Sunday, November 15, 2015

Kaleidoscope 2015

Another great Kaleidoscope of Art event has been safely tucked in for the year. The Museum of Nebraska Art in Kearney, Ne. celebrates artists and art patrons by hosting 30 artists for their annual holiday fundraiser.

 MONA was in its infancy when I was growing up in Kearney. It has developed into a first class museum celebrating artists who have ties to Nebraska through heritage or subject matter. This year nearly 700 visitors passed through the front doors to see what area artists have been working on for this special weekend.
My display 
Rick Brown of the Kearney Hub newspaper and I enjoyed a fun and wide-ranging conversation while visitors browsed through the halls of the museum making their purchases.  My answer to a toss-off question he asked surprised us both.

Had this been a successful event, and why?

Evidently others had responded in the usual way; art work had sold, money had changed hands, or at the very least hopeful contacts had been made for future reference.
©2015 Patricia Scarborough Autumn Garden  6x8 oil  Sold
Those are, of course, excellent markers of success. Mine was slightly different. The words that popped out of my mouth were, "Yes it has been successful, because I want to come back next year."

Yes. Yes I do.

These events are a challenge, at least for me. There's the unique preparation for an event of this kind, as well as overnight arrangements, hauling in and setting up, taking down and hauling out. I'm pooped before the doors open for business. Plus I'm a little (or a lot) introverted, and engaging in 2 days of conversations can leave me feeling a little drained.  Often times I leave these affairs thinking, "...never again...".

Yet the answer to Rick's question was, "I'll be back. Why? I made some new friends, caught up with others, and actually had a really terrific time. MONA is a great place to share art and conversation. Plus they provide really good cookies. Oh, and yes, there were sales. That too."
©2015 Patricia Scarborough  Morning!  6x8 oil   Sold
I'll tuck the Kaleidoscope of Arts event in the scrapbook for another year, and mark it on my calendar for the first weekend in November, 2016. You should too.

Sunday, November 1, 2015

Mapping it Out

 When I was a child my family would load up the old station wagon, the one minus seat belts and airbags, pack it full of children and suitcases and head out of town to visit relatives. In preparation my mother would show me the plan; carefully unfolding a map of the United States, she used her finger to follow a line as it wandered and wiggled around and through little towns, big cities and the gaps in between until we bumped into the little dot which was our destination.

I can still feel my confusion when we crossed the great Missouri River as planned and found that Iowa was not at all what I expected. On our map, the guide my family used to plot our trip and keep us from getting lost in the jungle or falling off the edge of the world, the map that was printed by a respectable publishing company and was, by all accounts, the best representation of our country’s roads that could be found, Iowa was pink. Nebraska was green, of course. South Dakota was yellow. Iowa was pink.

Only when we got there, it wasn't.  I’m still living that one down.

Regardless of their flaws, I still love maps. I love the idea of starting out at Point A, and through a series of decisions that have been thoughtfully considered, the relative assurance of landing at Point B.  I’m no stranger to detours and side roads. Highways in Nebraska are under construction all the time. Even so, there is still a general understanding that if I am lost, all I have to do is drive south on a paved road. Eventually I’ll end up in Kansas. And from there I’ll know, sort of, where I am in the world.

I love moving through my day that way too. In general, I know what the plan is.

The art world could use a map maker, even it they get some of the wrong color. 

Like my family’s vacation map, it doesn’t have to be perfect. It would be nice to know in general terms where you might end up if you don’t know where you’re going exactly. Iowa can still be pink.

Finding a consistent route to success in this art business on your own is next to impossible. I’ve interviewed gallery owners, successful artists in all media, patrons and museum curators in an effort to find, not necessarily the indisputable only way but simply a way. Or even a few possible ways (excluding of course those routes which most certainly will take you into No Man's Land). It would be helpful to know of a route that is at least within a hundred mile radius of your destination, and will be the same tomorrow as it was today. 

Want guidelines for finding a gallery? A way to make a sell reproductions of your work? A surefire road to success? For every website, artist, how-to book and monthly newsletter there are a ridiculously wide variety of side-roads, subways and super highways to take with no assurance they're going to the same place you are. 

In other words, there is no certain map for you to use. 

Here's why:

Maybe it’s not uncharted territory, but your path is your own. You’ve got to be Sir Stanley to your own Dr. Livingstone, I presume.

My advice, dear reader.  Grab a paper map. Put your finger down on a spot. This is you, right now, in this place.  Notice all the various routes spider-webbing out from this spot? These are visual representations of possibility.

 Some of them will be interesting. 

Some will not. 

A few will take a little longer than others. You may find out that your destination, like Iowa, is not what you expected. At any time you can turn off the route you’ve chosen and try another squiggly line.

That, my friends, is your road map to success in this business.

And don’t forget to enjoy the ride.

Sunday, October 4, 2015

Small Wonders

One just never knows, does one?

As you recall, The Cather Foundation in Red Cloud, Nebraska invited me to exhibit my work in their beautiful gallery space from September 1 through October 30, 2015. Last night we enjoyed a really lovely reception, which was a series of unexpected delights.

The foundation building itself is lovely; updated, yet with the flavor of the past and the influences on Cather's life carefully preserved.

Despite the distance between towns in this part of the world there is a sincere appreciation for the fine arts. Take that, Big City.

During the evening a smooth, on-the-ball collector quietly purchased Windswept, a lovely pastel of mine that expresses the chill beauty of open space in rural Nebraska after a brutally cold snow storm. Gentleman Collector has a discerning eye, so I was doubly pleased. As I related this purchase to Handsome Husband, a friend listening in whispered with great regret, "No kidding? But I wanted that one." His disappointment was both gratifying and charming.

©Patricia Scarborough  Windswept  8x12 pastel
In an equally surprising and gratifying turn, Handsome Husband, whose taste runs more to rubber dinosaur and shoot'em up movies, purchased "Willa Cather Collected Stories" for his personal library.  HH credits his 4th grade teacher, Mrs. Griffin, for planting the seed. He recounted her dedication and love for Cather's work all these years later which was of course lost on a 4th grade boy. In the shadow of Cather's presence, as an adult he was intrigued. May wonders never cease.

We left Red Cloud last night with a sense of deep appreciation for so much; for the work of Willa Cather herself; for those who work to preserve her legacy; for those who appreciate the artistic efforts of others; and for a certain 4th grade teacher who planted a small seed so many years ago.

Sunday, September 20, 2015

Tree Work

The sky is bigger by half above the yard where touchdown passes were caught and little boy dreams of football stardom were made.

The mosaic of brilliant blue and green divided by twigs and lithe branches is gone, undone in a roaring 60 minutes of flying sawdust. Forty seasons of baby birds and squirrels scrabbling up and down have come to a close.

Undone by years of twisting winds this tired maple was held together by the filament of bird nests and a foot-long bolt drilled through its trunk to mend a terrible wound from 20 years ago which never really healed.

Part of the rhythm of my life is to check the tree for a weather report or just to see what shapes and colors it will share.

Today is clear, with no chance of shade. 

Handsome Husband, always the optimist, ventures that this change will bring opportunity, and he is right, of course. Games of catch were outgrown anyway and there will be one less tree-full of leaves to rake this fall.  Next year we'll start over with sun-loving flowers and saplings that hold the promise of shade and decades of reaching for the sky.