Month: April 2015

impending wonder and insanity

madness-copyIf i make it through the next week, without actually losing my mind, i’ll be singing with joy so loudly that everyone will think i’m deranged anyway.

Next Tuesday, i have sworn to myself that i will have a finished business plan finished – the process of reconceptualizing how i disseminate my art will theoretically be complete and awaiting full implementation.  Somehow that sentence makes me sound more like a cartoon villain planning to take over the world than a frazzled artist laboring to sell her art. i promise, this is not an evil little laugh escaping my lips, just an excited utterance fueled by stress and overwhelm. Would taking over the world be less stressful?  Would megalomania make the hard work of domination more energizing than depleting? Ah, i am trying to distract myself with stories.  Instead, we are talking about art and this artist doing something very uncomfortable, uncertain and difficult.

What these weeks of hard work boiled down to is this: instead of focusing all my energy on selling at my gallery/studio in Stockton Springs or local cooperatives, i am shifting a solid portion of my effort toward increasing online sales, getting more wholesale clients, as well as actively courting galleries in parts of the country that are not seasonal (like all business is here in Maine.)  Pursuant to which, i have bought a magic wand, some pixie dust (specific to business sales) and have learned to do the “Pay Attention to Me Internet” dance.  An that would be enough, right?  Certainly enough for one week.

conversation5Of course not.

On Friday my current tenant is moving on to the next stage of her life.  On Saturday new ones begin the process of moving in.

And even that massive change wasn’t enough for one week.

On Friday, May 1st, from 5 pm to 8 pm, Art Space Gallery in Rockland will be having their New Members Show.  As one of the new members, i will be there with bells on.  Between now and then, i’ll be stocking up Maine Artisans in Lincolnville Beach, Southwest Harbor Artisans and Belfast Harbor Artisans.  All have either events the weekend of Mother’s day (May 8-10 – check the information below) or will be opening for the season at that point.  Since the stores need time to get set up, i’ll have to be doing this work over this week as well.

Of course, in addition to all that, i’m opening my studio Thursday, Friday, Saturday – although Sunday there will be some meetings that will keep asha fenn’s studio and gallery closed.

Oh, and i have a lot of art i need to make!

This is the hardest part of running a small business, even worse than the marketing and the finances that normally have the power to break me out in a cold sweat – being the only person responsible for more work than three people could comfortably finish with a month of time.  This week will pass, life will arrive at a better balance, and i know this.

Well, i’m telling myself it’s true, at any rate.  Like a mantra: Yes, asha, all will calm down.  All will be well.  It’s just a matter of getting through the next seven days without actually (literally in the most literal sense) losing my mind.

So, if you see me laughing, dancing and murmuring to myself, just assume it’s out of gratitude and joy over the wonderful things that have been happening.  Not anything else.  Really.  You are not hearing the high pitched, teapot like giggle of someone exploding from stress.

 

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Here is more information on those three events at the different Artisan Cooperatives:
Harbor Artisans, 60 Main Street, Belfast, Maine
http://www.belfastharborartisans.com
Special Event over Mothers’ Day Weekend!  

Harbor Artisans, an artist cooperative at 60 Main Street in Belfast, is opening for a special preview weekend on May 8, 9, and 10th from 10 am to 5 pm. Come buy a gift for Mothers’ Day or splurge on yourself.  Either way, this is your chance to enjoy the shop before the vacation crowds arrive and to get the first glance at our new products for 2015.  Several new artists have joined our membership and we are proud to provide a stunning array of fine art and craft. This is your opportunity to support Maine’s creative economy.  Shop local and buy handmade at Harbor Artisans.  We officially open for the 2015 season on May 22nd.

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Harbor Artisans, 360 Main Street, Southwest Harbor, Maine
http://www.southwestharborartisans.com
Celebrating our Move!  

