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Thursday, April 12, 2012

Beyond the BFA

When giving your thesis talk the question is invariably asked, "what are you going to do now that you’re graduated?"
Like many, I do plan on applying to a Masters program... like many, it may be in a year or two.
I did and do want to keep momentum and find work within the art community.
One of the last classes an art student from SNC will take is Advanced Studio. Among other things we delved into, we explored and developed the tools for practicing as an artist outside of academia.  It can be daunting. It is daunting! Today you have to be diverse and innovative to create and find your niche.
Several years ago, prior to starting my degree, I would not have equated my ski town with having and supporting an art community. I have come to find that the artistic community is surprisingly large, diverse, tenacious, and in places thriving!
I have begun working with  Riverside Studios in Truckee, CA. They are a co-op of women artists and artisans who have created a business from the necessity of needing an outlet for their work.
The co-op was started in 2002 with three people, in a dilapidated house on the Truckee River. Due to zoning restrictions, it was essentially a studio. The space could not be a ‘store’ but could have shows, which they had up to four times a year. Alanna, one of the original members, commented,  “you made a lot of product”, but lacked sales.
In order to have more of a commercial presence, the co-op moved to Brickeltown, a historic area of downtown Truckee, hoping to create a more fiscal outlet. While they still were not able to generate the commerce they had hoped for they did develop a presence and community happenings such as First Fridays. First Fridays was a community gathering for artists to promote themselves and their work. Any artist was encouraged to turn up, bring work and network.
In the summer of 2010, five artists joined together and moved to commercial row in Truckee, again trying to find a better commercial location.

Commercial row storefront

commercial row, Truckee
The studio is presently a co-op of four women who have created a store that showcases their work and that of mainly local artists. The work is primarily handmade and hand crafted. There are two bench jewelers, Sondrea Larson and Mary Guerra, a self described ‘leather lady’, Kahlil Johnson, and a potter, Alanna Hughes. Various 2D artists (painters, printmakers, photographers) sculptors, woodworkers, fabric artists and cottage industry products are sold under consignment.
Heather River, who was a student at SNC, was with the co-op when they moved down town but has recently departed the co-op to open her own store called Bespoke. She hopes to open in early May. She has described herself as a curator, finding ‘one of a kind goods from independent artisans’.
First Fridays is now an established event that is hosted by the Truckee Downtown Merchants Association with multiple business involved.
Riverside Studios now takes the opportunity with First Fridays to showcase an ‘Artist of the Month’. Established and/ or emerging artists are given space to exhibit work. Mary Kenny has participated (and will be ‘artist of the month’ this May!) as well as graduate student Jonah Harjer. Jessica Hayworth will be showing work in early 2013.

Mary Kenny
Jonah Harjer
Jessica Hayworth
I have joined Riverside as shop manager and a contributing artist. I get to delve into the operation of a small business and interact  with a diverse group of artists. I am also learning to create and maintain a studio practice routine and balance new work and production.
I am also this month’s artist. Come down!

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