By Kit-Bacon Gressitt
Have you ever looked at a piece of art and wondered how it was created? Answers to this and other fine-arts questions will abound at the second annual Open Studios San Diego.
Produced by The Studio Door, a North Park arts incubator and gallery, Open Studios is a free, self-guided tour of artist studios located throughout San Diego County, from Downtown to Fallbrook. The two-day event, Oct. 15-16, will feature about 25 artists, at least 10 of who are from the Uptown and Mid-City communities.
Baring one’s creative soul to the public might seem risky business for an artist, but artist Patric Stillman, owner of The Studio Door, said in a recent Uptown News interview that there is a special bond that happens between the artist and the visiting arts patron.
“I think it’s really exciting, as a patron of the arts, to see not only the space an artist works in, but to be shown how the art is created,” Stillman said. “It’s not something you see when you go to a gallery — there you just see the final work.”
However, North Park-based street artist turned abstract painter Chris Smith acknowledged one challenge of opening his studio door.
“It’s a little nerve-wracking sometimes,” he said, “because you have so much emotion in your art, and you’re putting it out there for judgment and criticism.”
How does Smith overcome the fear of judgment in the same space where he creates?
“What I do is I lie to myself. I tell myself that I’m a great artist, no matter what, until I believe it. And when someone’s critiquing my art, if it’s not motivating me or inspiring me, I just don’t listen.”
Despite his trepidation, this is Smith’s second year of participation in Open Studios and it’s been a good experience for him.
“Last year went really well. We had a lot of people come through. I made a lot a good connections, talked with a lot people. People seem to really enjoy my work. People are usually kind and that’s exciting. It gets you kind of amped up. So now I only show in the studio, with the exception of two local galleries. It’s a good place for it because that’s where it’s created — it’s a natural habitat.”
North Park fused-glass artist Crisinda also enjoys the personal encounters that occur in her studio.
“I love interacting with people, so it’s a lovely part of what I do,” she said. “When people are interested enough to come into my studio, I want to make sure they know what I do, that they’re educated in my particular medium. You get people that have more questions, are more interested in the process, than you do in a gallery. It’s absolutely inspirational. First of all, people don’t know a lot about fused glass, so I spend a lot of time explaining what it is. That renews my interest and my enthusiasm. I’m explaining to this person who’s really curious, really interested, and every time I do, for me it’s like ‘Wow, this is really cool — and I’m so lucky!’ I love the medium. I think about glass all the time. I even dream about it.”
Crisinda enjoys visitors in her studio so much that she has been known to involve them in her creative process: “Sometimes I’ll have sculptures in progress and sometimes they comment and I can incorporate that.”
She also envisions an experience that is rewarding for both artist and visitor. “I hope that they see the joy and beauty in the glass,” she said, “that they’ll go away thinking, ‘That was a lovely experience’ — and possibly come back and make a purchase.”
The Open Studios tour is accompanied by two related events at The Studio Door that will transform October into an artful month: an exhibit of the participating artists’ works, Oct. 1-22, and an opening reception on Oct. 8.
—Kit-Bacon Gressitt writes commentary and essays on her blog, Excuse Me, I’m Writing, and has been published by Ms. Magazine blog and Trivia: Voice of Feminism, among others. She formerly wrote for the North County Times. She also hosts Fallbrook’s monthly Writers Read authors series and open mic, and can be reached at email@example.com.