Open Studios was exhausting but fun. I’m happy that my strategy of selling a lot of small pieces cheaply paid off big time. I think that my work is worth a lot more but people won’t or can’t pay higher prices. So, why keep everything stacked up in the closet because I can’t sell it for what it’s worth? Why not just let some of the pieces go to a good home – which is what I did. There are artists in our space who won’t come down on their prices but I’m not one of them.
It’s a heck of a lot easier to sell a lot of $5, $10 and $20 pieces than one $200 piece. I loved selling all my small pieces; not only did I make money, but got my name out there to a lot more people. I sold all my cards, most of my small pieces, several unframed watercolors and a couple of works on canvas. Go ME!
Both days were slow and Saturday was especially difficult as the studio temperature was in the 80’s and we were all exhausted from the reception the night before. We even had fewer people shuffling through the studio so I’m doubly happy at how much I made. Of course, our usual free loaders were not happy that we've cut back on the wine and cheese. In fact, one of them told me that we were "lucky to have people look at our art" and that he was unhappy that we'd already run out of wine. Ah. Poor baby!
There’s a lot of discussion in the art blog sphere about the economic meltdown and what it means for artists. One of the best commentary and discussions is on Edward Winkleman’s blog where he’s posted several pieces on pricing art.
I read a description of the business of contemporary art as the foam on the top of a (overpriced) latte. It is the first thing to go when wealthy people suddenly don't feel so wealthy. I seriously doubt many collectors finance the purchase of a work of art. I would guess that very few middle class people, even upper middle class people who appreciate art and might go to galleries on a regular basis, buy art. I also think that they don’t turn out for Open Studios unless the artist already has a “reputation,” a gallery and lots of reviews.
“Art may be necessary for the society at large, and for artists it's necessary to make it, but let's face it, it is not necessary to own it. And this is why the art market suffers so dramatically compared to the rest of the economy. Look at the early 90's vs. the late 80's...galleries closed en masse. And this has the potential to be much worse. It remains to be seen, but the shakeout has the potential to be far-reaching and long lasting. I don't think discounts and cost cutting will make much of a difference in this situation.” (Anon from the discussion boards).
But I intend to survive and making friends thorough the blogsphere is one of the ways that I do this. My time on both days was make much more enjoyable by the constant flow of friends, many of whom bought my artwork (always a sign of good taste). Mike and Tony (his partner) came by and bought a gorgeous piece by Flora Davis. Mike’s the creator of the blog, Civic Center and an all around fun and crazy guy.
Then, the fabulous Julie of tangobaby showed up and bought one of my early figuration pieces. We had done one camera walk through the Mission and plan on more, once I recover from the weekend. My computer had died on Friday and I was completely distraught about losing my lifeline to the greater world and even more frustrated that I didn’t have time to get it fixed. Well, as it turns out, Julie’s guy, the guy that she calls “the boy” on her blog runs an excellent Mac training and repair service.
I put in a call on Sunday night and I got a call back on Monday morning from “the boy” who moved matters along beautifully. Later that day, his two delightful associates, Eric and David showed up at my door. They look way too young to know so much but they diagnosed the problem (video card vs. dead monitor), drove me to the store, helped me pick out the correct monitor, brought it back home, installed it and La Voila! Athena is up and running again.
So, as far as I’m concerned Open Studios was a success. I sold a lot of work, met a lot of people, drank some wine, laughed a lot, shared my point of view about art to anybody who would listen and found great help for my sad Mac. I hope that I've made some new friends, shared part of my heart with old friends and for two days at least, showed anybody who would stop and look and listen that artists aren't some bizarre people making arcane work that nobody can understand. For those who couldn't make it - not to worry. I intend to be around for a long, long time.