In Which I Find My Art Reception Mojo

Liz Crain and Homefire1957 sculpture

 

I have kvetched about attending art receptions on these pages before. They are a regular occurrence in my world, though, and I have longed for a way to feel more comfortable about them. I have gone early and left early, gone late and left early, gone late and stayed to help with clean-up, volunteered to greet or serve, and even brazenly – or more commonly, guiltily – skipped them. Nothing satisfied.

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Art Reception Food

June is a good month for outdoor arts events and receptions and I have been to plenty of them in only the past few weeks: First Friday in Santa Cruz, The Santa Cruz Art League’s 90th Anniversary weekend, Capitola’s Art at the Beach, and two sponsored by the Pajaro Valley Art Council of Watsonville, both devoted to sculpture: one in the gallery and one of garden sculpture at nearby Sierra Azul Nursery. (And I am honored to be included in both of their exhibits.)

I am not a veteran of the art opening reception circuit, because they were always an acquired skill in my book; one I just had no compelling need for. First off, an artist makes art, and I have been way too distracted by that alone for decades now. And, while I have looked at plenty of art in plenty of cities, visited artists, attended salons and dutifully read my art history and biography books, I kept forgetting to get to the Openings.

What I have learned by steeling myself and actually showing up at these functions (rather than taking the introvert’s way out and being ‘busy’) is they are only very subtly about the Art. HA! I knew it! They are really about people getting slicked up and celebrating themselves. Food, Drink and Music are always involved. The Art attends and then just sits mutely in the corner, avoiding the crush and watching the avocado dip turn black (as Dick Cavett once said he generally did.)

Depending on the venue, the reception food and drink can either be for purchase, totally or partially catered, sponsored by varying donors/advertisers, or even consist of a potluck brought by the artists themselves. Sometimes it is a combination of them.

Well, when I signed up to bring sushi to last Sunday’s mostly-potluck reception, I really intended to bring honest-to-goodness California Rolls. They are not expensive and it’s possible to whip out a huge trayful in no time. But it is so done. So when I Stumbled Upon (and it looks like you’re getting lots of sites to click over to in this post) a blog about a kid’s birthday party where both the activity and the party favors were faux sushi made from Kellogg’s Rice Krispie Treats (and I probably should add “TM” after that and all the rest of the ingredients) which are then rolled around Pull-n-Peel Twizzlers, Rainbow Twists, Gummi Worms and wrapped in Tropical Tie-Dye Fruit Roll-ups, I was enchanted and immediately changed my offering. It was still “sushi” right?

Be honest, were you fooled by the photo up top? Or did it look a little garishly photoshopped, even though it is not? (And you should see it when it is posterized, highly saturated, extremely hued and contrasted! Positively bilious.)

A platter of Faux Sushi is a sticky sticky sticky affair to manage, but pretty in a Red 40, Blue 1, Yellow 6 and Yellow 5 sort of way. If you have extra lumps of RKT mix you can make the nigiri with Swedish Fish wrapped to the top, as in the foreground. Not surprisingly, they tasted really sweet, too. One almost needs to wash them down with Fruit Punch, for the full kid’s birthday party effect.

So, how did they go over? I thought they were an artsy party funfood offering, but I don’t really know. I arrived with the early crowd, set them on the dessert table and never went back. I spent more time looking at the art, talking to friends and associates, and moving away from the too-piercing flute of the live jazz band to find out.

Rare Earth Indeed

Eight Ceramic Prairie Dogs in Rainbow colors by Kari Rives
“Prairie Rainbow” by Kari Rives

I popped into the newly opened “Rare Earth: National Ceramics Exhibition” currently open in the Cabrillo Gallery in Aptos today. And I got wowed! Without a lot of interpretive yak, I thought to simply share with you a smidge what I saw that was new and exciting. And I do mean smidge as there are another few visits-worth needed in order to let the great range of work percolate through.

