On being an artist……

30 09 2009

Well, I write this now because I had my feelings crushed today and after turning to my friends for moral support and encouragement (which they are spectacular at!), I realized I wasn’t crushed, I was offended and rightly so, I think. Here’s the scoop:

I was invited to apply to participate in a new studio art walk for our little group of small towns (Langley City, Township of Langley, Aldergrove). Most small towns have these kinds of things – a map is published for people to drive around to and check out the artists working in their studios, purchase work directly from the artists, etc. Now, I live in an older 70’s style single family home. The yard is messy right now as I am not able to do the yard work and my hubby hasn’t had time. But it didn’t rain that much this summer, the lawn needs cutting but isn’t quite ready for a hay bailer, there’s some wood and stuff that is destined for the dump sitting in the driveway (hubby just has to have the time to get it there). My shrubs need trimming – I really like to leave them to grow on their own, but they are looking quite raggedy this year. Sure, my house could use painting – but it’s not a hovel, I don’t think (correct me if I’m wrong, but it’s not THAT bad, really). By signing up for the art walk, I figured that would give hubby a deadline for front yard maintenance – really it’s about a day or two’s worth of cutting, tidying and a dump run or two, no big deal. I live in a very modest neighborhood that is filled with lower/middle class families – VERY typical of the three towns to be included in the supposed tour. There are lots of kids in the neighborhood. The guy across the street has his big old work trucks in the driveway, the guy next door has a chain link fence (not pretty, but keeps the dog in), and the list goes on. You guys have seen my jewelry, right? It’s not ugly or anything – and my studio (while cluttered and in the middle of a remodel – which would have been done by this little art walk gig) is quite large and bright and cheery. But the state of my studio and the quality of my jewelry are apparently irrelevant. This is the email I got back from the woman –

Thank you for sending your application for the Langley Artists Studio Tour. We absolutely love your work! However one of the Studio Tour committee members had the opportunity to drive by your studio over the weekend and reported that she did not feel it represented the kind of professional setting that we have established as the standard for the tour. For that reason, we are sorry to say we can’t accept your application for your home studio — I hope you understand. However, we would like to strongly encourage you to consider partnering with another artist or securing another Langley-based venue for your work. We are going to leave your application open in the hopes that you are able to do this and will extend the deadline to October 14th (that’s our absolute final deadline to add listings to the Studio Tour guide-map prior to printing). Some of the other artists, who don’t have appropriate studio space, have been creative about finding alternatives and we hope you will be too.

Well, knock me over with a feather!! I run the largest bead show in Western Canada. I’ve taught classes all over North America (okay, Chicago, Washington, and a few places in BC, but that’s N America, right?!), I’ve been featured in online articles, local newspapers, etc. I sell at a small exclusive gallery in Port Moody. You can’t mention my name in the jewelry industry without someone knowing who I am. For the past 16 years, I have sold my jewelry at all kinds of art fairs locally – very successfully I might add. But my house doesn’t measure up to their standards. I don’t live in a fancy neighborhood. I don’t drive a fancy car. I don’t spend countless dollars landscaping my yard and manicuring my driveway. I spend my time and money making a meager living at my art. I am infinitely happy with my life and my surroundings (cluttered and messy though they may be!). And someone I’ve never met, and has never spoken to me in person has judged me on the appearance of my yard. And obviously found me lacking. Hmmmmmm…….. I’m not so sure I want to let this go. I find it highly offensive. I find it highly degrading and I find it highly unacceptable. Don’t get me wrong, there is nothing on heaven or earth that could get me to participate in their little ‘art walk’ now – they don’t measure up to my standards. But I don’t thing I’m going to let the fact that they dismissed my studio from their group because my yard needs grooming go without some sort of protest.

I am an artist. I am very creative. When I set my mind to something, amazing things happen. It’s what I do. I think I do need to come up with a creative alternative to their little art walk. Oh wait, I already did that. It’s called the Fraser Valley Bead Show – featuring 50+ vendors and artists. And I did it long before they decided I wasn’t good enough for their little group. Go figure! 🙂

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9 responses

30 09 2009
Janice

Keep on doing what you do girl!!! (and shame on them!)
Janice

30 09 2009
Bee

Barrie I can’t believe what just happened! They could have stopped for a moment and found out what a wonderful feel your place has when you walk in. You have the dogs to greet them at the door…any number of cats to pet and then there’s your studio…your wonderful well equipped studio. The place exudes creativity and warmth! Fools! I suspect that someone with some brains will realize that they have made a bad decision. Invite them to your October home…you know…the Fraser Valley Bead Show! See if they like that yard!!

30 09 2009
Pam

Oh Barrie, I’m so sorry this happened to you – how awful. It’s their loss, really, you do amazing creative work and to heck with them for judging your home that way.

1 10 2009
Gladys

Oh Barrie, Please let it slide off your back and don’t let the SMALL minds (if they have any) get to you. I know what you should do…..have your own private walk at the same time they have theirs. Serve apple cider and do some demonstrations. Decorate your yard in a halloween theme, purples, oranges, tans & browns. Wish I could be there to help!

1 10 2009
Gwen

Perhaps they will drown should it rain. With their noses so up in the air they are in immediate danger of that! Did they not hear the saying, “Don’t judge a book by it’s cover”. That being said, I think you acutally dodged a bullet, so to speak, since their security seems to be lacking. Not sure I would want folks wandering through my studio knowing that some of them might come back and take whatever they might like! I do think you should “invite” them to YOUR SHOW. It has far more prestige than their little walk about!

1 10 2009
Carol

Barrie,

Don’t listen to them… We know you for who you are and what you do – and that is fabulous!

Have they never heard “Creative Minds are rarely Tidy”? That is a motto I live by….

Tell them to go pound sand!

Love
Carol

1 10 2009
Tammy

I would be furious! So what if your house looks lived in, it’s SUPPOSED to! I’m not going to say what I would probably tell them, because it’s very ugly, but then I would just go on about my business. You make AWESOME jewelry and run your own show. Let them put that in their pipes and smoke it!

2 10 2009
Janine

Wow. I for one think your talents are better spent making jewelry, teaching classes, being helpful to lots of people online, raising children and grandchildren, housing and loving a menagerie of creatures, and creating and running that small little show of yours which brings a TON of money into the local economy than clipping your shrubbery regularly.

Bad move for them. If that is their stance, the LEAST they could have done was approach you by phone or in person and discussed what your plans were regarding the things that concern them. Sheesh. I see a new piece of jewelry coming, stamped Bite Me!

Hugs!

2 10 2009
Trish

I loved my weekend in your home! It was warm and welcoming and you were generous and gracious and it was a wonderful experience. Let them eat cake and stick out their pinkies…and all that ridiculous high-brow snobbery…. somewhere else. We prefer your studio and the magic and friendship that comes from the heart there.

Oh, and the show poster is fabulous! Wish I could come!

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