Each month, one thing becomes obvious as the evening progresses and it is that for most of our visitors, this is a new experience. Yes, we have a few “regulars” who stop by to see what’s new (which we love!), but by and large, people are either finding us online or spontaneously dropping in. The colorful signs on easels in front of the building do a good job of attracting more and more out of town guests. In the lobby, guests pick up a program and take the elevator to the floor of their choice. The elevator ride alone is worth the trip-one of the last manually operated elevators in the city! It is suggested that visitors start on the 10th floor, where a plaque is posted outside of the studio once occupied by Frank Lloyd Wright, and work their way down the stairs. The list of participants changes month to month and no two months are ever the same.
Like most people, I, too, am somewhat intimidated entering a gallery or art fair booth. Am I expected to buy something or can I just browse and look at the art at my leisure? Unlike some galleries I have been in, I think my studio mates and I do a pretty good job of warmly welcoming people into our shared space. It is, after all, our personal space-where we plan and work. It’s where we spend many of our waking hours. The relaxed atmosphere surprises many but before long, conversations are flowing.
Because we clean up pretty well once a month, our space may look a little more like a gallery. Work is displayed around the room and we prepare ourselves for “company”. We occasionally get some visitors who stride in, pour themselves a glass of wine and stroll out-without a word of response to being greeted-barely glancing at the art. Thankfully, that is rare. I enjoy talking to visitors, explaining the process and doing spontaneous demonstrations. Participating studios (artists, musicians, dance, voice, theater, yoga, a book store and a paperweight gallery) seem to have a similar approach- I often see guests laughing and lingering til closing as I make my way around the building.
While all artists seek to make a living with their work, my reason for participating in Open Studios is to engage people in conversation while exposing them to new ideas. Also, as I work alone most days, the feedback is quite valuable.
So, do stop by sometime...quietly look at the art or we can chat a bit. I would love to see you.
“Only connect”.... E.M. Forster