Saturday, March 14, 2009

ART GROUP: 2nd Tuesday

Vermont Art Zine has heard that there’s an interest in reading about groups of visual artists who get together to share work in progress. Many artists, especially in rural parts of the state, feel somewhat isolated and want more contact with other artists. This is the first in what we hope will become a series describing what different art groups (formal and informal) do, who’s involved, and how they go about setting up their groups. Send news and images from your art group (including its name, members, and where and when it meets) to the editors for posting in an ART GROUP article.

By Janet Van Fleet

Second Tuesday (2nd Tuesday, named after the day each month when we meet) has been in existence for over 15 years. The current membership has been pretty stable for 5-6 years, and the group feels that it is at the right number for good functioning. Members are Cheryl Betz, Alexandra Bottinelli, Maggie Neale, Elizabeth Nelson, Lynn Newcomb, Cully Renwick, Kathy Stark, Janet Van Fleet, Harriet Wood, and Ann Young. We meet at the various studios of members in an informal rotation. Members try to make it to every meeting, but it doesn’t always work. This month there were only six members present, meeting in my studio on the third floor at Studio Place Arts (SPA) in Barre.

Recently, we’ve been getting together at 11 AM and having lunch before we get into the business of the meeting. We went together over to L.A.C.E. (a great place committed to serving and selling food from local producers) to get food to take out, and came back to the studio to eat and drink the chai I’d made. We checked in about what each of us has been doing since we last met, and then began showing new work. Harriet (who mostly works on very large canvases that are hard to transport) didn’t bring anything, but passed out exhibit cards for her upcoming solo show at Catamount Arts in St. Johnsbury.

One of the things that’s important about ongoing groups like this is that over many years people become familiar with other artists’ work as it unfolds and changes. When you show what you’re doing, you know that the people scrutinizing the work know its antecedents. Sometimes people ask for feedback about things they’re struggling with. Sometimes other artists spontaneously make comments. Always they look carefully.

Left, Ann Young looks at Elizabeth Nelson's work; Right, Cheryl Betz scrutinizes Alexandra Bottinelli's new oil paintings with collaged elements.

In addition to observing work, Alex Bottinelli handed out copies of an excerpt of David Sylvester’s interview with Francis Bacon for discussion at a subsequent meeting. And, as often happens, the discussion turned to the question of how to exhibit and sell work. There was general agreement, in this case, that Vermont artists need to diversify to survive, putting together a mix of strategies: a full- or part-time day job, some gallery sales, some direct sales, some buyers and viewers through a web presence. There was talk of putting together a group website, and making connections with other online art coops in other parts of the country to share resources. We figured that, just with the number of people in our group, we had many times the potential outreach (even with some overlap) of each of us individually.

Above Right: Ann Young shares small acrylic paintings on canvasboard she made on a recent trip. Below: Cheryl Betz's most recent oil painting (left) and a detail (right)