ACC Chicago vs. Benicia Open Studios

Hi, folks, Having just been off-line (broken computer) for a week and
off-list (too busy getting ready for Open Studios) for longer, I have
been frantically trying to catch up on reading all your wonderful
posts. I still haven’t, but the number of responses on this thread
amazed me.

Before Noel sent the original post, she had emailed me off-list
because I signed myself “Lisa from Benicia, where everyone is an
artist” (this was a joke about the earlier "who is an artist"
thread). I now realize that enough other people are probably lurking,
trying to discover the answer to the same question, that maybe I
should post a (slightly modified) version of the response I sent her.

Before I do, I will contrast my experience at Open Studios with hers
at ACC Chicago: I paid $70 to Arts Benicia (publicity, signs, keyed
maps, etc.) and got to be a “guest artist” in the local “live/work
area” for free–all amenities provided, including a faux-finished
room with a kidney-shaped, glass-topped display table and a desk
chair. Lots of lovely, appreciative people–not a moment to do any
work. My largest sale was $255 (with earrings to follow), but my
total take was only around $600 (although I generated a lot of
interest in custom work and had a lot of fun). If I had been a
"real" jeweler, I might have lost my shirt, but I do wirework and
probably covered the ridiculous amount I spent on supplies, most of
which I never used. My high-end necklace included ruby beads, plus
someone else’s gorgeous lampwork, and was purchased by a musician
(all my high-end necklaces–$175-255–have been purchased by local
artists of one kind or another). On the other hand, the one "real"
jeweler (BFA in metalsmithing, but also a PMC person) said she did
pretty well.

So…I’ll send the “Where is artist heaven?” post separately.

Lisa in Benicia
where the sun keeps peeking through the famous Bay area fog

Lisa I have been reading your posts, and each time I do, a smile
spreads across my face. $600 is very admirable! At my first Open
Studios, I think I sold two pairs of earrings at $35 a piece, and
was elated.

In my office, here at home, there is a framed piece of paper that
hangs on the wall. I feel no more an artist after receiving that
piece of paper that I did before. Just because I have a BFA now,
doesn’t make me a better artist. I can talk the talk, but my art?

If you have a chance to attend the upcoming SNAG conference in SF,
you should. It is a wonderful group of like minded metal artists
who get together once a year, listen to some great lectures and
slide presentations, eat, drink, talk shop, buy goodies from the
vendor room. If you can’t attend the whole conference, there is a
Professional Practices Workshop which is held on the 21st, in the
hotel from 2-6pm. It is a FREE event. A panel of excellent people
are involved, Andy Cooperman, Alan Revere, Don Friedlich and Boris
Bally. They will be giving a one hour slide presentation on their
involvement in business and as studio metalsmiths.

I will be there at this presentation and would love to meet you.

Good luck with your work.

Karen Christians
10 Walnut St., Woburn MA 01801
Ph. 781 937 3532, Fx. 781 937 3955
Jewelry/Metalarts School & Cooperative Studio
Board Member for the Society of North American Goldsmiths