20th Anniversary Party – North Coast Seed Open Studios This Saturday

It’s that time again!  On Saturday, June 17, 2017, the North Coast Seed Building, located at 2127 N. Albina in Portland, OR and home to my art studio for the last 6 years, will be opening up its doors and its studios to art lovers throughout the Portland area for its 20th anniversary of Open Studios.  From 4pm-10pm, guests will be able to see the works of more than 50 artists while enjoying live music, food, libations and door prizes.

I have been a part of the Seed Building’s Open Studios since 2011. Each year, other “Seedling” artists, like myself, meet this event with both excitement and trepidation. While the event offers artists a wonderful opportunity to share their works to the larger public in a way not normally possible, the inner walls of our studios are an asylum from the outside world. This is where we play. Where we expose our vulnerabilities. Where we divulge our fears. Exorcise our demons. Revel in our passions. Vent our anger. Share our love. Find our centers. Artists can spend so much time in their studios, it is not unusual to find a lounge area tucked into a corner along with food and drink, perhaps a place to rest & contemplate, even extra clothing to change into when covered in one medium or another. In a sense, the studio becomes the artist’s second home. Preparation for the Open Studios is not dissimilar to the feeling one gets prior to a large dinner party. The week leading up to the event sends some into a panic as they race to tidy up their spaces, hang and arrange art, get food and drink together, and finish up any new pieces they may wish to display. It’s not hard to imagine, then, the anxiety some artists feel as they reveal their inner sanctum to hundreds of viewers.

Despite whatever butterflies my colleagues and I may feel prior to opening our studio doors, there are so many ways in which Open Studios offers a unique opportunity for both artists and art lovers alike. For myself, preparation for throngs of visitors means I must address the piles of art debris that grows like untended science projects in the corners of my space. While I don’t welcome having to face what has built up around me, I always feel lighter and clearer of mind once my space is renewed and dialed in. Also, while the “Seedlings” all share the same building, we too often can get holed up in our own studio worlds, so Open Studios gives us all the possibility to come together as a group. It provides a sense of community and broadens our horizons by exposing us to the kind of work each of us is undertaking what materials we are working with, what perspectives we are speaking from, and what technology we may have employed. The life of an artist can often be solitary, so I welcome the chance to meet with familiar faces and get introduced to new ones. Speaking with people in my studio allows me to share what I’m working on, see reactions to my work and get feedback about my work, talk to others about what inspires them, and answer questions in a way that cannot be achieved through a technology platform. It allows me to put up new work and re-evaluate what I have thus far and consider how I want to go forward.

One of my favorite parts of Open Studios comes at the end of the night, as the event is winding down. Something about all the activity of the event rounds the edges off the anxiety felt at the beginning of the evening. That, blended with the openness and intimacy of the event often leads to my favorite conversations. Lastly, many people, who are not artists themselves but are interested in the arts, are curious about the lives of artists and what happens within the confines of their private work spaces. Open Studios gives people a window into the world of artists and reminds them of what can happen when you commit to following your passion.