I think a lot of this comes down to clear and strong themes which are followed through to create a body of work.
As an example I was stunned to see a photograph very very similar to some of my family snaps as a finalist in one of those major art prizes a few years back. The guy had a theme which was about his Dad, an Irish man who was often a bit drunk, sometimes a bit shambolic, sometimes very funny and this came across in the images. What struck me though was two things, firstly I never thought of using snaps of my Dad when a bit drunk as a theme, secondly I certainly never thought of then weaving together a set of such pictures for public display as a form of art. So yes 100% could have but I didn't.
I did find seeing those images inspiring though to come up with some of my own themes with a tight clear vision of what I am trying to achieve with them right from the subject through the processing. The problem now though is that one such theme I started, started with 2 images very quickly but hasn't progressed in about 18 months. I guess its much harder than it sounds or looks than as a bunch of words talking about doing it.
To the question who is the right person to get that work in front of... I think that would be someone like Maris.
I wonder how many of the people who bitch about this stuff actually studied art and/or art history. Someone brought up Mondrian. He paid his dues.
One doesn't have to have undertaken academic study to recognise or understand what's going on in "modern art"; an open mind, however, is an absolute pre-requisite
It does help to have some knowledge. Marketing and luck were, are, and always will be important in the art world. But targets should perhaps still be chosen a little more carefully by the average windbag who fancies himself a great undiscovered or misunderstood talent.
They say hindsight is 20/20. The biggest mistake I made when I got into the photo/studio business was spending way to much time and effort on being good at "the craft". What I learned the hard way is that that is what hobbyists do. It is also why IMO many hobbyists do technically better photography that many pros.
What pros who are serious about making a living the business of photography do (actually what people in any business that requires active sales does) is spend most of their time and effort schmoozing/doing marketing/finding new work. They are almost always in marketing and sales mode.
By most here I mean somewhere close to 80%, number comes from business coaches not me. When I applied this rule I was successful, when I didn't I wasn't.
Successful photographers/sales people will spend 7-8 hours a day talking with clients, calling galleries, going to openings, wedding shows, asking for referrals, following up leads, blah, blah, blah. The other 2-3 hours a day would be spent doing the books, the banking, the bills, and getting in a bit of shooting and printing.
So for a guy that goes out for a weekend and spends say 16 hours traipsing around shooting landscapes then spends another 16 hours the next weekend making some really nice prints it is not unreasonable to think or expect that is should take another 128 hours of work (the next 8 weekends at 16 hours per weekend) marketing to actually get those prints sold.
As for the landscape thing. Lots of people shoot landscapes and some absolutely incredible ones. But are there really many people sitting there with their checkbooks out, dying to buy them. To be successful you also have to know/understand that what you create, needs to have a market.
That's the number one lesson to be learned in photography. Does this incredible street shot, landscape, slice of life picture, have a market. And does this incredibly cute picture I took of kid, can I duplicate that every other day with hundreds of other kids.
And if the answer is yes, can I market it and make real money off it.