It’s Day 4 of the Artist Takeover and today Artsy Forager is being taken over by two of my favorite artists from my hometown. First up is Jacksonville artist and friend, Christina Foard. Christina and I first met back in Jacksonville and she has become a dear friend and wonderfully supportive and encouraging ear. And hopefully, she’s always able to count on me for the same. True to her nature, her questions were thoughtful and insightful.
Christina Foard | My first question is possibly a bit broad, but something makes me think it’s a cornerstone for you, and may have application for all of us in any field. What are your beliefs about generosity – you know, giving without a foreseeable or tangible return on investment? What role does it play in your strategic plan for your future as an arts advocate/blogger?
Artsy Forager | I purposefully don’t talk much about my spiritual beliefs on the blog. I would never want anyone to be put off by spiritual talk. But your question brings it forward, so I’ll lay it out there. I am a Christian. I believe in God & the salvation of Christ. A cornerstone of my faith is a belief in service to others. My husband and I both try to practice giving freely of ourselves and our resources. We believe in the joy of giving.
Through Artsy Forager, I’m able to give of my time and resources to help people whose talent I believe in. Right now, I receive no financial benefit from Artsy Forager. What it is giving back to me is a sense of purpose and a knowledge that I am doing my part to help someone else. My strategic plan for the future is pretty fluid at the moment– I have ideas and short-term goals for broadening my audience and scope of services through the blog, but I also want to be open to whatever comes my way. I want to be able to help artists in a tangible way– I’ve found that is where I receive the greatest satisfaction! In the short term, that may be achieved through the blog and through doing the type of art consulting/project management I’m already familiar with. I’m not sure what will happen long term, but I would love to be able to incorporate charitable giving into my long term business plan, once I figure out what that is. 😉
CF | Are there characteristics that you think many/most artists share? Are there commonalities in their approach, energy, psychological make-up that you’ve experienced?
AF | I’ve been so fortunate to be able to meet and befriend some spectacularly talented artists and incredible people. Every artist is different, but I’ve found that many of the artists with whom I’ve developed relationships do share some characteristics–
Many of the most talented artists I’ve come across are incredibly humble, they are often open to all types of inspiration and stimulation, whether it be through other visual artwork, music, literature or other creative talk. They see the world through a broader lens, often much more open than others may be to differing points of view. I love the way so many artists support and encourage each other. The arts are a business but one that I personally think is enhanced by cooperation, not competition.
CF | You’ve been roaming nomadically for a while, clearly devoted and adoring your husband all the while, what do you think are the most exciting art markets amongst the cities you’ve gotten to know? What makes them vibrant in your opinion?
AF | Oh what a fun question!! My husband George & I feel so fortunate to be living this unique nomadic lifestyle. It has opened our eyes to so many places we may not have discovered otherwise. Here are a few of my favorite artsy spots I’ve found so far–
Seattle, WA— I may be a bit biased toward Seattle, as it was where George & I truly fell in love, so I see the city through love-colored glasses! That being said, the artistic energy in Seattle is phenomenal and the quality of the work being done there is, in my opinion, among the best in the world. For a large city, the sense of community and camaraderie among the artists in Seattle is amazing. Every time George is up for a new assignment, I hope and cross my fingers for Seattle. I would love to be there for a while to really immerse myself in the art community and just soak it all in.
Portland, OR— Another obvious one. 😉 I’m not as familiar with Portland as I am with Seattle, having only visited on a few day trips last summer but the art scene there is comparable. The arts in Portland seem a bit more laid back than Seattle.. almost like Portland is Seattle’s younger sibling.. I think it is still coming into its own. It’s truly becoming a creative destination for all kinds of art, which I find really exciting. It’s another city I would love to live in for a while and get to know better.
Astoria, OR— When we moved to our first Northwest assignment in Aberdeen, WA last summer, I was desperate for some cultural stimulation ( not currently to be had in Aberdeen, but we have hope for that little town ). We took a day trip to Astoria one Saturday and I was pleasantly surprised by the quality of the galleries there. Many small Northwest towns have thriving art scenes, but the focus is usually on Western/Native American art– which is great, but not my cup of tea. Astoria has a fantastic photography gallery, Lightbox Gallery , a large multi-discipline contemporary gallery, RiverSea Contemporary as well as a fun, more cutting edge space, Lunar Boy Gallery and others. An artwalk, shops, bookstores, etc., make Astoria a great little artsy town. If only it didn’t get almost 200 days of rain a year..
Jacksonville, FL— Of course, I had to include my hometown! The resilience of the artists and art community in Jacksonville continues to amaze me. The economic downturn hit the art market hard in Jacksonville, resulting in a lot of gallery closings, but it is so encouraging to watch artists and arts supporters finding new ways to rebuild. I’m afraid they are often running up against bureaucratic opposition and conservative political silliness but yet they keep fighting. And I’m cheering them on from afar. I’m looking forward to being back for a visit later in the year and seeing first hand exciting new ventures like Florida Mining and CoRK Studios.
Ashland, OR— This small town in Southern Oregon has a really booming and exciting art scene. Being a tourist destination known for its outdoor Shakespeare Festival, Ashland was a favorite spot while we were living in Southern Oregon. We have a good friend moving to the area and are looking forward to visiting again. I’ve discovered some really fabulous artists through Ashland galleries. It’s a liberal town in the midst of a very conservative area, which makes it kind of a mecca for culture in the southern part of the state.
Port Townsend, WA— Another small town that completely charmed me. It’s proximity to Seattle ( a ferry-ride away ) and touristy appeal gives this little town great potential for its art market. I don’t think it is quite where it could be yet, but I see it moving forward toward becoming an arts destination. Port Townsend is one of those towns where I immediately wanted to open a gallery. 😉
There are a few places we haven’t made it to yet, but I am anxious to see what their art communities have to offer– San Francisco, Los Angeles ( I’m seeing some really incredible art coming out of LA ), Santa Fe, New Orleans, Chicago, just to name a few. And perhaps it’s my proximity to Canada these days, but we have some really talented neighbors to the north.. it almost tempts me to talk George into changing our citizenship!
CF | How can artists help your business grow?
AF | Right now, the biggest way artists can help is to share the Artsy Forager page with friends, help me get the word out with social media, etc. When you share a quote, status, post, etc., you’re helping AF reach a wider audience. There are web tools that estimate your potential social media reach and it really is incredible to think about. It reminds me of that old shampoo commercial, “then she tells 2 friends and they tell 2 friends and so on..“.. wow, I just really dated myself! In sharing, you’re not just helping AF but every artist that is featured.
Keep me updated with new work, shows, etc. It would be very time consuming for me to periodically check for new work on each artist’s site. I love it when an artist emails me to let me know of an upcoming show or new work just posted to their site. It helps keep you & your work on my mind, which in turn, usually prompts me to post about it on the blog or social media. Win-win for both of us!
I am always open to new ideas and dialogues, too. This interview process idea came from artist Christina Baker and I was thrilled with all the artists’ enthusiasm! I would really love to have artists even more involved with the website.
All images are via the artist’s website.