After holing up in my toasty warm studio for what seems like months, I ventured out this weekend to hang with my fellow artists.
Claiming a table at the Blue Moon Coffee Shop in Hastings, it was a great afternoon spent laughing with and supporting fellow travelers on the artistic path. To bring focus to the conversation, we call ourselves the MidNebraska Arts Alliance, a group of professionally minded painters, photographers and sculptors devoted to growing as artists and business people.
Being a studio artist of any variety is lonely business. Most of us serve as creator, business manager, marketing agent and laundry queen (or king). What ever it is that we create is done solo, with all decisions being ours. When it works, it's a heady experience. When it doesn't, or when we're not certain which direction to take, it's like being in a small rowboat on a big sea. With a hole in our paddle. And a breeze coming up. A shark fin on the horizon. And...you get the idea.
Having a small cadre of folks who speak the same language and have the same worries, successes, predicaments or desires is important for for us soloists. Handsome Husband is my biggest supporter, hands down. And when I start speaking of a new creative vision, or analyzing shadows or textures his sweet blue eyes glaze over slowly.
When I meet with my MNAA peeps however, it's instant understanding. We all share the same desire to grow. We've cultivated not only friendship, but a desire to see our fellow artists succeed.
Make no mistake, we're not a bunch of whiney po'baby back-patters. No complaining allowed at these summits. Our recent focus was a discussion of the concepts marketing guru Seth Godin shares in his 2003 book Purple Cow. Whatever our conversational topic we all have the same reference point - artist/solopreneur - and we distill information through the filter of our artistic goals, leaving room for shared wisdom. What works for me won't work for metal sculptor Sally Jurgensmier, and it might not click with painter Nicole Gustafsson, Deb Swisegood or Marcy Maley, but I'll have their support, their interest and their concern.
They're a group worth coming out into the cold for.
And if you need another good reason to bundle up and head out, H A Waring Johnson, local photographer and friend, is exhibiting her images at Noyes Gallery in Lincoln, Ne. It's worth the trip to see what she sees.
What gets you out of the studio?