A Halting Sonnet: RAW Artist Allure Showcase

I have given artwork as gifts, and I have done comissioned work. I have had a few folks inquire about purchasing some of my paintings. But until Wednesday night, I had never sold a work that came directly from my mind to a perfect stranger.

While living through unemployment, I had been spending time working on my encaustic process and decided to set up an etsy shop as well. While I hadn't finished setting the whole shop up, I was contacted by Melissa Shipley through Raw Artists to show some work at the August 20 show in Seattle. Melissa was really professional to work with and very encouraging, so I plunged in. Why not? My typical excuse--not enough time--certainly wasn't valid.

Neumos, the Capitol Hill club that hosted the event, is painted blood red and black inside. It's a dim concert-club on the main floor, with a classic speakeasy-style bar in the basement and a low-ceilinged loft for a VIP area upstairs. Macklemore and Ryan Lewis unofficially debuted their award-winning album The Heist there in 2012.

As I prepped for the show, spending hours and hours writing and designing the content cards, choosing which paintings to display, and deciding how to utilize my two 4x6 grids to the best advantage, my friend Juliann called one evening and mentioned that one of their live painters had dropped out of the evening at The Round, a local arts event. If I could get there in 15 minutes, I could fill in.

I've been thinking about painting at The Round for ages, but hadn't been brave enough to reach out myself. I showed up at the Fremont Abbey 20 minutes into the show. Juliann pointed me to the canvas, paints and brushes at the front of the room next to Clara, the other live painter.

The Round brings three bands or musicians together on the stage. Each group or individual presents one song in turn, punctuated by a poet's reading. There are three "rounds" to each show. While music and poetry swirled around me, I painted. It went faster than I expected. During the break, a few people asked questions. After the last song, I put my brushes down, chatted with Clara for a bit, and then stood at the back of the room so people felt free to come up and look at the paintings. This was a great intro to next week's art show with RAW.

Damn you, wide-angle-lens. --Jana's right arm
On Wednesday, August 20, I showed up with all of my S hooks, battery powered lights, tools, tape, and fragile artwork packed into milk crates. I got my nametag and began carrying the crates upstairs where my display grid was set up next to the great folks of Little Kicking Bird and Snapping Tortoise Photography. 2 hours later, I was called to get my headshot done.  One headshot and another three hours later, the pieces were hung, the description cards were attached, the 3-D sculptures were arranged on a small table, and all that was left was to change into cocktail attire at the Starbucks bathroom down the street.

Headshot reflects appropriate anxiety levels.
 Family and friends traveled from hours away to come to the show, from a cohort of Bellingham and Lynden friends, including the fantastic Van Noords, the seriously amazing Strongs, and of course the fabulous Gerings, as well as my old friend Mark and his mother Susan, who had found me an amazing deal on a supply of local beeswax a few years ago and has come to every art show I've ever done. 

Local family and friends came as well, including some recent acquaintances. Seriously, I'm SO grateful to have had new friends Chris and Julia come out, as well as Carolyn, Lydia, Lia, Juliann, Anne, Jay, and some other wonderful guests who didn't really know me at all, but came out on the strength of friend's recommendation (and a special shout out to Luz and Cole, who bought tickets and couldn't come due to accident and injury). I can hardly believe it, even now. Here are some photos from the show. to cover over my stumbling but honest gratitude to those who offered true support by buying tickets and just showing up on a Wednesday night in Capital Hill. You guys...you were living grace to me.

Near the end of the show, I had some great conversations with a guy who had circled through the exhibits a few times. He asked some questions about the meanings and ideas expressed in my work, and then he said he was going to buy two pieces. I didn't believe him at first, and then I got all shaky as I signed into Square for the first time and tried to do the math (which he had to do for me). I packed the two small pieces ("Spice Trio" and "Hard to Say") into a box, added the care instructions and a few business cards, and handed a perfect stranger two pieces of art that had been purely constructed out of my own process and ideas. It's a strange thing, being understood by another mind, and that other mind somehow bringing new ideas in, too. As we discussed the piece, he expressed something about it that I hadn't thought of before, but that totally made sense. Creativity is generative. The more you spend it, the more you have.

I was glad to know that Liam planned to put the piece "Hard to Say" in his recording studio. I like the idea of my work being in a creative place where people will be working through putting words and music together.

For those of you interested in participating with Raw, check out the network here http://www.rawartists.org/. They run shows in many cities across the US, and it was a great experience I'd highly recommend.

In other news, there's other news! I started an email update list where I'll be sharing studio updates, Etsy shop updates, and giving early information on new work and exclusive content. Let's keep in touch!


Ken said…
Hurrah Jana! God bless you as you share his gifts with others.