Well, this was one REALLY busy weekend… it’s 5pm on sunday, and this is pretty much the first chance I’ve had to sit and decompress for a while.
First, thanks to everybody who came out in the lousy weather to see my Haiku show on friday night. Considering how miserable it was, and the horrible traffic jams all around the city that night, there was still a respectable turnout.
Saturday’s wet paint event was a real standout. Prior to last week, I’d never heard of the Essex Art Center in Lawrence. My loss. This is a group of energetic and committed art lovers who obviously devote enormous amounts of time and hard work to make a truly exceptional event happen 8 years running now, as well as other exhibitions throughout the year. Kudos to Leslie, Helen, Maria, and the rest of the staff.
The event itself: For those not familiar with the concept, wet paint events involve a number of artists spreading through a city (or beach, forest, whatever) and each doing a plein air painting on that day, usually to be auctioned or sold that evening. As luck would have it, it rained. Ferociously. Many of the artists ended up doing still lifes or working from photos indoors. Not to be deterred, I chose to work in my car (one of these days I’ll do a post on that). The scene I chose was a decaying factory complex, making an intriguing profile and filled with pipes, tubes, wires, and smokestacks. I wanted to work as large as possible, and 12×16 is about the max I can do in the car. 3 hours later, and one amusing conversation with the big burly guys from the demolition crew who were working nearby (I like to get permisson when possible), I had a painting I was pleased with. I’ll post the image when I get it.
The auction itself was a very well planned and well attended event. All the paintings were well displayed beforehand (there was also a silent auction running throughout the evening), and the buffet was scrumptious indeed. After the eating and schmoozing, the serious business of selling art began. The auctioneer was a real pro – lively and charismatic, and he obviously knew many of the bidders well. There were 40 lots, and they all sold. There were a handful of pieces that were underbid, and that was unfortunate. By and large though, most got a respectable price, and a few got really high bids indeed. There was some good-natured grudge match bidding between obvious friends (goaded by the auctioneer) driving a few of the really high prices, but so what… good for the artist. A real surprise for me was that the watercolors tended to get bids every bit as high as the oils.
I was pleased with my own painting’s performance; it was solidly in the middle tier of bids (that despite being lot #36 out of 40, and some heavy cash being dropped early on). The subject was not a well-known civic landmark, so I think I can exclude any sentimentality factor in the bidding, and there did not seem to be a grudge contest going on, so I think I can assume that the 6 or so people who were bidding were interested in it solidly on it’s merits as a painting. And the really interesting thing to me was that the final bid was almost exactly the price I would have put on it. Pricing art is notoriously tricky, and this gives me even more confidence that I’m in the right range.
This afternoon I was off to see the GotArt? outdoor sculpture exhibition in the western suburbs. These are affordable art shows organized by a pair of vivacious promoters who have a great deal of enthusiasm for good art. They visited my studio a few weeks ago and invited me to participate in a show in November, which I’m excited to do… more on that later.
Finally, a plug for my favorite supply store. Artist & Craftsman Supply is a small national chain that offers excellent prices on some of the best brands, and also has some truly offbeat and bizarre merchandise (where else can you get cheap tubes of Old Holland AND Ben Franklin action figures all under one roof?). It’s a quirky place that doesn’t fit the typical corporate chain mold, and I appreciate them for that. I’ve been shopping at their store in Central Square, Cambridge since they opened, and I try to give them as much business as I can. I’m friendly with the manager, and he alluded that business hasn’t been great lately… so… if you’re in the area, and don’t shop there, I highly recommend at least giving them a look. I would be very grumpy if this store closed…