Sunday, November 15, 2009

First Art Opening Helps Me Learn the Art of Chilling

(In photo: Me with artist Marshetta Davis who is in the book Liberated Muse Volume I: How I Freed My Soul and in the Celebration of Freedom exhibit.)

Yesterday afternoon was the first art opening hosted by my group Liberated Muse Productions. Our exhibit, Celebration of Freedom, was inspired by the book I edited Liberated Muse Volume I:How I Free My Soul. Artists featured in the book and artists part of our network who are part of the exhibit were on hand yesterday to talk about their art, mingle with guests and sell their art.

(In photo: Artists featured in the art exhibit-- Pru Bonds, Sherry Burton-Ways, James Terrell and Sharon Burton who is in the exhibit, created the cover art for the book Liberated Muse Volume I: How I Freed My Soul and curated the exhibit)

Almost all of the artists (8 of the 10) showed up last night, supported by friends and family members to take part in the artist talk and enjoy refreshments provided by the venue hosting the exhibit, the Potter's House.

(In photo: Artist Shan'ta Monroe and her piece "Pandora's Box". Shan'ta is a painter and photographer and is featured in Liberated Muse Volume I:How I Freed My Soul and was the photographer for the Capital Hip Hop Soul Fest this past year, an event I produce each year with Liberated Muse Productions.)

I had never produced an art opening before this one and I learned a grand lesson in the art of chilling out. I've produced dozens of performance art events-- including festivals, concerts, cabarets and panels--often serving as the MC-- and a high amount of energy necessary to multi-task, keep things moving along and always have a plan B is always required. With an art opening, especially one that was as casual and community-based as this one (as opposed to upscale and exclusive), the energy required is on a much smaller level. For a busy bee like me, it was a teachable moment.

(In photo: Stephan Cox and his pieces which are part of a series he started as a student in Morgan State University.)

At an art opening, when people come in to view art, converse and navigate a room, the atmosphere is so different from a programmed performance. I was able to chill and just allow folks to find their way in the gallery area, offering smiles when necessary and just having the opportunity to catch up with folks I hadn't really just talked to. I especially enjoyed conversing with one of the artists in the show, Stephan Cox.
Stephan is a young man who I worked with when I worked at Morgan State University. I have been so happy keeping in touch with him and seeing him grow more comfortable showing his art. He is not only a visual artist but a performing artist as well. I got to know him very well when he had a singing role in my play Shades of Black: A thought in progress. His sister, brother-in-law and nephew came to support him at the reception last night and I was surprised to recognize his brother-in-law who was in my photography class I took earlier this year with the Washington School of Photography in Bethesda, MD. Such a small world.

(In photo: Me and Sharon Burton who led curation of the exhibit.)
(In photo: The artist Choke and her pieces. Choke sold the first piece to be sold from the exhibit when it soft opened in September)

I didn't have to be "on" and got to socialize which I really don't get time to do at the events we have. (excluding our event two weeks ago which had a really low turn-out)

While socializing with the artist Choke, I learned that she just got a license to do hair "art" as I call it (hair design) and she just returned from California where she is now taking classes in glass art. I am really impressed with her exploratory nature and as a young artist (only 22), she is utilizing her youth wisely, exploring areas of interest and not being mired in thoughts of playing it "safe".

(In photo: The group the Ash Lovelies were at the Potter's House rehearsing prior to our reception and decided to stay during the reception, actually providing the event music. Synchronicity is amazing. I had purposefully not invited any performing artists, not sure how we could swing that when the area in front of the art is usually the stage area. The Ash Lovelies were practicing in a corner of the room that did not encompass the gallery area. It was wonderful to meet them. They actually performed the same day I did at the Green Fest and I had caught them on that day when my family stuck around to enjoy the fest).

I had a good time. Sharon and I made the decision to push back an art exhibit we had originally scheduled for December (the Potter's House exhibit ends on Dec. 1) at Meroe Gallery in Baltimore, MD. We are shooting for the spring to ensure that we get more submissions and get a breath of air to relax. Maybe.

The next event I'm producing is this Friday. If you are reading this, I hope you plan to attend. Click here to RSVP on Facebook.

Thanks for reading!

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