Monday, June 09, 2008

Recovery from the Open Studio, by that Obscenely Ambitious & Proactive Artist in Burlington, NC

Always true to form, I slept 3-4 hours the night before the open studio, and 4 hours the night before that. Some of the projects still did not get completed, but I was fairly happy with how things turned out. When the last people left, we made a big plate of food, did minimal food storage, then took a three hour nap (Kevin had slept only a few hours more than me). I will be photographing today, and posting pics tomorrow or the next day on Flicker. It is tempting to finish one or two of the projects before the virtual tour. I am feeling the potential of a migraine, so I have to act fast.

Mostly it was a great art party for the friends that I have already made here (most of whom had never seen my studio), though a few brave souls drove to Burlington to walk into the home of someone they had never met before, and that was a treat. I had gone out on a limb and basically invited all the art faculty from the regional universities and many of the people I know from my SE Fiber Arts Educators group.

Being a part of the Miami art community for 10 years, then moving to rural NC has been a difficult transition for me: I usually had a big party at the end of every semester, and my house would be packed, sometimes overflowing outside, with art grad students, a few undergrads, art & creative writing faculty and Miami artists... it would go till I kicked people out at 3 or 4. Less frequently, I would have open studios, and it would be a more professional enterprise, with art displayed everywhere and a table with resumes, reviews, catalogs, business cards, and a sign-in book to add to my mailing list. In Miami, the people I knew brought collectors and other artists, I always met lots of new people, sometimes sold work, and usually got a show in a university gallery or some other opportunity out of it. I know it can take a long time to establish yourself in a new art community, and I decided to be proactive.

I did the Open Studio thing here yesterday, and it felt absurd and weird, as if "one just doesn't do that" in these parts. I know that my invitations got a lot of people from the universities to visit my website and see my work, which was part of the goal. A few people emailed me and said they wanted to come but couldn't make it (some had seen the MAD museum show in NY), can we meet for coffee, etc., so I will be making some new contacts as a result of the invitations. But I am feeling like a fish out of water today. One of my guests, who was born and raised here, but spent 20 years living in CA, said "People from these parts keep you at arm's length until they know what to do with you, where in CA, they accept you until they decide what to do with you". I am off to continue the clean up and photograph...


Blogger libby said...

i moved from denver to the south 16 years ago. it took years to adjust to the culture (and the climate). but now i love the south more than i've ever loved any place, and north carolina is my favorite place on this planet.

the art world here, though, is very shy. i think nc artists, as a community, sometimes have a hard time being a community because the ideas of fine art and southern culture have been oil and water for generations (and this low self esteem spreads far beyond art).

the la's and nyc's of the world don't take places like nc very seriously, even though there's some truly amazing, original work here. but the isolation, i think, is often what makes some of the work so original, from music to writing and fine art.

it was literally breathtaking to see your art in person. thank you for inviting us into your home. i promise that even as we were awkwardly gazing at those giant, beautiful paintings, we were secretly thrilled to pieces.

you're a gracious hostess, and your cakes are almost as good as your work. :)

1:40 PM  
Blogger Kate said...

Hi Libby:

Thanks for your kind words and for making the trek to the open studio.

One of the benefits of being in a big city is having the opportunity to see exactly how the people you admire handle their careers. You can learn and follow suit (the Open Studio concept, for example, and seeing how bold you are required to be in other ways in order to succeed). But I agree with you on the appeal of idiosyncratic making far from the art centers... I often find it much more compelling.

11:57 AM  

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