(One of the posts I wrote on my Swell 24.7 blog in my previous life as a gift store owner in the busy tourist town of Provincetown on Cape Cod; posts that are grouped here under the category What Else Is Swell?, and are generally about life in Provincetown, life as a retailer, our fabulous dog Jack who sat outside the store for well over a decade, and other random things that grabbed me at the time.)
Those of you who know me as more than That Woman With The British Accent Who Owns That Cool Store In Provincetown know that really I'm a wannabe artist. I'm not very good at making the time to do my art; owning your own business is all consuming and, contrary to popular opinion, a good chunk of the winter is taken up with getting the store ready for the summer. Plus, I'm not great at just doing art for the sake of it (I wish I was). Instead I'm much better at doing things if there is a specific project, with a theme or boundaries to be fit into, and a deadline, a date it has to be done by. (I might be up half the night finishing it but I never miss a deadline.) Which is why I love the Provincetown Art Association (as I wrote about here) with all their opportunities for members to submit work for exhibit. I always know when the next drop off date is, what the next theme is, and ideas roll around in my head until, well, either I hit on the right one or it's a couple of days before it's due and I'm all "just get in your damn studio and make something, for goodness sake". And I always do.
The other organization that I love is the Brooklyn based Art House Co-op. They do all kinds of art based projects that anyone, literally anyone from anywhere in the world, can be part of. You just sign up and submit your work; by the deadline of course. (Get on their email list - it's the best way to hear about all their activities, some of which are very spur of the moment/get it done now/deadline is in a week, which, being someone that gets spurred on by a date on the calendar, I particularly like.)
The most well known of their activities is the annual Sketchbook Project. You pay a few bucks, choose one of the themes, they send you a sketchbook, you fill it up, send it back and it goes in their permanent library, and on tour around the country in a big van, and people look at it, and you get a little email from the Art House Co-op saying that someone looked at it, and you feel all warm and fuzzy and proud of being part of such a big art collective. And when I say big, I mean BIG. In 2012 around 22,000 sketchbooks were part of the roving exhibit, including mine (and Nick's actually). I also did one in 2011 (which we were fortunate enough to see in Brooklyn at the Art House Co-op's permanent library - what a great variety of awesome work).
And this year they are doing an extra mini tour, called A Landmark And A Mission. It's a mobile library of just 1,000 of the sketchbooks chosen by Christopher Jobson who writes the This Is Colossal blog; which just so happens to be my absolute most favorite art blog on the whole entire internet, packed full of incredible artists that you probably would otherwise never have heard of, new posts at least daily, new people to discover, new talents to see, new things to make you go wow. Seriously, if you like art just a teeny tiny bit check it out, you won't be disappointed. So imagine the warm and fuzzy and bursting with pride feeling I got when I opened a little email from the Art House Co-op and found that my sketchbook had been chosen to be included. Out of 22,000. By Christopher Jobson. Of This Is Colossal. Okay, I don't know if he personally sat down and looked at all 22,000 and mine (plus 999 others) stood out to him, but he curated the exhibit and mine is in it and damn proud I am.
So, if you live within driving distance of Pittsburgh, PA (Friday), Ann Arbor, MI (Saturday) or Cleveland, OH (Sunday) and have an hour or so to kill this weekend (November 16th - 18th) go see the mobile library, take a look at the sketchbooks, support a fantastic organization, get inspired, maybe make some art of your own. Take your friends. It's totally free and I'm sure you'll have a good time. Here is the purpose built mobile library.
How adorable is that? It's worth going just to see the truck, let alone all the fab art inside.
And if you can't go in person here's a video of mine on the Art House Co-op website. (If you pay a little extra when you sign up they digitize your book and put it on line; how great are they?) My theme was Transatlantic which is totally appropriate given that I'm from the UK but live in the USA, and I sorted through the hundreds of stamps I've collected over the years (you know, just in case I need them for an art project one day, which I did so finally there is a justification for saving everything) and used the UK and USA ones to make 'countries' based on themes like buildings, war, storybooks, famous people and stuff like that. Here's one of the pages with Santa 'countries'.
Unfortunately I can't go to see the mobile library, what with the store needing to be open and inconveniently located many miles from the library stops. But I am already thinking about next year. My blank 2013 book is sitting in my studio waiting for me to have time and inspiration, or for the middle of January deadline to start looming, which ever comes first.
Details on the mobile library locations and times are here. Go see it. And let me know if you do. And take a little look at mine (my name is Sian Robertson); thanks!