Open Studios is here again…
I never feel ready for it, and it always sneaks up on me. It never goes how I think it’s going to go, but it’s usually one of the most rewarding experiences of my year, so I continue to push myself. I’ve been participating now since 2015, and this will be my fourth consecutive year. You’d think I’d have my act together by now, but that is never the case. It just gets easier to manage the hustle.
Last year I participated in Open Studios in downtown Oakland, with a wonderful group of artists at Uptown, and it was there that I casually met my mentor Toru Sugita. Toru has since introduced printmaking into my life. We had a very important discussion that very warm Summer day in June about struggle. Now reflecting back a year later, little did I know or understand that experience would change my work so much. It’s been enabling me to create work I’ve always wanted to make using new mediums I’ve always loved and appreciated, but never understood until now. Over the last year, I’ve been able to study with Toru, and make some painful mistakes, but also have some little successes too. It’s all movement, and pushing me in a direction that feels right.
As time goes on with every passing month, I’ve come to find that continually hacking away at my craft whether it’s painting, drawing, carving, or printing - it’s my community of creative peers that always lifts me up and keeps me going. I have met many lovely people over the last few years that have literally opened doors and walls for me to show work, or allowed me temporary use of space to make my work, or have helped me make connections to grow my work. All of this has blossomed through participating in Open Studios. Whenever I’m feeling reluctant or have anxiety about participating again, I try to remind myself of these opportunities. I never would have known if I didn’t try. I am asked all the time by other touring artists who question showing because they don’t feel ready. What does that mean? How do you even know the answer to that? What defines ready? Everyone has to start somewhere.
In my humble opinion, Open Studios is a special time that calls for action from artists to make it happen for the community. It is being community, and continually gives back to the local art community. Artists must work together to help other artists put themselves out there. It’s a competitive world, and self-promotion is not easy. It’s the hardest thing ever when you’re unsure about where you’re going or if you’re not used to sharing so much of yourself with strangers who may give you feedback. It’s necessary though to grow ~ Especially as a new artist putting your work out there. Every year I do this I have to put on a brave face, but I look at it as a way to give back to myself for all the hard work I’ve put into learning the past year. It’s not free, but it’s a small price to pay for the opportunity it could bring. Make it an art party, and show with friends if you don’t want to do it alone. I do this a majority of the time, and it’s always a lot of fun! I know I can only speak for myself, but my willingness to keep saying yes to this every year has brought me here now, and I wouldn’t trade that for anything in the world (even if it makes me feel a little uncomfortable sometimes.)
I look forward to meeting some more friendly faces this year. Come on by if you’re in the neighborhood! There are some great deals on prints this year!
June 2-3, 9-10 - 4 days only! 11am to 6pm
Activspace West Berkeley
2703 - 7th Street, Studio #122 Ground Floor
Entrance @ Pardee - Off the Ashby exit - Free Parking!