After the Vernissage
Originally published on June 8, 2017 on the beta version of my website.
"A head full of fear has no space for dreams." - Anonymous
This is a big question I find myself pondering quite often: do we have the power to manifest our own destiny? The word destiny is a bit strong, but the general idea is intriguing. Can we cause our desires to become actualized with hard work and a belief in ourselves? Some may think these questions are naive, but I think they carry some merit. I believe you can manifest your own destiny, and it’s been my unofficial motto of the year. For the goals I have been working towards, particularly my artistic goals, I have had the bigger picture in mind. Smaller accomplishments are steps to bigger dreams.
Which leads me to my Vernissage (the word Germans use for an art opening) that happened last weekend. It was a fantastic success, and much bigger than I had imagined when I first set out on this particular goal. The scale of the success is in thanks my artist group here in Dusseldorf. I am pleasantly surprised that my freshly founded group already has a core of dedicated members, mostly creative expats like myself who want to be part of an artist community. For a group of relative strangers who have become new friends, we have worked surprisingly well together. I believe this is due to an open-minded approach to collaboration. When I mentioned my idea for a self-hosted art show, my group immediately jumped on board and generously offered their time and connections to make it happen. What started as a small idea has turned into something much bigger because of genuine collaboration.
Our Vernissage turned out to be a unique concept: a house party featuring an American painter (myself), a Croatian photographer, a performance by a Canadian singer/songwriter, a poetry reading by a Chilean poet, a Portuguese DJ, and gourmet catering by an American chef. We expected around 60 guests based on RSVP’s, but there was no way to count once the party started. So many people came that an excited buzz of energy seemed to fill the space like a hive of happy honeybees. I think for people who don’t work in a creative field, the arts can be somewhat magical, which brings about a sense of wonder and curiosity from the viewers. Underlying my own excitement was a calm feeling of surreality that followed me throughout the night, lurking just under the surface of my thoughts, as if my subconscious was asking “Did you really make this happen?”
As a side note, I will say a quick comment about preparing for the show. The immense preparation work I had to do for my Vernissage (framing, stretching canvas, promoting, writing artist statements, creating labels, hanging, etc) was riddled with many hurdles and unexpected problems. I knew it wouldn’t be easy, though I expect every artist has these hiccups when preparing for a show. I will choose to see them as valuable learning experiences, something which will inform my future efforts. That is a more eloquent way of saying: I learned what NOT to do. Mainly: don’t create artwork on paper assuming it is a standard size (it wasn’t), and in consequence to the first error, don’t order custom sized frames from a German website and hope your Google translate is perfect (it wasn’t). I won’t bore you with the details, but let’s say I have learned a lot!
So the night had finally come after five months of work, and I was able to sit back and appreciate the fact that I made it happen. I was a little beat up from all those hurdles, but I had crossed the finish line. I had manifested my goal into reality by taking action. I started the artist group (fortunately attracting quality members). I created these paintings and set the goal to exhibit them. I pitched the idea to my group, and got the ball rolling for this event. I should be clear: my artist group is awesome and there is absolutely no chance I could ever pull off this type of event on my own. They really pulled out all the stops to create a fabulous experience for our guests. But I will take this opportunity to feel proud of myself and my efforts.
This is something I don’t often do: take a moment to acknowledge my achievement and celebrate my success. Just the fact that I had my paintings on display for 60+ people to see was a success. I can fairly say that my group and I surpassed my original goal and expectations. I am not allowing myself this moment of self-congratulations as a platform for bragging, but rather because I want to use this experience as positive reinforcement. I want to use this momentum from my art show to push me forward, further towards my life goal of being a successful artist.
Speaking of momentum, I will describe some outcomes from the Vernissage. In addition to actually pulling this type of unique event off, also came away with some solid results. I sold a couple paintings, earned a painting commission for a series, and got recruited to be featured on an artist website. This Vernissage was a successful first project with my artist group. The first of many, if we keep up this excellent collaboration.
Now I have two new projects to look forward to. The first is a triptych for a friend who commissioned me to create a series of three paintings to match the interior design of her new apartment. I am really excited to get started on this because her and I have similar aesthetic tastes, so I don’t feel like I have many restrictions besides an awesome color palette. The second is a logo design for a social media brand launch. I’ll be writing more about these projects in the coming weeks. Stay tuned, and if you’ve read this far, thanks for reading!