Monday, October 14, 2013

Be Careful What You Hope For . . .

    Or Good things do come to those who hope - with a little elbow grease. . .

Open Studios - 2013

When I last wrote, I was wondering if all the effort expended in participating in Pro Arts Open Studios would be worth it. Actually, I barely managed to make it happen as I was down for the count just 4 days before with what the emergency docs pronounced as a case of “mild pneumonia”. They sent me home with antibiotics and told me to stay in bed until the 103 degree fever broke and I got my energy back. I want to state right here and now that I could have never made Open Studios happen if it weren’t for my very good studio mates, Tyrell Collins and Suzanne Lacke, who not only helped me get my studio in “showtime” order at the last minute, but also afforded me a place to go and have a nap when I needed to during those long 11-6 days of “being on”. And then the extraordinary help I received from my dear husband and friends who took time to be with me from start to finish, and even took on the role of sales person when I was having a nap.

Who said “it takes a village”? Well, it took a village to get my studio open this year and I am forever grateful.

But when I wrote my only hope was that it would all be worth the effort, I never imagined what would come to pass. First of all, I’m delighted to say the work was well received. Even though we didn’t have very large crowds those two Open Studio days, many who came by, bought. After I tallied up the receipts and looked at my less bulging shelves at the end of the two days, I was very satisfied. Even though it was a monumental endeavor, how could I be anything but happy with the outcome?

That was in June.

Sometime in August, I got this email:

I was browsing through the Pro Arts Open Studio catalog, and came across your artwork. I have reviewed your website and would love to have some pieces for future exhibitions. I am in the process of opening a new fine art gallery in Alameda. I am interested in meeting you and discussing your work. Please email or telephone me at your earliest convenience.
Kind Regards, Gary Comoglio

This email from Gary Comoglio, started the wheels in motion, and stirred up the most amazing, affirming, exciting series of events I’ve had in a long time. After an hour studio visit, Gary picked 7 pieces to exhibit in his new gallery, the Gary Francis Fine Art Gallery in Alameda for a November/December exhibition called “The Art of Giving Art”. The reception is November 8 from 6-9 PM.

Check out his website:

Last Friday evening, I attended the Grand Opening of this beautiful space located in a very classy renovation of an old furniture store in Alameda. We happened to meet the owner of the building who is and should be quite proud of what he has done. Once you walk into what seems like a blend of the kind of alleyway you might find in New Orleans and/or Italy, you find yourself looking into the windows of one interesting storefront after another – a lovely women’s apparel shop, a cigar and European spirits store, an artists’ come-in-and-create-your-own art studio, to mention just a few, and then, of course, the Gary Francis Fine Art Gallery. It fits perfectly in this setting.

That's Gary on the right, looking mighty pleased.
The alleyway to the Gary Francis Fine Art Gallery
Now, feeling rather buoyed by having this new venue to show my work, I was encouraged to start thinking about other galleries where my work might be a good fit. 

So I took the leap and wrote to a gallery I’ve admired for years because of its specialization in Asian art, especially Japanese prints and pottery. Here’s how I put it:

I spent a remarkable month in 1976 with other potters on an intensive tour of ceramic artists in Japan, including Hamada, whom we met, and Shimaoka, whose work I collected and then a month touring on my own. Since then, I find my own artistic sensibilities have been influenced by the Japanese aesthetic.
My latest series of clay vessels have come out of my continued search for the beauty in imperfection, or Wabi Sabi.

And I included this particular piece to make my point:

China Dream - pinched/coiled/torn with Smokey Gray glaze & cobalt oxide

Sending this has resulted in a series of back and forth emails with the gallery owner, all of which have been, to my utter amazement and delight, quite positive. I’m looking forward to the possibility that my work will find its way into his marvelous gallery. When and if that happens, the loud scream you hear out over the Oakland hills will be mine! And, of course, I’ll then be able to tell you where else you might find my newest work.

So the lesson learned? Be very careful what you hope for. With a little (or a lot) of effort, it can result in more that you could have ever imagined.


Monday, April 29, 2013

Once again taking the Open Studio Leap . .

Or Just Another Excuse to Clean up the Workplace?. . . 

Right brain vs left brain

Sometime ago when I most assuredly was not in my right mind (or more likely having lost the memory of all the stress, hard work and angst that was bound to come), I agreed to join my good studio friend and artist, Tyrell Collins in participating in the Annual Pro Arts East Bay Open Studios this year.

When I had my studio in a separate building at our house in West Berkeley, I managed almost every other year to join the over 400 East Bay artists who most generously opened their doors to strangers and friends alike. There, I was on a virtual corridor of studios and so, more often than not, people came who had no idea about my work, what they were about to see or about me personally. I’ll never forget the woman with 6 year old in tow who came in from seeing my “Open Studio” sign on the corner of 8th Street and University on a Sunday and asked me, “What are you asking for it?” I wasn’t sure which piece she was interested in until she made it clear she was wondering what the rental price of my studio was!  Open Studio/Open House – same thing in her mind.

Opening my studio has always been an interesting ride, although exhausting. What I remember now very clearly is it usually took me about a month to clean and organize the studio in order to show the work in the best light and then another month to get the studio back into working order. And this was when I was a lot younger! This year I will be spending the next couple of weeks before opening on June 1 actually working on the pieces I hope to show. Hopefully, that will give me enough time to get the studio in “show” order. If not, at this point in my life, I’m getting more attuned to the attitude, “what is, is.”

But already, there has been a lot to do.  Once I decided to actually pay my Pro Arts dues and sign up, there was a list of dates to remember – a date for getting the digital image and studio info to Pro Arts so they could include it in their 64 page color directory; a date for getting the 16” piece I planned to install in the Pro Arts gallery for the month long exhibition; a date for posting 8 images on my personal online Pro Arts page along with my artist’s statement and resume; a personal deadline for getting postcards and any other marketing materials printed . . . and I’m sure I’m forgetting something else I’ve had to press myself into action to accomplish in the last few weeks.

All this, of course, on top of getting the work done. And not surprisingly, getting the work done is really all that makes me feel that I’ve accomplished anything whatsoever.

No wonder very few of the artists I know have little if any interest in marketing their work. It’s a matter of dusting off and revving up the less often used left sides of our brains. Which makes the case for my point  – not being in my right mind when I signed up for Open Studios.

My only hope is this momentary lapse will be worth the effort expended.

Maybe you should come to my studio on June 1 or 2  11 AM – 6 PM and see for yourself?