Sunday, December 10, 2006

"Love your work.."

When doing a show, one of the biggest gripes I hear from my neighboring artists is the number of people who come into their booth and gush and "ooh" and "aaah" over their work, and then move along.
This is perfectly rational behavior, of course. It is impossible for someone to purchase work from each and every artist they admire at a show. This is even more true at some of the better shows. I could easily spend many thousands of dollars getting work from my fellow artists....if I had it. And that is the key. Few of us can buy everything we want. And even if we could....where would we put it all?
Yesterday, I went to the Open Studio event in Lowell, MA, where a friend has recently set up a studio space. We were very excited to see her new space. She was right next to a river, and the space was wonderful. After helping her set up, we went off to see the other artist's work.
Soon I found myself in the quandry. I knew both sides. I wanted to just look and enjoy seeing the work of some talented and wonderful artists. But,....each time I left the space, especially if I engaged in conversation, I was torn. Do I compliment them on their work? Or will that only frustrate them, because I am not buying anything? What is the graceful way to exit, and move on?
Well, I have not figured it out. I know first hand the struggle faced by each and every one of these creative people. There are many, many expenses associated with the work they are doing. Most not comprehended by the average consumer. And there is no better vote of confidence than a purchase. But the middle class is feeling a bit lower on the ladder these days. And there are only so many discretionary dollars out there.
But, I do try and buy one thing when I go to the few shows I visit as a consumer each year. One thing to place a vote with the audacious act each and every artist makes when they choose to sell their work. These days, it is often the work of another polymer clay artist whose work I admire, and who has drawn me to the show to begin with. The small purchases I make will not make or break a show for anyone. But it is like voting. Each vote in itself is meaningless. But the act itself is significant. Buying something from the artist. Supporting the world of American Craft, at a time that it desperately needs it.
As to the rest of you talented and wonderful artists I passed by, I am sorry. This time I can't. But don't let that stop you from doing what you need to do. Create. Put it out there. And then go make some more.

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