Friday, November 12, 2010

Prepping for the Studio Stroll

This weekend is the fall Studio Stroll. My studio is in Asheville's River Arts District, the old industrial area around the river and the railroad yard. Starting about 25+ years ago, artists began moving into the old buildings and using their large spaces as studios. Then, about 20 years ago, they started opening their studios once a year to the public. Now we have about 150 artists in the District and we do the Stroll twice a year, in June and November.

This time, it looks like we'll probably have a very large turnout. The weather is looking really good all weekend. Gallery owners that I've talked to are saying that they're seeing an uptick in the number of visitors and buyers. It's as if those who have money have been sitting on it for a long time, waiting to see what happened with the economy. Now they think the worst has passed, they still have money, Christmas is coming, and they feel pretty good, so they're starting to spending some of it. About time, I say.

Not that I expect much of it to come my way during the Stroll. Some artists will sell a whole lot this weekend. For the most part, the pieces that sell are about beauty, color, and warm feelings. The potters and glass artists will do well, as will my new neighbor who does stained glass mosaics, and also the fabric artists. Among the painters, the abstract artists and landscape painters (those who do Appalachian vistas) will do best. As for me, I do edgy works, often confrontational, about such cheery subjects as the effects of war, political satire, and aging. While I'd say that some of my paintings are beautifully done, they're not about beauty and warm feelings, so most are still, umm, in my "private collection".

Still, I participate in the strolls as a way to show a lot of people what I can do. I like talking with the people who come through. Opportunities pop up, sometimes years later, from chance meetings in the studio. So while it's frustrating to end the weekend on Sunday evening with everything I started with on Saturday morning (which has happened on more Strolls than not), it's still a great advertising opportunity.

This time, I'm showing Warrior (hopefully for the last time, at least at the Strolls), Pleasantville and Ann's Slander, along with the series of small portraits from Iraq, a few other related works, and my Forest Nymph series of photographs. And I've got a few other surprises out, too.

So I've been working hard, along with Christine, my studio partner, at cleaning the place up and making it presentable. What a slog that's been! Old industrial buildings are dirty; artists' studios are dirty; combine the two and you have the potential for a monumental pigpen. We weren't that bad, but it took a lot of work. For the past few months, we've had a massive infestation of stinkbugs - evidently it's a regional or nationwide problem - and the little buggers were everywhere. In boxes, on shelves, in paint drawers, behind supplies, even hiding inside paintings. I was prepping one painting today and found six stinkbugs hiding in the back, between the canvas and the stretcher bars. Unbelievable. So if you come to the Stroll this weekend and take home one of my artworks, and then find a stinkbug in it, rest assured I won't charge you extra for it.

'Nuff said for now. I've still got a lot of preps to do tonight and it's getting late. If you're in Asheville this weekend, come by and visit, I'd love to see you!

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