(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.)
Today is a drop off day for the Members Juried exhibit at the Provincetown Art Association and Museum.
I love that place.
If you are a wannabe artist in Provincetown (which I am), or any where on Cape Cod really, it is a place you need to be a part of.
There are two things I really like about what is known locally, and affectionately, as PAAM (as well as the obvious facts that they have an ever changing schedule of widely varying exhibits, and that they are housed in an awesome building that seamlessly combines the ultra modern with olde worlde Provincetown).
The first is that they totally ignore the concept of ‘Off Season’. While the rest of us, especially business owners, are closed/hibernating/prepping for the next summer onslaught, the staff at PAAM just march on like nothing has changed. In February and March alone they have five exhibitions, at least ten classes (most over several days and some for free), a film series, twice weekly life drawing sessions, an artreach program to local youth, a couple of gallery talks and some lectures. And they are open four days a week, when many of the rest of us are open, well, zero. About a year ago I went to a Friday night opening of two or three new exhibits there, and the place was packed. You could barely move. I had no idea there were that many people even in Provincetown in March, let alone willing to venture down to the far east end on a cold and wintry evening. I swear I have never seen so many people all in one place between the months of December and April.
The second thing I love about PAAM is how they support current artists. Yes it’s easy to give exhibitions to established artists, those that are already making a living from their creative pursuits, but they also provide so many resources and opportunities for up and coming artists, or those who do it as a hobby, or those who have aspirations beyond their current skill level. They offer a multitude of classes year round covering all kinds of visual arts from the very basic to the very advanced. (I took a three day collage class with Keith Maddy last September and it was such a great way to get me to try new things and work in different ways.) And best of all there are maybe six or seven opportunities a year for members to submit work to exhibits. Half of these are juried so you don’t necessarily get in, but half are open and then anyone can have a piece hanging on the walls of a nationally renowned art institution. How cool is that?
For me, personally, this has been the best part of being a member. When I first joined, about two years ago, it was specifically to encourage (even force) myself to get my art out there. Until then I was very shy about it, rarely showing it even to my best friends. The first exhibit I submitted to I honestly thought I was going to throw up while I was dropping the piece off, I was so traumatized by the thought of any one actually seeing something I had done. I am over that now, but mainly because I have gotten so much positive feedback from people who saw something I did at a PAAM exhibition that it has really inspired and encouraged me to keep at it. I even have it hanging in the store now! Being part of PAAM has truly enabled me to see a future in this pursuit; maybe not earning a living at it but at least selling enough to buy more art supplies.
Which reminds me of another great thing at PAAM – they’ll actually sell the pieces for you too, or at least encourage you to put prices on them. The first piece I ever sold was in the PAAM 12×12 exhibit in the summer of 2009.
When I joined I challenged myself to submit something to every exhibit that members are invited to be part of, and I have stuck to that. I had pieces accepted into three juried exhibits last year which was incredibly validating and encouraging.
So I’ll head up there this afternoon with my latest contribution and keep my fingers crossed that it gets in. And if it doesn’t, no worries; March 1st is a drop off date for the next Members Open exhibit. March 1st? OMG, that’s next week. I’d better get my scissors and glue out pronto.