At this point in my career as an artist, I have gotten pretty comfortable with participating in art experiences. My 10×10 white tent has been set up in parks all over the Twin Cities for many different art fairs, I have submitted individual pieces to juried art shows all over the place, and Northrup King in NE Minneapolis has hosted many events that I have been a part of. I’m always on the lookout for calls to entry and notification of upcoming art events to submit to. A certain amount of getting your art out there in physical venues is a numbers game, so I have to apply for more than I feel ready for. I know I won’t get accepted to everything – over time the sting of rejection gets dimmer because of the understanding that a certain amount of being turned down is inevitable.
But what I have largely avoided was hosting my own event that depended on the attendance of people I knew. It is a tremendously vulnerable thing to do – not only is it scary to make art and put it out there for anyone to have an opinion on, but asking friends and family to take time out of their busy lives to support my art endeavors is a whole new level of exposure. If an art fair has poor attendance, I don’t take it personally and just count it as bad luck. But the fear of having no one come to this event, after all of the effort put in by me and my parents to prepare for it and invite people, was almost paralyzing.
Having an art evening at my parents’ house was something that we had discussed for a while. I am lucky to have a network of people in Oregon that have seen me grow up creating things and been watching from afar as I have continued to make things in Minnesota. We wanted to give our family and friends an opportunity to see some of my large originals in person, and it had been a long time since we had an excuse to throw a party. I was going to be on the West Coast for both weekends of the Camano Island Studio Tour in Washington, so we figured that having some sort of gathering in Portland during the week in between would be doable.
My parents had done a significant renovation on their home a couple of years ago. The house I grew up in is beautiful – it has all the benefits of a shiny new home while also having decades of memories. They have prints of my artwork, as well as various projects and pieces I have made throughout the years, hung in their home on a regular basis. For this event, we found places for the work I brought with me from Minnesota and also set up an area for my prints, cards, and magnets. We made placards for each piece, and it felt like a museum! My dad’s main concern was the food (this is not a surprise to anyone who knows him). We tried so hard to keep it to a simple menu with wine and a few cheeses. I think we kept the menu relatively under control considering how many shopping trips we made, but it ended up being a sprawling assortment of cheeses, crackers, dips, vegetables, desserts, and beverages. There were multiple Costco trips to get wine. My parents are not drinkers, so I think I will be enjoying the leftover wine every trip home for the foreseeable future. Our first guest came 15 minutes before we officially started, so unfortunately I have no record of this buffet!
From the first visitor until the families of my parents’ longtime friends left well after our official end time, it was a flurry of activity. There were no lulls. Every time someone walked in it was a delight. People I hadn’t seen in years came! Neighbors who have lived on the same street as my parents since the house was built, people who knew me as a child from church and watched me grow up, my friends who have been with me through thick and thin since high school, and my parents’ friends who have appreciated my art that my parents are always happy to talk about…it was one of those events like a wedding where all these people from different parts of your life come together to celebrate and reminisce. I was so honored to be able to connect with these people and share with them the art that I have created.
My only regret is that we didn’t prioritize taking pictures of everyone throughout the evening! It went by so fast and was a blur, but the memories of this precious day will stick with me and my parents for a long time. Thank you to everyone who was able to come and enjoy the good company, delicious food and beverage, and support me in this journey!