Monday, September 25, 2006

7 reasons why I love the RCA secret sale

Here is a piece originally posted on the yahoo group by John MacMahon. Sums up I think how we all feel about RCA Secret.

My 7 reasons why I love the RCA Secret Sale.

1. Accessibility

The RCA Secret Sale is open to everybody, no exclusive opening, no pretentious setting, no worries about not having a clue about art, no need to pretend you know what you are looking at. No problems in looking at something and saying "yeah right, that'll be the last one to go". No Entry fee, No overzealous sales staff.

2. Making your list

I like the one with the dogs, but my wife likes the metal one with the ladder. Do I really like the blue one more than the red one? I think that would look really good in the living room next, no maybe the corridor is better. That one is terrible, but it might be Damien Hirst trying to disguise his work. But what if it isn't?.....

After a few times there, making your list is a lot of fun. If you want to have an idea who the work is by before you buy, or are looking for a particular artist famous or otherwise, then this can open up all sort of other possibilities (see last point).

3. Queuing

I can safely say that I have never met such a fun, friendly, yet diverse collection of people as I have while queuing for the postcards. The excitement builds as you'd expect, it's like a social game of poker, with everyone wanting to talk about the postcards, the artists, their desires, but all holding their book of numbers close to their chest. Its a great place to celebrate and discuss what you like about art. When I have brought a printout of all the cards, it has been the source for many last minute changes and re-re-prioritisatio n of lists. Lots of advice abounds, but people are often conscious of those in the queue ahead of you. Having said that advice trickles mostly down, but sometimes up the queue.

4. Sale Day

Here you are, cold, with nothing but Snickers, a Starbucks,and adrenaline holding you together. As the queue surges downstairs you cannot help but be nervous, clumsily checking you still have your credit card, and your 'Red marker of disappointment' as your go through the 'Argos meets Bingo' scenario of seeing your numbers being sold in front of you on the LCD Screens. As the queue progresses the numbers seem to go quicker to a stage where its no longer possible to keep up. Just when your list gets totally unmanageable you get to the front, give them your ID number and then GO!!!
"Do you have 1123?" …….."No."

"724?" ………......…………….."Yes!"

"Oh my God" you think, "I can't believe it. I'mgetting something that I want!!!!" Your excitement is overtaken by the desire to keep it moving, as you blurt out a list of numbers. But with Three down and one to go, you pause, reflect upon the numbers already called, and hesitate on the next number on your list. Why? Because the next card is a landscape and you already chose one of them becuase you didnt think you would get it? But you really wanted it up to 45 seconds ago, more than the next postcard of a pair of red shoes. Time is ticking; you feel the tension like you are the one that has to cut either the red or the blue wire to defuse a bomb. You make the decision, breathe a sigh of relief that's it all over, collect your receipt and try to find the energy to make it upstairs.

5. Turning Your Cards over

After swearing that you'd never ever queue again for anything, you are immediately thrust into another queue for one of the runners to collect your cards. At this stage indecision, regret, and confusion about what exactly you chose dominate your mind. But not for long, as I inevitably guide the runner to where the cards are in the gallery, (having had severalvisits to confirm their location). And then, after a signature the moment arrives. Any one of the following can happen up to four times…

Turnover (the one you thought wouldn't be there) …Yes! I am the King!!!

Turnover (the one your knew all along) …As expected, phew.

Turnover (the famous artist gamble) …Oh well, Another Fridge Magnet,

Turnover (the one of the red shoes) …Never heard of her, still lovely though!

6+7. Enjoyment + Much More

I'll put the last two reasons into one as they go hand in hand. I first went to RCA Secret thinking I would get lovely cards worth a fortune and some stuff like that. But what actually happened I didn't expect. I got interested! I wanted to get a card by Sol Lewitt, as his retrospective was on show in San Francisco when I visited in 2000 while on my honeymoon, and I thought it would be a nice memento for our home. So, I looked up Sol Lewitt up in Books and the web. I got to understand what his art was all about, and why his art was deemed worthy to make them an artist of note (something that the MoMA inSanFran failed to do).

At the RCA Secret, there is a lot of Conceptual/Abstract art on display, which I can't fully enjoy the without the knowledge of what it is about. So when I realised the postcard wasn't Sol LeWitt's, I instead looked up the artist I chose, and read about how she interprets Life experiences using Lines of Different Colours and layers. Not to say I am now a diehard fan of Colette Morey du Morand as a result, but I can enjoy my postcard for what it truly represents. And the whole experience inadvertedly opened my mind just a little more, to the world of art.....

.....Which would NEVER have happened thanks to RCA Secret. Hell, I didn't even know what the RCA was before I went to my first postcards sale!

So, Thanks RCA, thanks for making Art more accessible, affordable, for showing it for what is really is without names or prices, for organising a show that is fun to attend, has something for everyone, and a personal thanks for providing me with the only opening to the world of Art that has worked for me. See you soon!


JMM said...

Can't believe I wrote that five years ago.

More interesting hard to believe that if I had to rewrite it today, I wouldn't change a thing.

Anonymous said...

I love this blog entry. You sum it up. I am so excited for next Saturday! See you in the queue!