I began to prepare for Open Studios about a month before the event. Lainie had come by. She looked at my studio and commented, “This floor needs to be painted.”
I looked down. The floor, stained, cracked concrete did look worn, non-artistic. I did not need to worry about what I dropped on it. I realized, though, this was the gallery-part of my space. I did not drop paint and stuff out here, and it might attract guests.
I took a few small red rocks out of my case over to Ace. “Would you match this in a floor paint?” We moved all the furniture out of the way and rolled paint across the floor. It improved the look of the room. But now the walls needed attention. We trekked back to Ace and my friend Jodie helped me pick a lighter version of the floor color. The look of the walls improved the overall effect of the room, but something more was needed.
Back to Ace. Jodie showed me how to pick complementary colors to the ones in the studio. We selected an aqua, a brown, a grey. I added silver and copper. These colors were swirled around the room. When the sun shone in the room the shadows from my mobiles blended in. I felt the room looked enchanted.
Walls and floors improved, I turned back to the cases in the room. I hit the garage sales and found a huge, heavy oak case. It was a major improvement over the wobbly white case it replaced. I bench with rusting “Chevy” on the back filled in an empty space beneath the pass-through, and provided seating.
The outside needed attention. Being in an industrial zone, my space needed definition. People needed clues in order to find me. I made mobiles to hang from the eaves and found an A-frame open sign. I got it to prominently display my address. I spruced up the numbers on my door, made them easier to read from a distance.
I needed to do my committee work for the event. One morning I got up to Jerome before the parking lots dried up. For two hours I climbed all over the hills and dropped pamphlets for merchants.
I remembered the local bank had told me they had a space where local merchants could advertise their businesses. I signed up for the week before Open Studios. The Monday before I went over, arranged eight pieces and some rough signage. I was pleased by the effect.
My cat Manzanita began to look sicker and sicker. I knew he was at risk for feline leukemia. I took him up to the Humane Society. They pointed out his labored breathing, his high temperature, his lack of eating. He was quite sick. They offered to take him in, doctor him. When Juniper showed her distress a bout being separated from her brother. They offered to take her i as well. Now I needed to drive up to Jerome daily to visit with them.
The day before the event I worked ten hours fo ready my studio. The morning of the event I arrived at my studio at five. Pieces needed to be repaired. Others needed to be repositioned.
Ten a.m. Open Studios were to start. I continued to rehang my weedholders. I strung a final vertical mobile, then mounted my ladder to hang it on the ceiling. My d=hairdresser came in! Her studio is three blocks away, but she had never had the time to stop by. She helped hang pictures of my sick cats.
A few more friends trickled in. Lots of compliments. Finally, six hours later. my phone rang. Was I Ann Metlay? Was mu studio open? Could I guide them to find me. Two women walked in. They explained they sought me out because they were looking for art that was different.
I explained how I obtained my wood in local deserts, how papier mache worked to bond my assemblages.
“This is so natural. So organic. Each piece is unique. Such imagination to do this!”
By the end of the day six people had come to visit. Four were friends my Saturday continued slow. Towards the end of the day the phone rang. I recognized the heavy German accent, Irmagarde, an elderly friend from my old neighborhood. She and Klaus decided they wanted to visit only one studio, and from the picture of my assemblage, selected mine.
Klaus and Irma remained in my studio for over an hour. They moved from piece to piece, found an eagle in one, a fish in another. Delighted, they discussed who they should send to my studio. These were the visitors I wanted to attract!
Sally was not feeling well, so I did not need to run up to Jerome to visit the cats. I headed over to the Cliff Rose Trail to pick up Mormon tea roots.
Sunday, Norma came by with Lynda. I invited her to stay. We talked as she wrapped string around keyrings for my mobiles. I wire-brushed wood. We talked.
By the end of Sunday twenty-five people came through my studio over three days. About half were friends. Was it worth the work? My place looks inviting. My pieces are attractive. Hopefully word will get out my art is worth notice. I met several other artists. Maybe they can mentor me as I continue on the journey of art. A few weeks from now it is Made in Clarkdale. Last year I was turned down for this event. Maybe this year my pieces will get notice, my reputation will grow.
"With all the beauty surrounding me here above the Verde Valley, how could I not create more beauty?"