After several years in Southwest Harbor, our artisan cooperative has moved a little down the road. Now at 360 Main Street, facing the Veterans’ Memorial-Village Green Park and beside the Quietside Cafe, Harbor Artisans celebrates our new environment by hosting a special preview on May 8 and 9 from 10 am to 5 pm. In addition, we are having a Grand Reopening Reception on the evening of the 8th, from 5 pm to 8 pm, when you can come to meet the artists and enjoy some refreshments!  You have a great opportunity to buy a gift for Mothers’ Day or splurge on yourself.  Either way, enjoy this sneak peak for our treasured local customers before the summer crowds come.  Harbor Artisans has transformed more than just our address. We are filling this larger space with a stunning array of fine art and craft, adding many new artists – all based here in Maine – to our ranks.  This is your opportunity to support Maine’s creative economy.  Shop local and buy handmade at Harbor Artisans.  We officially open for the 2015 season on May 22nd.

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Maine Artisans, 2518 Atlantic Highway, Lincolnville Beach, ME
http://maineartisanscoop.com/
Grand Reopening for our 2015 Season!

Maine Artisans, an artist cooperative in Lincolnville Beach, will be opening for the season on May 8th.  On May 9th, from 10 am to 6 pm, celebrate our 33rd year with our Grand Re-Opening event.  Come during the day to watch artists’ demos.  Find the perfect gift, just in time for Mothers’ Day!  Many new members joined our ranks for 2015 and we have wonderfully increased our selection of fine art and craft.  In addition to our abundance in jewelry – carrying every style imaginable from silver to brass to polymer clay to incredible beading – photography, sculpture, ceramics, fiber art and woodworking, we have added more painters, new lines of clothing accessories, barbecue sauces, and Maine-themed specialty art. Support the creative economy by both shopping local and buying handmade – all of our artisans are based in Maine. We will be open seven days a week, through mid-October.

Another twenty minutes

the studio 1
a view of the gallery part of my studio

Really, by the time i finished getting the photographs together, i am down to fifteen minutes for a blog.  However, i really think it is important to write something down today and fling it into the ether.  My first drop in class for the season – not a regularly scheduled student – will begin at noon.  My kiln is filled with sculptures and tinypots and as soon as it has cooled enough to harvest the shelves, i will start another kiln firing, all pots in fire red and ocean blues.  Even though the house is in a terrible state, the price paid for doing so much work out here, i am halfway through a business plan, i have been able to keep the gallery open for customers, the gallery/studio itself looks really good despite being back into production.  Kind people have offered to help me through the last legs of this rough patch.  i am getting responses to my ads for the rooms for rent upstairs in the house – and even had one walk through already. Customers are coming to look at my art, and soon they will be coming back to buy.

Even though i am still so far behind and have been in the pit for too long, some sunlight is starting to make it to me from the surface.  Small, delicate fingers of sunbeam whose caress means the world to me.  A deep stirring in my spirit tells me that this is not just the blessed entrance of spring, but it has something to do with how i am moving through the world.  Even on the days i have had to force myself out of bed, i have.  When i felt bankrupt of all words and inspiration, i kept working.

the studio 2
that this table is clean makes me happy beyond words

i realized something over the past few months – even when i am despondent, and my thoughts circle defeatism’s drain, i actually cannot quite surrender.  Of course i can have a temper tantrum for a night or two, and i can bring out several people to testify to the whining, eventually something in me started going forward again. Even when i am not ruled by joy and hope, although i always wonder if i madness and faith are more accurate, i cannot actually manage the process of surrendering.  This is a lesson i have to keep learning: i do not really have the common sense to give up even when other people demand that i should.  Thankfully, i have enough other people in my life who are just as dedicated to the arts as i am, who have inexplicable faith in me, and they have spent a lot of energy this winter keeping me going.  i am grateful to them beyond words.  In fact, i find myself singing these thanksgivings as i putter about the organized studio/gallery.

And now, as i wait for today’s students, i feel like some of the flowers in the yard.  My roots grow strong again, and i have started to open up to the wind, the sun, and celebrate the possibility of change with every cell and all my heart.

Identity

Jodi Renshaw talk about her Identify Project. She took photographs of people who live in Bangor and had them fill out a questionnaire. Then, the public was invited to view the work at the – the whole event left me wowed. Going through the notebook, after looking at each photograph, proved to me how erroneous any judgments we make are. i have been on the other side of that equation a lot – having people expect radically different things from their first glance.

Check it out… if you can’t get to Bangor, then go to this article on the Bangor Daily News. Let it open you up to thinking hard about how you are judging people at first glance.