By Humboldt Magnussen
Spring is in the air, the snow is melting and the sun is shining. Unfortunately the snow is melting exposing the garbage and dog crap that was once hidden. It’s an awkward stage in the season that needs some time for adjustments. It’s still too cold to really say it is spring, but at least it finally seems like winter is going away. Spring is a busy time in the arts especially if you are finishing up school for the semester. It is also a busy time if you are submitting proposals and grants since a lot of artist run centers have deadlines in the near future. The winter is almost over and soon it will be patio weather and sangria time. March is a hard month so in order to help you rid yourself finally of the winter blues I have come up with a list of things to do, that will help you get ready for spring.
1. Clean your studio and collect art materials you are not longer using, and get rid of them. I suggest passing them off to a friend that could find a use for them. Start fresh, mix up your pallet, and make plans for a new body of work.
2. If you spent all winter hibernating and working away on projects perhaps you have enough work to submit for an exhibition. Take out a calendar and mark down the dates of your favourite artist run centres’ deadlines and make sure you prepare well in advance. Put your work out there, instead of just storing it.
3. Tidy up your website, or if you don’t already have one, get one. Now is a perfect time to get some virtual real estate. It will get harder to sit in front of a computer once spring gets rolling and your event calendar fills up.
4. Eat a burrito. They are delicious.
5. Keep track of the time you spend making your work. I am only saying this because I recently read an article about a BC artist giving advice on how to make and sell work. She basically says her recipe for making a painting is $30 spent on a Canvas, $12 for paint, and 2 hours of time to FINISH the work. My mind exploded! I don’t know a lot of people that only spend two hours and $42 dollar on a work (although her work was not very innovative or something I would like to own). But she has found a way to turn $42 dollars on materials and two hours spent on paintings that sell for 2-3 grand. I guess the real point is she focused and did not let time slip through her fingers. Studio time should be studio time and should be considered valuable. Set goals that are achievable and reasonable when it comes to the time you spend on a work. Treat your studio time seriously enough that you get work done.
6. Speaking of goals, maybe spring is a good time to set a few goals that are measurable, achievable, and detailed. A goal like: I am going to become a better known artist would be an example of a bad goal to set, because it is too vague and difficult to measure in terms of what constitutes achieving said goal. Instead think in terms of things you can keep track of, such as I will make 4 paintings that are this particular size, and submit for these upcoming exhibitions by this date. Or I will volunteer this many hours for this organization and get more involved in my art community. Making detailed goals also means you know when you have achieved your goal. This will combat against not being satisfied with your results, because often even when people have exceeded their expectations they don’t realize it because they didn’t take the time to think about what was exactly the desired outcome they were working towards.
7. Go to art openings, and immerse yourself in searching out inspiring experiences. Look for opinions that are not your own and artwork that you love looking at. There are a lot of great shows opening in the near future by both established and emerging artist. An exhibition by an emerging artist I would recommend going to visit is Brette Gabel’s “Abandoned Homes and Haunted Houses” which is opening this Sunday March 16 from 1:30 to 4:30 at 2186 Dundas. Gabel is a talented textile artist that has created an inflatable house that will grow and shrink inside the gallery based on an abandoned kit house, which the artist discovered during a residency in the states. Gabel’s machine embroidery skill and craftsmanship will add to the uncannyness of a living breathing sculpture embedded with nostalgia.
On the more established side of looking at art there is the keynote talk by Toronto Artist Iris Häussler as part of Fail Again, Fake Better, the 13th Annual York University Graduate Student Symposium. The talk is this Thursday night March 13th from 5 to 7 at Katzman Contemporary 86 Miller Street. The event is free and will be inspiring, I was lucky to have Iris come to one of my classes last year to speak and it was the highlight of that year. I don’t want to give too much away about her practice, but I will say that she creates complicated fictions through art where, during an exhibition, the audience is seeing relics from a constructed story. It is basically like you are touring around a three dimensional novel that may or may not be true.
8. Go to Mocca and check out the Mislead by Nature show. I saw it recently and the glitter and glass floor made my day. If you are experiencing the winter blues check out this show, it is too glamourous and strange and will definitely help you feel a spring in your step.