Would we, as artists in Cottonwood/Clarkdale benefit from a central space in which to form our own art center?
What does an artist need? I have asked myself this over and over. Creativity streaks through me! I go for a few days without squeezing clay between my fingers, and I can feel my anxiety begin to rise. My temper feels shorter. I think the first need for an artist is the materials needed to create!
But what good are those materials if there is no space in which to create? When I first began to make assemblages, before I found any studio space, I tried working in my garage. The light was wrong. It was cold. There was not adequate space to lay out the materials I needed. And then winter gave way to spring. The Arizona sun beat down on my deck by 9 a.m. Clearly, almost as important as the materials, is the space in which to work. And the dirt I created along with the art? Impossible to work out of my house! Certainly another need for an artist is a studio space.
I found a studio. And I became relatively productive. Now I have a glut of beautiful art, and not enough venues where it might sell.Maybe there will never be enough venues. My dear friend, Susan Zalkind warned me of “artist constipation.” I think of that frequently! My cats have helped by becoming quantity controllers, but I would enjoy it more if my pieces might get re-homed. And for that, an artist needs an area in which to display completed creations.
Finally, interaction with other artists is important. We need a space in which to offer classes, times to look at each others’ art, and discuss this, and times to talk about technique. And about when one’s own technique is not enough.
Another problem facing artists, including those in the Cottonwood/Clarkdale area, is affordability. I have found that as an artist I need significant funds to maintain my passion. I cannot rely on sales to get this. In the Verde Valley more artists are strapped for funds than in places like Sedona. Some of us must work with little more than a Social Security check. Any center we set up must be sensitive to this issue.
There is a space in the building where my gallery is located. I would love to see that become a community space. It is large enough to accommodate a number of artists. The location, on 6th street, a half block off 89A is central to our area. I would love to invite you to join me there!
And this space might be just the first location for us in the area. Hidden away are other empty spaces which might be turned into studio/gallery space.
Staff at the Cottonwood Chamber of Commerce are enthused by this plan. They offered a space for us to meet. They have said they will help us further. We will meet there, on Cove Parkway, February 15 at 2 p.m. Come to this meeting to be a part of the beginnings of an exciting Clarkdale/Cottonwood artist community!
I have just returned home after doing this afternoon’s errands. Today was the day to set up all the missing links for my move down the hill from Jerome High School to 432 S 6th Street. Deposit paid, insurance proven, lease signed. The new space is mine. I even bought an “ugly” work sink from Habitat for Humanity for twenty bucks. In the next few days I will pick the magic day for our move, sign up the vets to help and secure a rental truck.
As I drove around town I was struck by the circles I run in. On one end of 6th Street is the Cottonwood Library. Three years ago I was busily putting the finishing touches on my book, It Happened in the Cottonwood Library Parking Lot. I posed for a picture in late July there with my dear friend Patty Gilson. She took one look at the concept photo I had, clicked two pictures and the cover was set. One of my stories in the book, “Ditzy,” about a man who finds a dog advertised on the bulletin board at the library, features a jog down 6th.
Perhaps a new book is in order, Driving on 6th. In addition to the library, the recreation center, and the county mental health offices, all of which were mentioned in my first book, the police station is on 6th. That is where I had to deliver Baruch when he was quarantined for ten days after nibbling on a man. The mortuary where I picked up an American flag for Patty’s husband’s funeral is on the street. I go to the senior center on 6th once a year to have my taxes done. Top Hat Liquor Store is on the corner of 89A and 6th. Across 89A is Juanita’s a fabulous Mexican dive where I eat frequently.
And now I will be hanging out in Suite C of Appliance Junkies, George’s collection spot for washers, dryers, fridges, microwaves, and stoves. Don, a dumpster diver extradordinaire, will be treasure hunting regularly in the back lot! He got in trouble digging through the dumpster at the high school in Jerome. This one will be more friendly!
I enjoyed my year and a half up in Jerome. I went up there looking for adventure, looking for an answer to my question, Am I really an artist? I hung out with artists up there, learned the lingo, tried out the lifestyle. I met Sue, my website designer there. Don blew into my life while I was up there practicing art.
In Jerome I tried out ways to share my art. I quickly got my pieces into three galleries, where nothing really sold well. I drove from Jerome to the Village of Oak Creek three times a month to try to learn to work in an art gallery. For me, that experience was frustrating because most of the merchandise featured, and selling well there were touristy crafts. My assemblages did not speak to the tourists who wandered in.
For the past few months I have been affirming I was ready, with my improved assemblages, to find a space where my art could be featured as art. I have wanted a space where I could set up individual pedestals for some of my pieces so they could sing solo. Many on them out-shout each other when crammed onto shelves as where they need to be placed in more touristy venues.
My new location is in the hub of Cottonwood activity. So many of my friends have told me, “I would love to come see what you do, but….” They do not make the five mile curvy drive up the mountain into Jerome. My studio in Jerome is on the second floor of the high school. For those of us educated in the 50’s, 60’s and 70’s, we remember the wide stairs we had to climb between English and biology classes. Those stairs are even more intimidating fifty years later. I understand the hesitation many of my friends feel as they contemplate visiting me. Now they will not have no excuse. My studio is right between lunch at Juanita’s and the post office. Ace Hardward, where I visit frequently, and where I have made so many friends is less than a quarter of a mile away. Everyone is nearby!
In the next six weeks I will chronicle the steps I move through as I transition from Jerome into Cottonwood. My first challenge will be organizing the mess I have made with my supplies, boxing them up and bringing them down the hill. Don is already designing a sign on a very special piece of Cottonwood bark. Our large supply of beaver sticks need to get gathered up and brought down. Don has a number of ideas for decorating the front space as a showroom. My magic wand tree, its branches a survivor of a lightning strike which Don watched, will be taking up residence in a corner of the new space. This blog will feature a few stories as the time unfolds.
And, mark your calendars for mid to late September. There will be a grand opening, a big party. I hope you can come!
"With all the beauty surrounding me here above the Verde Valley, how could I not create more beauty?"