May 5, 2019: A Community of Creative Spirits
The challenge of life is to get up, dust off, and keep going – for the love of the work, for the love of life and all the gifts we have been given. (Carolyn McDade)
This weekend, we hosted and participated in an Artists’ Open House in our home. We began six years ago at the beginning of the holiday season, with just our jewelry and the creations from a close quilting friend. We added our “Expressions of Spring” event four years ago and now both the holiday one and the Spring event have become an annual tradition in our community. It’s also expanded from two art forms to sixteen, from botanicals and folk art, to woodcarvings, weavings and watercolors,
Getting ready for this event requires a lot of creative work from a variety of sources. Weeks before, beautiful invitations are designed by our daughter Heather West, who is a graphic artist and herbalist. Social media is employed to share information about the event and the wonderful artists who are participating. Enticing menus for the food are planned by our caterers and floor plans designed to incorporate all of our artists. Two days before, we empty out our main rooms of furniture, set up tents on our deck, shop for necessities, while still finding time to create our own jewelry. Sometimes there are glitches to face. This week, a heavy rainstorm collapsed two tents on the day before artists were to arrive, resulting in a 7 a.m. visit to the hardware store. Preparation requires a whirlwind of activity, but the results are worth it. The many hands that help to prepare for our events, from set up to take down are essential to their success. The breadth and depth of support and talent from our community of creative spirits is always inspirational.
For some artists, it’s the first time they’ve represented their work to the public. That in itself is a challenge for any creative spirit. After all these years of participating in shows, we still find it an emotional risk to present your inspirations and heart work to an audience, with the uncertainty of its response. Whether it’s a venue like ours in the comfort of a home, or a large crafts fair, the anticipation of wondering whether anyone will appreciate your work can be a source of anxiety. In discussions with the many artists we’ve met over the years, I’m always amazed at how often they describe themselves as shy children. Yet the very act of selling, requires one to be an extrovert. What I’ve also discovered is that when these same, self-described introverts begin to discuss their work, the passion for it helps the conversations flow. You might never know whether or not someone will buy a piece, but the very reason we create, the joy of the art is ignited and shared.
Ultimately, going into a show well prepared doesn’t always predict the outcome. It might be a slow show and that in itself can be defeating to an artist. But there are benefits which keep both the motivation to participate flowing. There is a comradery between artists, who offer both stories, moral support, strategies and wisdom. Meeting and making connections with appreciative customers, who recognize the value of handcrafted items is always rewarding. Most importantly, having the opportunity to create and work with something we love to do is the final push under our wings to keep flying.
We experienced all of this in the last two days. We’re grateful for the talented artists and crafters who shared their energy, time and work. We’re thankful for the customers who ventured out in miserable weather on Friday, and on a sunny afternoon after weeks of cloudy days. Most of all, we are filled with gratitude to have the opportunity to be jewelry artists and share our love for the craft with others.
Thank you to: Molly Harper (Soul Pine Pottery), Heather West (Westwood Farms), Linda Harper (Creative Caterer), Kate Criscone (Kate Criscone Fine Art and Photography), Barbara & Jim Foote, Lisa Harris & Cindy Tomlinson (New Leaf), Clayton George (Clayton’s Creations), Jason Paltanavich (Paltanavic Metalworks), Susan B. Merritt (S.S.Merritt Watercolors) Donna Miller (Petals in the Pine), Kathryn Cranford & Sage Patterson (A Peace of Paper), Shelly Tibbets (Sanity Saver), Laurie Kimball Johnson (Linney Lane Botanicals), Denise Mckeen (Whimsical Wonders), Suzanne Amidon, Mary Giroux (a.k.a. Miracle Mary), Pam Horvath (Damselfly Fabric Creations), Alex Denver (Right Coast Photography),June Garen (Namaste Knitting & Fierce Felting), and Susan Hewey (Porch Knit Designs)