As art exhibits in the Phoenix area extend beyond the traditional gallery setting, with more and more works being displayed in restaurants, bars, coffee shops, and other “third place” businesses, the role of the artwork itself is also changing.

 In galleries, art is the focus. In these new settings, it’s considered part of the ambience and can fall into the role of being comforting background scenery.

Carly's Bistro featuring artwork by Abe Zucca. Photo by Haley Ritter.

Carly’s Bistro, featuring artwork by Abe Zucca. Photo by Haley Ritter.

To help elevate the art, and draw more attention to what’s being displayed in these arts-supporting local businesses, here are eight questions artists should ask (and steps businesses can take, if not done already) when it comes to highlighting a show on display:

1. Does the business promote its art exhibits on the same social media platforms it uses to promote food, drink, and other aspects of its business? If yes, are exhibits promoted in advance of the opening date, and then mentioned at regular intervals during the show’s run?

2. Is there clear in-real-life signage inside the business itself, detailing the exhibit, displayed in a prominent place where it’ll be seen by customers? If yes, does that “show announcement” sign include: Artist’s name, title of show (if it has a title), dates of exhibit run, whom to talk to (on staff) to purchase the work, online (social media) contact info of the artist, etc?

3. Is exhibit (and artist) information displayed on the business’s website, and updated with each show?

4. Does the business provide the labels (with artist name, title of piece, medium, price, and @artist info listed) to be displayed next to each piece of artwork? Alternately, is it the artist’s responsibility to provide these completed labels at the same time they deliver the artwork on-site to be hung?

5. Are customers encouraged to, or discouraged from, taking selfies with the artwork? If selfies are taken, are both @businessname AND @artistname available and displayed, so both can be tagged/linked via social media if shared online?

6. Does the business host an opening reception, artist meet-and-greet, or similar exhibit/artist-focused event(s) during the art exhibit run?

7. Is there one person on staff who coordinates items #1-6, communicating with the artist on all items listed? If various item responsibilities are split among staff, can the artist be provided with a list of these team members, noting item(s) each is responsible for, and include their direct contact information? This way, any questions or concerns that arise (whether from the artist or staff) can be addressed directly, and in the most timely manner, during the run of an exhibit.

8. When is the artist paid for works sold, and what percentage of sales does the artist receive? Agreement on this point, in advance, is an important step in mounting a successful show.

With “third place” businesses and artists increasingly collaborating to bring PHX art to the public, but promotion and display-identification efforts varying greatly from place to place, now is the time to set a PHX community standard, with the above list being a good start in accomplishing that goal. Creatively speaking, the results will undoubtedly be mutually beneficial.