Thursday, March 12, 2009

Meeting and Greeting.
Learning and Teaching.
Doing a demo at the Museum of Contemporary Craft.

This month, one of my Season’s series sculptures, ‘Spring’, is part of the March community showcase at the Museum of Contemporary Craft. As part of Portland Open Studios Tour showcase, I was asked to do a demonstration of my sculpture process for visitors to the Museum.

So Saturday, I packed up some small pieces of aluminum mesh and some examples of the finished process and headed over to the Museum. I was looking forward to it for many reasons. One, I really like doing the demo. It’s fun.

And this time, it was even more fun, because I was there with three other artists from the Portland Open Studios Tour; Bonnie Meltzer, Wendy Dunder and Careen Stoll. We all do very different work. Bonnie crochets copper wire. Wendy makes lamps with tissue paper and paint. Careen throws pots but on this day, she was making a pinch pot. And although, I’ve used wire, tissue, matte medium and clay, I’ve never used like they do. So for me, it was an opportunity to learn from watching their demos just like the other visitors. And I got a chance to talk shop with co-workers in the same line of work.

It was also a chance to meet and greet people from all over the city and country who love art. They wandered through the museum, took in our art showcase and came up to our demo tables. They asked questions about what we do and how we do it. We told them about our art, each other and the Studio Tour that brought us all together.

Portland Open Studios Tour has been a wonderful experience for me. It all started last year, when I timidly filled out the application and sent in my fee. I didn’t know whether I’d be accepted or not. I tried not to think about it. But when I found out I’d been accepted, I was elated and scared.

Because, now, I’d be opening up my home for two days, two weekends in a row, to people from around the city and country to watch me in my studio do my art work. As a solo studio artist, this seemed overwhelming and terrifying.

I did it anyway. And I’m so glad I did. I met six other artists who lived in my own neighborhood as well as many other artists in the Portland area who participated in the tour. As part of the tour volunteer requirements, I got the chance to interview and write about other tour artists. It was a wonderful, eye-opening experience to peer over the shoulders of other artists as they work and ask questions about their process. I learned about stone carving, printmaking, weaving, bead sculpture, pastels and European egg painting. It was so much fun. And that was all before the tour even started.

The tour came and went with surprising ease. I had so many wonderful, interesting people visit me. I learned more about myself and my art through the process of sharing it with others. One couple donated their kiln to me. Sure, I sold art work. But the biggest benefit for me was doing the demonstrations for the visitors, explaining what I do, how I do it, answering their questions and listening to their stories about their own art experiences.

Before this wonderful experience, I never would’ve pictured myself doing art demos for people at a museum or in my own studio. But that’s what’s great about trying something new, isn’t it? I may have taught others about my work, but I learned so many new things about myself, about other artists and about my community.


Susan J Tweit said...

What a lovely post! It's a treat to experience your work as you open yourself to new experiences and find new audiences. Congratulations on finding your art and finding the courage to put it out in the world! And what's the story behind that wonderful sculpture in the bottom photo?

Susan GT said...

Hi Susan,
Thanks! It's so nice to be 'accepted' by so many other artists, like yourself. It's really opened my eyes to the generosity of the world and shattered many of my old assumptions. The sculpture at the bottom is from my Season's series, 'Spring'. It's in the exhibit case in the far right corner, in first and second photos, too, but there are people looking at the art in the case so, you couldn't see it clearly.