Monday, November 16, 2015

Studio Time

   I missed last weekend's post because I've been spending a great deal of time in studios--both mine and other people's. The weekend was...interesting...and pointed up some of the aspects of the local arts scene that drive me right out of my everlovin' mind.
   We have at least three (3) pretty active arts organizations in Vallejo: the Vallejo Community Arts Foundation (VCAF); the Vallejo Artists Alliance (VAA); and the Vallejo Waterfront Artists. All are full of pretty nice people, and all like to put on events to draw attention to the local arts scene, but nobody seems to coordinate with anyone else.
   Last weekend was a great example of non-coordination. The Vallejo Waterfront Artists sponsor the annual Vallejo Open Studios. This is a fairly big deal--most of the artists in town have live-work situations, so their studios aren't normally open to the public--and planning for it starts months in advance of the actual event. Open Studios is normally on the second weekend of November, which is usually a great time for a semi-outdoor event--we're past the heat of "Indian Summer," but the winter rains haven't started.
   Meanwhile, it was recognized by most of the arts community that we needed more than a once-a-year event, so the Vallejo Artists Alliance began the Vallejo ArtWalk in late 2013. ArtWalk is the second Friday of each month, and it usually draws a pretty decent crowd downtown to the galleries, studios, and street artists/vendors who set up.
   Two pretty nice arts-related events, put on by two groups that know each other really well. One would think the two groups would get together with their calendars and coordinate a massive, 3-day arts event. This should be a slam-dunk: it wasn't. Open Studios was held on Saturday and Sunday, November 7 and 8; ArtWalk was held the following Friday, November 13. A lot of people--including artists--participated in one event or the other, but not both. Had everything been on the same weekend, more artists would have had an excuse to open their studios early, or stay open over the weekend. It was a "missed opportunity."
   Don't get me wrong: I enjoyed Open Studios. We started our "arts day" early with coffee at Moschetti's, a local coffee roaster that opens to the public on Saturday mornings. It's become a favorite Saturday morning hang-out for a number of artists, and we usually stop by to have coffee, meet up with friends we don't otherwise see, and maybe pick up a pound or two of their incomparable coffee beans. After coffee, we pulled out our map and started visiting the outlying studios that were open. Along the way, we ran into friends and acquaintances, saw a lot of nice art, got some lunch from Picknicky's (a new local sandwich shop), then went to see more studios and galleries. I was struck by the relative lack of crowds, especially downtown. There are a lot of artists, studios, and galleries in downtown Vallejo, yet the sidewalks weren't crowded. Quite frankly, I've seen more people out during ArtWalk than I saw during Open Studios.
Summer Sunsets,
finally fringed.
   We wound up our evening at the "after party" thrown by the Coal Shed Studios Artists on Mare Island. They're a fun, interesting bunch of artists in a fun, funky space: a "repurposed" historic coal storage building on the waterfront, in the former Navy shipyard. The artists have created studio spaces and a small gallery out of the 8,000 square feet of the building, and this year they simply put the word out that people should bring their leftover drinks and nibbles for a bit of "wind-down" socializing. We brought a couple bottles of wine, and a few more bottles of fancy Italian sodas, and had a marvelous time eating, drinking, and chatting with all and sundry. It reminded me of some of the openings/parties I attended when I still lived in Los Angeles, and was the bright spot of the weekend.
A simple shrug
out of stash yarns.
   Unfortunately, being "out and about" doesn't get the cloth woven, so Sunday (and a lot of the last week) was spent in my own studio. It was a week for finishing things: a shawl that was woven last year finally has twisted fringe; all the towels are neatly hemmed and have their required labels; a "quick" shrug-sweater was finished off and immediately put to use. With those projects out of the way, I can focus on the next projects at hand.

On the looms: Fancy Twill Napkins, out of 8/2 cotton; Pride of Madeira Scarves, out of 3/2 and 10/2 cotton.

On the needles: Winter in California #1 Scarf, out of handspun wool, alpaca, mohair, silk blend; Number 23 Socks, out of Blue Moon Socks That Rock (STR) Mediumweight.


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