Monday, December 10, 2012

What's my assignment?

It's funny how the Universe, normally so cold and detached, occasionally seems to hear our plea and provide the perfect opportunity. Lately I've been wishing that I knew more people, especially folks who share my interest in art and culture. Like opportunity knocking, my across-the-street neighbor, Christine Oliver, who, with her husband Paul Wcislo, throws fabulous parties, asked me the other day if I would like to get involved in publicizing the Silicon Valley Open Studios. I already had plans—I have creative projects in the works—but I recognized that this might be just the outlet I need, so I agreed to meet today with Christine and the chief executive of Silicon Valley Open Studios, Mel Thomsen.

I have to admit right away that I haven't taken an interest in Open Studios before now, even though Christine was the chief executive for a couple of years. Whenever Christine shows her work in her studio, I generally drop by to check it out, and I've been following her experimentation with water color and collage for several years now, observing her constant growth as an artist; but I've never taken an interest exploring the broader art scene in Silicon Valley. This is partly because although I study art and art museums, and follow the exhibits at all the art museums in the area, I haven't been a collector of art, except for a few original works by long-time friends. So, you could say I exemplify the sort of hard case that Open Studios is trying to win over.

Christine and Mel must have sensed this, because they started hitting me right away with a big pitch on the value of Open Studios. The two of them were like a tag team, first one then the other explaining the advantages of Open Studios for both artists and collectors. The idea that interested me the most was that art by local artists is a good way for new collectors, whether young or old, to get started. You can get art of lasting appeal for an entry-level price; if you choose well, the art appreciates in value and you can trade up as the years go by and your taste changes. And here's the kicker: if you get to know the artist, your appreciation of the art you buy is deepened; if you get to know the scene as a whole, you can make better judgments about which art will increase in value.

Christine and Mel have just a fountain of ideas about topics I might cover as an art reporter, such as artist profiles, where various art groups are located, new art techniques, and current art news. They will provide pointers and feedback. Mel gave me a copy of the handsome directory that publicized the 2012 Open Studios, which has thumbnails showing work of the artists who participate, as well as maps marking the location of their studios; some of the work looked very interesting, better quality than I expected, and more innovative.

I showed them my web page on the history of women artists, and reviewed my history as a specialist in art museums.

By the end of the meeting, it was clear to all that we have a good fit, assuming I can produce the kind of material Open Studios needs. We agreed to start with a profile of Christine.