number of ‘the best gallery in the city’.
I was fueled by the idea that if I was going to be rejected I may as well start at the top.
I asked to speak with the gallery director. Yes, she would be happy to look at my work. The appointment was made.
Two weeks later I placed 12 sheets of 18 x 24″ 140# Arches paper, each a completed work, into the protected sleeve of my black presentation portfolio and zipped it up tight.
My boyfriend offers his beloved 1965 red Mustang convertible and I set off driving 30 miles to ‘the best gallery in the city’. I am on the verge of a panic attack as I pull open the heavy glass door making my way into the ‘inner sanctum’. I check in at the front desk and sit down. Thirty long minutes later I return to the receptionist…seems the gallery director double booked.
I drive home.
I walk to the payphone.
I drop coins into the metal box.
I call.
I reschedule.
Two weeks later the Mustang stops moving within miles of ‘the best gallery in the city’. I grab my portfolio and hail a taxi to take me the rest of the way. The director is welcoming, apologetic and completely real. I learn that day that she will always have the gift of putting me at ease.
With a very small window of time for her to view my work she spreads my paintings out on the carpeted gallery floor; there is a gallery talk scheduled within the same hour as my appointment and she seems genuinely interested in going beyond what’s needed when she asks if she can keep my portfolio and “show it to a couple of people.”
Next thing I know it’s Easter morning and my soon-to-be dear friend and benefactor is kneeling on my hardwood studio floor sifting through the large stack of paintings. I had been instructed by the director of ‘the best gallery in the city’ to “Let him look at everything. Don’t edit your work. Let him decide.”
One by one he sets a painting here and a painting there and one here and one there…I have no way of knowing what the piles represent to him but when he is finished he places his hand on one large stack and speaks to me for the first time beyond his initial hello, saying. “Call the gallery and have them draw up a contract. From this point forward I don’t want you to throw anything away. I don’t care if you’re visiting with friends at dinner and you draw on a napkin, I want ‘first right of refusal on everything you do’.”
Thus began my long and mutually beneficial relationship with ‘the best gallery in the city.’
This chapter awarded me a trajectory. I had focus and dedication and I still marvel at how situations and circumstances conspired to support my vision.
This week as part of my Third Thursday memoir series I’m moving back in time to honor my unconventional foundations…this includes my program ‘Having Lunch with the Masters’.
Iona Drozda

2 Responses to “The Best Gallery in the City-By Iona Drozda”

  1. Wonderful to join with you once again on Her Story Evolves Medea…
    your work is continually bringing that wonderful gift of what I like to refer to as ‘transforming wounds into wisdom’.
    I’m so happy to stand with you and for all of us moving forward with unstoppable momentum.

    • Medea says:

      The pleasure is mine, Donna! It is such an inspiration to be moving together forward unstoppable momentum!

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