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The Party’s Over, Time to Go HO…

Ladder with beer in front of wall title being de-installed

 

The HOME Exhibit at the Pajaro Valley Arts Gallery just closed. Everybody’s pieces are going home – some to new ones. I have written about this exhibit for the past six weeks: the drop-off, its reception, three of the most compelling pieces in it, and my artwork in depth. (All the links you need are below.) We will close this Summer Blog-a-thon too, with a tiny glimpse of striking the set and beginning the new production. Over is OVER, as the deconstructed title wall serendipitously demonstrated when I showed up to get my piece.

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Being A Social Artist

Social Media Marketing for Dummies Book Cover

Oh, my, such a lot to explore here, but I will try hard to stick to my major idea: For me the idea of being a Social Artist who Markets Her Work means attempting to be a living oxymoron. I just don’t resonate with it.

Or didn’t. Or I’m a work in progress, learning to live the BOTH/AND instead of the EITHER/OR. Nowadays I find it interesting to ‘put on my Big Girl Panties’ [my new favorite saying from this summer] and get myself out there, even if I concurrently break out in metaphorical hives.

This unnatural, learned behavior was hatched in October 2008 when I ran across Alyson Stanfield’s Art Biz Coach site and book, I’d Rather Be In the Studio! The Artist’s No-Excuse Guide to Self-Promotion.

Fast forward to the present, having collected Alyson’s wisdom through her book, artbizconnectionsalon, online classes, blog and website, phone sessions and even a couple of live workshops she happened to conduct in Northern CA (lucky me!) I – who couldn’t make an attachment to an e-mail back then – now find myself blogging, chatting, friending, following, tweeting, linking, posting, commenting, messaging, convo-ing, listing and re-listing IN ADDITION to making art and more art, entering exhibits, opening my studio, contacting galleries, joining art associations, attending receptions, and in general authentically livin’ the dream I dreamed my whole adult life. The mysterious other things that artists do out in the Art World have been revealed…they are just not exactly what I thought they would be and I am learning to pick and choose.

The Isolationist INTJ me still gets plenty of solace and creative communing one-on-one with my Muses, of that I make sure. But I have come of artistic age in a new time when the gallery walls are transparent, the artist’s rep looks a lot like me and I have the virtual means with which to share my artistic entirety – images, words and connections – in a way that strangely suits me.

There are no longer Gatekeepers: we know our fans and collectors and they know us. We expect it. Though I sit here and you there, you, dear Reader, are a real person! You can talk back to me, you can tell others, and so it goes virally along.

Being a Social Artist, even one who Markets (read: SHARES, and thanks, Alyson,) isn’t quite the oxymoronic existence I once felt it to be, and even if I have my reluctant moments, I have definitely learned how rewarding it is dive in the pool and play.

Home Again, Home Again Jiggity-Jig

 

Ceramic Incinerator Boxed and Buckled Into A Seatbelt

 

The HOME Exhibit at the Pajaro Valley Arts Gallery has closed. After almost seven weeks away,  my “Homefire 1957” incinerator piece is coming home.

When it’s in transit, I have learned to handle my work myself whenever possible. (Here’s one sad, sad example of why.) I figure if I break it, I am pre-forgiven. Others, they feel terrible all by themselves and I can’t assuage it! Consequently, I am glad for any nearby opportunities to show my stuff because I can deliver and pick up in person. If I have a driver, I hold pieces on my lap, but when I drive, I need to either fully pad and pack pieces in a lidded container or buckle them in thusly.

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Apparently Space Stinks

 

ceramic incinerator side with sgraffito of incinerator, smoke and latin phrases

 

After one gets over the news that it smells bad, it looks like the odor of Outer Space is hard to pin down. It’s reportedly a bit like burnt metal, welding fumes and seared steak. Acrid but slightly sweet; sulphurous and undeniable. The astronauts’ suits and gear, upon returning from space walks, stunk like they’d been camping at a celestial tire fire. It was such an unlikely surprise.

But at one time so was the discovery that smoke from earthly tire fires, oil refineries, automobiles and backyard incinerators probably was to blame for the continually bad air.

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