On Saturday, my husband and I spent a wonderful day touring artists' studios in Washington County, NY.
I couldn't help but notice that the success of this event depended largely on the infusion of those elements described by Buffy Hamilton in her presentation, libraries as communally constructed sites of participatory learning: creating conversations and connections through enchantment. (video now on YouTube)
Open Studios is a juried event. The organizers of this free, self-guided tour made sure that only established artists, with an respected body of work, were featured. This was a celebration of fine art, not a craft fair.
Each artist was present and eager to talk with visitors. When I asked for permission to take photos, I was encouraged to do so; the artists themselves happily posed with their paintings. Hosts had stories to share: about the evolution of their career, the steps in the creative process, what they choose to incorporate into their art and why. This infused products with meaning and put them into context for interested viewers...both the artists and the art thus became accessible and likable.
Fantastic Product or Service
The Open Studios site advertised that "professional artists will once again open their doors...offering a glimpse into their creative lifestyles, and a unique opportunity to purchase great art directly from their studios," and they delivered on the promise. Artists offered special discounts and personally signed purchases. Casual browsers were greeted as warmly as paying customers. At each venue, some sort of refreshment was offered, from homemade cookies & lemonade to colorfully-wrapped Chinese sweets. In addition, Open Studios of Washington County and its sponsors hosted a complimentary reception for all tour visitors on the first evening of the two-day event, with hors d’oeuvres wine, and "a chance to meet with all the artists and other Open Studios visitors and to share stories and discoveries of the day."
Other Positive Attributes
- choice...of locations and art genres [wouldn't it be fun to initiate a self-guided tour of local libraries, a mix of public, academic & school?]
- each studio displayed both finished pieces and works in progress, giving visitors a behind-the-scenes look at how art is created
- business cards, with website addresses, were freely distributed - interested people could ue the information they contained to learn more about the artists (and perhaps become future customers)
- variety of architectural design: studios were located in renovated barns, farmhouses, and converted factories; common to all were good natural lighting, plentiful space, and numerous display options
- setting: Washington County is largely rural, with small villages rather than big cities. Nature is nearby and evident, creating a calming, creatively-stimulating atmosphere
In the Library
Wikipedia defines an artist as "a person engaged in one or more of any of a broad spectrum of activities related to creating art, practicing the arts and/or demonstrating an art." Librarians fit all of those descriptors, as they assist in the acquisition, creation, and dissemination of information (the artistic product).
In a logical extension of the concept of librarian/artist, libraries would become less like knowledge warehouses and more like artists' studios, incorporating interesting design, transparency, and personalized service.
See additional photos in the Open Studios of Washington County, NY Flickr set
"Open Studios of Washington County, NY" by dmcordell
"Three Artists: Leslie Parke, Adriano Manocchia, Leslie Peck" by dmcordell
Will Moses signing a copy of The Legend of Sleepy Hollow for Hagan" by dmcordell
"110/i365" by Purple Phoenix