Thought about Openings - (chime in if you have a view on the subject.)

Yep, I had an opening last Thursday night.......
( awkward silence)
I've been trying to wrap my head around how I feel about Openings and really what to say about them. My children use to have this book in which you could change the events in the book depending on which way you held the book ( upside down, right side up). I sort of thought that I could approach my blog post about this opening that way. You know the upbeat side to the evening and the real feelings I have about these types of events.

So here I am, ready to post my thoughts on last Thursday evening along with really how I feel about these types of evenings I've attended over the last few years.....
Are you ready? This could get ugly......

(Jenni Brant tea bowls below, above photo is the hall wall in which some pieces were nicely displayed in glass blocks and on shelves. Here is Joey enjoying a free beer.)
I don't look forward to my own openings. I look forward to the making of my work, seeing it displayed and selling it but....I don't like attending places with folks I don't know and being expected to mingle. I was thinking last week that this same feeling would come up at High School dances. I'd go and than think ...why did I go? If I wasn't able to be like glue to one friend, I'd go hide for a few minutes in the bathroom so I didn't have to socialize. Its sort of comical in a way that I've had jobs in which I do have to talk to people - selling work, being a gallery manager, teaching. My husband and I are like two peas in a pod at an Opening. We are excited to have an adult night on our own but basically we are two introverts who freeze up once we are forced into a crowd of people.

I'm sure there are so many of you out there that will say how important it is to talk to people at these events and how much you love to go to them. Oh...if only I could relate.
( There are new Flower-balls. Basically vases with various openings to display a few flowers)
I'm also someone who would like for my friends to attend but I don't expect them to. I figure they have their own stuff to do and if they want to buy my work , they basically can just call me or come to a sale. I don't really expect other potters to come to my openings either. Being that I'm always so busy I barely have time to attend others folks openings so why should it be reciprocated. I do like going to other people openings because the pressure is off and you don't get that sinking feeling if crowds of folks are not talking to you about your work. I'm sure once our kids are grown and gone, we'll be sipping wine and enjoying these evenings like most artists do.
For me, being at a opening really doesn't give me the opportunity to push my work. Are people really there to buy or just look? When I'm at a show, standing in my booth, that is when I try and say "Hello, I'm Jen, if I can tell you about my work, just let me know". At an opening there is no way I'm walking up to a stranger to say " Hey! That's my work...want to know about it?!" I didn't even get a name tag Thursday evening so I was basically just another person off the street viewing art and sipping wine.
(flower vases by Jenni Brant)
To compound last Thursdays stressful feelings of being an introvert, we had a child who was sick. We also have one child who suffers from separation anxiety and it was a school night so those factors always play into any outside social event we plan. Sometimes it just easier to stay at home!! But...I had to go because it was my show and the other potter was from the Nebraska plus the gallery showing my work is heavily linked to the University I teach for. We had planned to have a fun-loving High School girl come watch the kids for us which everyone was excited about but instead with a sick child we recruited my Dad to help us out. What does this mean you ask? Well, it means we had to bath, feed, get homework done and find a GOOD movie for everyone to watch before Grandpa showed up. An exhausting effort! It also meant we needed to drive 40 minutes both ways , only stay 30 minutes to get back and put everyone to bed. OK folks..does this sound worth the effort to you? ( I kept upbeat during these obligation so my handsome date wouldn't bug out on me...)
I have to say we cleaned up pretty nice, dashed out the door and showed up to a pretty good crowd of folks and once again the two of us felt like deer in headlights. I went over and told the gallery owner I was there and just basically stood around, drank a beer, saw a few stickers and headed out the door with one final sentence for my husband......
(below...butter dish with new knobs on the top and a large pitcher)
" Sometimes you just got to do what you got to do"


cookingwithgas said...

No name tag- really? really? They did not care enough to at least hand write your name on a piece of paper or at some point introduce you?
really? How very short sighted of them.
I have so many of the same issues with "gallery" shows- you want the work now give the artist some respect. I still think you in front of your work is what sells work the best.

Joanne Leclerc said...

