OK. Round two. Let’s talk again about bravery.
It arrived as an artist group invite. It’s a group of “working” artists. The “working” label is because it is women who are putting their eggs in that basket. They are actively marketing, applying to shows, creating product lines, working with designers, putting their shingles out in their own spaces, and working really hard to make this art life happen. This is their day job.
So, I shared gallery space with one of these ladies (Stacy) and got myself an invite. Yay, me! What happened was I had this great, encouraging night with a wonderful group of people who absolutely fill my Instagram account with wonderful stuff. I admire them all. Really. But I’m just writing about a few.
You know how sometimes you can be in a big group of people talking and then one person will start talking and everyone kind of stops to listen to her? Blayne’s like that. She’s not pushy – not at all – and she isn’t loud. She talked about the difficulties of getting someone to highlight her artwork on their blog, some galleries who were nice and one that wasn’t. It was like getting it straight from the horse’s mouth. It WAS getting it from the horse’s mouth. By “it” I mean experience and honesty and help.
Because we all need a little help. That’s what struck me. We were helping each other. We weren’t holding back; it didn’t feel competitive or uncomfortable. Christina had worked at a big name gallery and shared her perspective. The fellow introverts (Bless you, Deonna!) listened and made insightful connections. Even though we don’t all have the same dream, that night we all were in the same place. We were working, working hard to follow the dream, whatever that dream looked like for us.
So I found out Blayne was the creator of the email list for that group and I fawned over her and made damn sure I made the next couple of meetings. Through the generosity of that group, I was included in a show I never would have been included in before. I watch as they post on social media, let people know a little about their lives, share their accomplishments, learn from their failures. I learn how to let people in a little more, how to be ok with my own failures, how to share with and nurture other creatives in my circle. I hope that – when I get to the point where I can create a few opportunities – that I remember this and share that space.
I hope I get there because the defining attribute of the folks I’m talking about in this little blog is HUSTLE. Oh my gosh. I hear them talk and I look at these social media feeds and it makes me freaking exhausted. Melissa Payne Baker makes a line of paintings --sure!—but also scarves and bags and glasses and sells them in multiple places, does book signings across the country, paints live at events. Small, beautiful child dressed perfectly in all photos. Blayne works with a designer to create the perfect painting for an amazing house and future magazine spread in some ridiculously short amount of time, moved to a fantastic loft studio, sells a daily paper line, creates and curates and tremendous, HUGE show as a fundraiser for Children’s hospital. Beautiful small children. Also is a photographer.
They are also younger than I am and in the throws of mommy time. I mean, when a parent has to be there every second or you have to pay someone to be there every second.
But in the midst of all this, they have the kindness, the generosity to share. These women invite me to the shows they start. They include. They make the circle wider. I was – and am – inspired. They are brave, but they are also kind.
Since I started this essay months ago, Blayne curated and built her massive and successful fundraiser show, the Beacham Series. I was absolutely honored to participate and, again, was struck by how many wonderful artists she had gathered and fostered. Soon after the show, Blayne sent a message on IG that she was going to have to step back a bit from the full-time artist world because of all the other things she has in her life that need her attention. While this made me a little sad, I was sad because the way she said it I felt that she was dejected by this change, like she had let herself down. I don’t know what actually had to change. Maybe she and her family were just really exhausted by the whole show process, but from my perch at *cough* 46-yrs-old *cough* I bet it was one of those turning points where you work and you work and you work and you (she) just lost track of how much she accomplished. Maybe she didn’t fulfill her fundraising goal. Maybe her husband felt neglected. Maybe she was feeling some mommy guilt. I don’t know; I’m totally projecting my own problems on her. But I do know this: she did something. She did something really big. I’m astonished at the huge show she put together, yes. It was great and a ton of fun and art sold, mine included. However, I think what she really accomplishes is opening a new path, for making so many artists (and probably other “regular” people too!) feel pretty freaking amazing about themselves. She shows that some new things are possible. She essentially created a new “people project” that wasn’t there before, from scratch. But maybe her biggest win was being able to publicly say it is ok to step back for a minute. Don’t we all need permission to step back and change direction?
So thank you, art group. Thank you Stacy for introducing me to Melissa (again?) and to Blayne for putting the email together and folks for hosting. Thank you all for sharing your journeys. It makes my journey a little less hard. I know that’s not world-wide fame or millions of $$$, but I want you to know it matters. What you do is brave and it is kind. Carry on.