As I was working on this Deer Mouse I couldn't help but think of Remy from Pixar's Ratatouille even thought he's a rat, not a mouse. When we lived on a farm in Saskatchewan for a year, we were warned to keep our children away from them as they are major carriers of disease and though I wasn't thrilled about that I still I tend to think of them more as ambitious and busy little creatures.
Mouse as a totem animal accomplishes much with little, placing his trust in his Creator. He pays attention to detail but reminds us not to over-analyze everything and to remember that we are all part of a bigger picture. Focus in order to achieve big things by finishing up little things. A good harbinger, I think.
And so ARTember begins by hanging work together with Char Vanderhorst at Highland Primary Care Network. It's a big, beautiful new space so we each were able to hang ten large pieces...and I'm so pleased that they want to continue to support the local arts community in this way after this season has passed. I can't believe we both brought poplars (mine are in the middle)! Tonite I'll also be joining the Advocates of the Airdrie Public Library for a meeting as their goal is to create a film festival in Airdrie, and anything to do with creating a well-rounded art society in our fair city is right up my alley.
The next two Tuesdays I'll be hosting Movies that Matter at City Hall at noon, first is 'Dare to Dream' about a group of high school students near Edmonton who created a feature length movie followed with a talk by local producer Rob Ing. The second is 'Smitten' about a fellow in California who supported emerging artists by collecting hundreds of works which he shares with the general public. Both so inspiring.
Next Wednesday I'll be attending a Lunch'n'Learn offered by the City of Airdrie about the value of Art & Culture in society and then 7pm at the library is a small Spoken Word Festival held by the Writers' Club.
On Saturday local artist Samreen Junaid will be teaching a Jr Artists' Workshop on the art of henna and in the evening I'll be attending the 4th annual AIRdirondack Gala.
On Thursday, September 26 I'll be assisting with children's author/illustrator Georgia Graham's kids' workshop and on the 27th the library is hosting a writers' workshop with local author Ellen Kelly.
Besides all of this, I am still involved in other personal endeavors as well as working regular shifts at the library so I'm glad not to have to work every day for the duration of ARTember like I have in the past two years. I'm also grateful to be working in conjunction with City Hall and with the support of the local ARTS Society, Creative Airdrie Society and the Advocates...it all makes my job much simpler and definitely more enjoyable.
Though it doesn't look like it, I am preparing for two exhibits this fall...well, one is a market and the other a group exhibit in Ontario. I have been working, but sometimes need a break, and what do I do for a break? Paint, of course!
Previously I exhibited at the annual Calyx market which was amazing but falls on the same weekend as my Jr Artist Program at the library so this year I was excited to be invited to take part in Handmade Here which takes place in Calgary November 23+24 and also an exhibit at AyrSpace Gallery in Ontario. Very excited for both.
The adirondack chair I painted last year began with warm colours (red, yellow, orange) so I thought I'd begin this one with cools...all variations of blue - royal, turquoise and a tealy-green/blue. And seeing this photo I realized that I even colour-coordinated with the chair, both in clothing and jewellery...very interesting. I'm certain there is a psychological explanation for this, but I tend to believe it's just because I love blue...every single variation of it. Oh...and every other colour, too.
Gallery representation can be tricky but I've also found that it can lead to some of the best symbiotic relationships both as an artist and as a human being. I totally believe that my greatest successes come from working in community with others and the artist/gallery relationship is one of those collaborations.
Initially, when I began exhibiting publicly I was under the impression that once you had gallery representation that was it, you hit the big time as an artist. It didn't take long to realize that even if you are connected to and believe in what you create and a gallery director feels the same, the general public, or the clients they represent may not feel the same. I have also learned that spending money on marketing and exhibition space probably won't solve this problem, it will just cost you money. So I always advise artists not to invest whatever they're not comfortable letting go of.
At the same time, I really do believe that if you are committed to what you do, and believe in it, love it whole-heartedly, there are others out there who will love it, too. And, looking around at all the arts, really at everything that we do as people in this world, there is never a time to sit back and revel in the never-ending rewards. The amount of time and effort that is put into the work will be reaped somehow at some point.
If you are interested in gallery representation, here is a little advice that I wish I would have received early on in my career...
Visit the space (or if it is far away, visit the online space). Your work should fit but not compete with the rest of the work in the venue. For example, my work consists of contemporary acrylics on stretched and unframed canvas so I wouldn't contact a gallery that deals in photography, printmaking or traditional framed works.
Get to know the director and staff. Do they speak your language? Do they connect with the art and artists the way you'd like? Do they represent their artists the way you would want to be represented? If all goes well this could be a long-term relationship so you should be able to communicate well. I consider the directors and staff of the galleries I have the privilege of working with as friends...really, really great, inspiring, lovely friends.
Introduce yourself and your work to the gallery. Be professional and succinct but be yourself. Take into consideration that they are busy and are contacted my numerous artists but also remember that this is a two-sided relationship. You are interviewing the gallery as much as they are interviewing you.
Remember that it takes two (or more) to accomplish great things. Don't expect the gallery to do all the work...share information about them as much as they share information about you. Not just about your exhibit, but also about the other artists they represent. I totally believe in karma, whatever you put out there eventually comes back. If my work isn't the right fit for someone, perhaps another artist whom I have the privilege of exhibiting with may just have the piece of someone's dreams.
Finally, trust your gut, your intuition. You'll know if this is a good fit for you. Also, trust that if it's not meant to be, there will be something for you out there...there always is.
Typically artists pay for shipping to a gallery and the gallery pays return shipping, but make sure to ask so that everyone is on the same page.
Once you have a commitment to exhibit your work, even in a public venue like a coffee shop, make sure to come prepared with all work wired and ready to hang. Don't take up too much time or space and be considerate and kind.
Number 36 of the 52 Weeks Project was fun and as it's been a rainy weekend, which is perfect for painting, I was reminded of the Wood Frogs I grew up with in northern Manitoba. For many field trips in school we would walk through the bush to the pond near Mikanik Bay (Algonqkian for 'turtle') and learn about the amphibians growing there...one being the wood frog. It was fun to go at different times to see the tadpoles and then watch them full grown.
I've never forgotten that they absorb pollutants through their skin...growing up in the north, surrounded by nature and wildlife, was the catalyst for my belief in being careful with everything around us. Sometimes I find it difficult to live in a place that is growing by leaps and bounds, where the highway that intersects my community is one of the busiest in my country. But I am also grateful to live so near to Canada's oldest National Park.
As a totem animal, frogs represent renewal and refreshment. Because of their high sensitivity to their environment, frogs are a great indicator of what's happening ecologically. They are also highly adaptive with a propensity to live in community which is a great example for us all. As agents of change and healing, they remind us that transformation, renewal and evolution is always positive.
Illustrations & Pottery