When You Think You Live in a Cultural Desert

If I had a nickel for every time an artist told me that their lives would be better if only they lived somewhere else, well … I’d have a lot of nickels!

Some of you have convinced yourselves that your town isn’t an “art town.”

When I hear this excuse, I think to myself:

What is an art town?

Is it a place with galleries on every corner and informed people walking around buying art?

Is it a place that has a strong arts council with lots of support for public art?

Is it a place where museums attract plenty of blockbuster exhibitions?

Do art towns even exist?

I already know the answers to these questions. Except for a handful of places, I’ve come to believe that there is no such thing as an art town brimming with enlightened art buyers.

Not living in an art town is simply another excuse for inaction. Artists who use this excuse think that they would be more successful if they lived in New York or Santa Fe or Portland or, frankly, anywhere else but where they are.

I’ve witnessed plenty of artists grow their businesses and careers in places that don’t show up on the world or even regional map of art towns.

But let’s set aside this argument on whether or not there’s such thing as “art towns.” That’s fodder for a different discussion.

Now we can focus on how to thrive in your supposed cultural desert.

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The Value of Community for Artists (Podcast)

Community is essential for artists. Not just for your well-being, but for the well-being of your art.

In this episode, Michael Keen and I talk about his background with artists’ communities and the value of community. In particular, community can provide:

-Validation

– Inspiration

– Motivation

– Constructive feedback

As you’ll hear, other things came up.

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Nestle In to Your Artist Community

Christine Porter's Feeding Time

As a student of art history, I love reading about communities of artists that evolved organically over the centuries. Oh, to have been a fly on the wall in the Cedar Tavern in the 1940s and 50s!

Oh, to have been a fly on the wall in the Cedar Tavern in the 1940s and 50s!

I believe that an artist’s work is better when there are other artists around to question, critique, challenge, and, yes, to praise.

Artists’ communities are all around. Among other spots, you’ll find artists’ communities in:

  • Coffee shops and bars
  • Residencies
  • Classes and workshops
  • Conferences and events
  • Online (pick your favorite spot)
  • Studio spaces
  • Creative workspaces

Search for a group where you feel at home and nestle in. If you come up empty, you can always start your own.

The Value of Community

There are at least 5 key reasons to seek out and become an active part of an artists’ community.

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The Strength of Artists as a Community

©Gail Haile, Setting Sun Mandala. Photo collage. Used with permission.

I struggle for ways to acknowledge this solemn anniversary of the 2001 terrorist attacks.

Should I ignore the date on my calendar, or try to write something profoundly moving?

©Gail Haile, Setting Sun Mandala. Photo collage. Used with permission.

Usually I ignore the date in my emails and on my blog, which seems more appropriate for my audience. This year I had an idea to use this space to focus on one of my top values and priorities: community.

Community is a value I absorbed from my mother and is something we cherished following September 11, 2001.

The Strength of Artists as a Community

I am inspired by a quote from Christy MacLear, Executive Director of The Robert Rauschenberg Foundation. In a Continue reading…

The Generosity of Artists

Map of Oklahoma

Artists are amazingly generous with their time and talents. You are among the first to respond to a disaster and to help out those in need. You give full out with our heart. Bravo! Here are a few recent artist philanthropy feats that I’d like to acknowledge.

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10 Reasons to Burn Your Art Group Membership Card

Fire

After years of encouraging artists to join artist organizations, I’m going to commit blasphemy with this post, which is somewhat of a follow-up to my post on poisonous relationships. I love groups that function smoothly, but many people start an artist organization without much of a vision. They want to have control without thinking about what is best for members and without first trying to improve existing organizations.

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Beware of Poisonous Relationships

poison

The second principle of no-excuse self-promotion, according to I’d Rather Be in the Studio is: “Connections are critical to your success. To succeed, you must make an effort to meet new people and to maintain relationships.” But not all connections are equal. Some connections can be detrimental to your art, your emotional well-being, and your growth.

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How I Collaborate

I want Conspiracy members to be proactive and seek out relationships that will further their careers. I want that for you, too. Perhaps sharing these lists about how I collaborate in my business might trigger something for you – a way you can make collaborations work for you.

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3 Ways to Be a Rock Star in Your Art Community

Be seen at openings, lectures, and events, and show your work – a lot! Be supportive of arts organizations and of other artists. Be a reporter.

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Educate Those Who Ask for Donations of Your Art

Fiona Purdy offers a solution to artists who are bombarded with requests for donations. She shares a letter she wrote recently in response to a donation request – a letter that educates the fundraisers.

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