Hi Jen! I agree!! No name tag!!! That's really bad. And what about the gallery owner or manager, whatever, introducing you to the crowd, I think that is also a miss!!! I am the opposite of you, I love to meet new people and talk, so if ever I start producing and getting into galeries, I will love these opening night... I think if you had been introduce then people would have come over and ask questions, to which I am sure you would have loved to answer and explain your work, since that is what you love to do. Next time, ask the galery to do so and see the difference. I would love to be able to finally get to my studio and produce but I need to have people or students with me for me to do so. To bad we can't have both sides. As for the babysitting, next time one of the kid is sick, think of having the great babysitter and also invite Grand-Father to come and watch over. Still love your pieces, you are a great potter and will go far with your work. Congratulations!!! Joanne from Quebec Canada

Tracey Broome said...

Hate them, don't do them if it can be avoided.
I feel like a freak in a circus. I went to one where absolutely no one in the room knew who I was including the gallery manager.The only one I sort of enjoyed was at the NC Craft gallery, Sara made me feel very comfortable and lots of my friends came. I agree with all you said! I do try and go to openings of my friends if I can just to give them some support, they all feel the same way I do. I think having openings in places far away is the best solution, you have a good excuse for not being able to come. Although, the show coming up at Mudfire is going to be a good one and I don't think I will be able to make it. I will probably go to the one at Lark and Key, just because they also seem really nice. It's hard..... and with kids and all, ick, ick!

haha, my word verification is balls, that's what you need for openings :)

Ron said...

You should def. have a name tag and the gallery owner should certainly introduce you to any and all of his/her regular patrons/customers.

I love it when my friends come and I expect them to and I'm going to start demanding that they do!! (Big grin). Really it is nice when they come, but they can't always and I can't always go to theirs either. So it's okay. I had an opening that night too. You could have come to mine and I could have gone to yours!!

I like openings especially if they have good beer. (the one I was at didn't) Still I can drink two bad beers or one good one and then I'll be happy to talk to people or show them my socks or whatever.

You should start drinking BEFORE you get there! I know you can't do that b/c y'all are responsible parents etc.

I hope you sold some things and I'm looking forward to seeing you and the others on Friday. THAT will be F U N.

Judi Tavill said...

I totally get it... I am pretty good with people... People think I am an extrovert but FRANKLY... I walk into stuff like that and I will be honest. SMOKE AND MIRRORS...
I get uncomfortable, nervous, nauseas... icky... but... I tell myself what Tattoo on Fantasy Island used to say, "Smiles everyone, Smiles"...and plunge ahead... pretty much do that in most social situations... USUALLY... I feel loosened up but it is SO AWKWARD, talking about your work...especially when you feel like the people you are talking to TOTALLY don't get it. Nice work though...

lemon said...

Totally get it. That's how husband and I feel at social events! For some reason we took comfort after seeing Perry and Della do the same in an old episode of Perry Mason. Congratulations on the opening!

-Rob, Simple Circle Studios said...

I don't really have any experience with the gallery opening thing, but I can certainly commiserate with you on the social interaction front. If it is people I know it is not so bad. But being forced to chit-chat with people that I don't know? Not my cup of tea. Hopefully your show went well anyway, forced socialization and all.

Amy said...

Jen- you're just brave. I must admit, crowds aren't my thing either. I'd rather be in a room with a couple others, actually less is more. Us introverts. Geez... Love hearing of your bravery and authenticity. I too would rather have folks just contact me to buy a piece. And I have similar feelings and I don't even have kids!

Quietly Otaku said...

Ah I'm not comfortable approaching strangers and talking about my work, I think its easier when people are curious enough to come to you! They're the ones who are biting the bullet so to speak!

When I first started doing shows like Judi I'd bluff my way through it, I think my confidence has improved over time but its always going to be difficult!

Susan Gallacher-Turner said...

It's hard work, gallery openings. I'm always nervous. I do hate name tags, but it does make sure that people know I'm one of the artists.

And it was even harder for you with a sick child at home...bravo to you for braving it anyway!

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How long have you been doing pottery? I love how your personality shows similar in all your different work. I've recently been thinking about starting up pottery polishing. Thanks for adding to the inspiration. Excellent job. They are beautiful.

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