It was the first time I ever showed my art in a public place, let alone sold any of my art, and I was a nervous wreck beforehand. I was convinced that my two pieces would stand out, and look immature. I'm not an artist by trade, and I didn't have a statement, or a studio in a renovated mill building- I just like making stuff.
I posted the minimum bids at $5 and $10 because I thought someone might have pity on these little splatters of paint and buy them out of generosity to the organization. . .so I was pretty surprised when they sold for $25 and $39. I create things because I enjoy it, and to me they are beautiful, but this was reassuring because it meant that others were also seeing the beauty in my creations.
So last month, when I was at my favorite taco joint, I inquired about how to become one of the featured artists. The restaurant invites creative locals to display works for a month's time. If a patron offers to buy any of the art, the restaurant will complete the sale. I didn't post any prices because I am not intending to sell anything. I just liked the idea of displaying my work and maybe making connections with other people with similar taste. At first I was excited, but as the date got closer, I inevitably got nervous again. Last time my works were only on display for a few hours, and this time it's a whole month. That's alot of time for people to be looking at them, and judging them.
I remembered when I was in college and I danced a duet for the first time. I took dance lessons for years, but I performed in groups, in numbers that were created by someone else. The duet was the first time I'd really tried choreographing anything myself, and it was the smallest group I'd ever performed in. It was Irish dancing, which wasn't really popular in my college town too, so it was the only number like it in the recital. At the rehearsal, we got up on stage, and did our stuff. When we were done, we were greeted with silence. It was foreboding, and we were convinced that we'd made a mistake, but it was too late to drop out, and I figured I'd just suffer through. When we performed that night though, the experience was a complete 180. Not only were there whoops and hollers for us, but the entire audience started clapping along to the music. I think that's when I realized that putting yourself out there, showing your creativity even if it's not the same as others', can feel really good.
I reminded myself of that night, and that feeling yesterday when I hung a few of my pieces up at the restaurant. It's not a college degree that makes someone an artist, or a studio with exposed brick walls, and it's certainly not sales figures. It's the willingness to open yourself up and share your ideas and your interpretations with people, not knowing how they might judge them.
I feel like the Grinch when he realizes that Christmas isn't about ribbons, or tags or packages, boxes and bags. Art isn't about what gets sold in the store; it means a little bit more.