This is for local readers, my loyal local patrons and friends who have taken the time to come see my work at the local art gallery, or to visit me when I was working there. If you’re not from around here (Northern California) or just not interested in the topic, then you’ll stop reading, or push on for a cautionary tale.
For a bit less than a year I’ve been working on Saturdays at a gallery in El Cerrito. The space is beautiful, well-lighted, with creative displays and a great variety of artwork and crafts. It’s owned by the family of an artist who used to have only his work in the gallery, but generously opened the space up to other artists less than 2 years ago. Unfortunately, I didn’t know about the gallery until after the holidays last year, so I couldn’t take part in what was a successful holiday season for them. Shortly after that, though, I started working every Saturday (on top of my full time job). Even though it was hard giving up my Saturdays I wanted to see how my things sold, and I really looked forward to this year’s holiday season. I also looked forward all week to going into the gallery — if people came in to buy art, that was fantastic. If they came in to look around and chat (or not), that was wonderful too. And if no one came in, I got my work done. Since most of the work I do involves the use of a computer, printer, sewing machine or other large equipment, it was always a challenge to plan what I would work on, and make sure everything I needed fit into the box that I carried back and forth every week.
Most lately I had been using the time to coat lutradur or metal sheets with Golden Paints’ digital grounds (see my articles on that product). I also took advantage of the great natural lighting in the gallery to take photographs of my work.
The few of us who worked there were volunteers, who in exchange for our time got a larger percentage of any of our work that sold. That was great for me for several months, but when the economy tanked, sales dried up. Lately only a few people were even coming into the gallery on Saturdays (usually the busiest day of the week). I was committed to staying, though, and thought that my work, often popular as gifts, would do okay during the holidays. Well you know what I’m going to say next. The gallery is now closed. The artist whose family owns it couldn’t keep it open through the holidays. He’s evidently thinking of getting an artist or two in there with him to pay rent. I hope that works out – we need all the venues for art we can get!