Granted, I'm a relative newcomer to the Seattle art scene, but it seems like 2009 was one hell of a year for artistic community! People seemed really hungry for it and have been aggressively seeking it out in all its many forms.
Artists need physical places to gather and Canoe Social Club turned out to be a great place to do that. Warm, friendly, inclusive and fun. A perfect example - if you don't have plans for NYE - they're throwing a great event.
Scott Lawrimore's Art Klatch continued to a be a great forum to gather art lovers together over food and coffee. I know their "early" start time (7:30am) scares plenty of artists but it's so worth it!
During a really rough economic time, Greg Lundgren reactivated his series of $500 arbitrary art grants that allowed anyone to be an artist. Sometimes all we need is permission. And money. Greg gave us both.
For times when you can't get away from your studio but still need conversation, why not go digital? I can't tell you how many wonderful exchanges I've been a part of on artist blogs this past year. There has been a huge proliferation of artists writing about themselves, each other and our community. They've inspired me, challenged me and eased a lot of anxiety. I can't find a comprehensive listing of them, but Dimensions Variable, artdish and Another Bouncing Ball all have nice lists and are a good place to start. Do you have an art blog? Give us the url in the comments of this post.
Mr. Community Matt Offenbacher reminded us all that "You do not have to accept the context which you are given. Create your own context!" Employing a DIY passion, there were so many wonderful shows/performances in garages, basements, parks, streets and anywhere else creative people gathered.
Free Sheep Foundation did an amazing job of rethinking where we view art during 2009. From reclaiming a vacant office building for months to do temporary installations and performances to using the exterior of TUBS as a canvas all the way to their huge art orgy at Moore Theater, FSF did it their way.
Not everything was DIY this past year. One of my favorite transitions was the emergence of City Arts Magazine as THE bona-fide art magazine for Puget Sound (they have three versions, Eastside, Tacoma, Seattle). A little shaky at first, they really found their voice in 2009. After their merger with Sound Magazine, they've gotten even better. Not content with the status quo, they're constantly trying new and innovative things. City Arts, I salute you! (And yes, I'd still be saying this even if they didn't write the sweet article about the blog interviews.)
One of my new favorite ways to spend time with artists/art lovers is the Artist Salon series in my studio. Fall quarter included workshops by Jeffry Mitchell, Matt Offenbacher, Sol Hashemi/Jason Hirata and Erin Shafkind. Each one has been so memorable and so different from the one before - these artists REALLY stepped up and created fun events! Some folks have attended them all, others have just checked out one. It's a great way to spend creative time with a small group of like-minded individuals. I'm currently working on the second series for Jan/Feb/March. Stay tuned for more information and guest artists.
These are just a few examples where community really shined for me this past year. I know there are tons and tons of others. Let's keep all this fantastic momentum in 2010. I think an easy, non-threatening way of doing that is studio visits. Think of one of your favorite artists, maybe one you don't know very well (or even at all), find their contact info and see if they'd be open to a studio visit. Build bridges and connections.
Really good things are happening in Seattle right now. The air feels ripe with promise. Making art shouldn't be an isolating experience. Don't feel like there's a spot for you? Reach out, ask for help or create your own - we all have the power.
"Be the change you want to see." - Gandhi