Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Life gets in the way

The new exhibition season is here, and with it comes a flurry of invitations from friends to attend their fall openings. And I've already missed my first one!

I wrote a "sorry I couldn't make it" note to an artist who had invited me to her opening last Saturday afternoon (between you and me, my car was in the shop until early afternoon, and then Hurricane Hannah was threatening), and she wrote back a kind reply, saying not to give it a second thought. "Life is busy and we just can't do everything," she added.

She's right, of course. I know there's no obligation to attend an opening just because you're invited to it. And when I first became an artist and fellow artists began sending me invitations to their exhibits, I felt no obligation and would just pin their postcard to the wall to admire, and forget about the opening.

Then I started showing my work, and in the process of addressing and stamping invitations to my shows (this was 1997, before email invites became the norm), I would often include folks on my mailing list who were old friends or who lived far away, not expecting them to attend, but just sending the invitation as a way of saying hello and letting them know what I was up to.

But lo and behold, so many of the people I would invite actually made the effort to attend my openings, and it felt wonderful to see them. I realized that attending an opening is a way of saying, "You GO!" to the featured artist, making them feel supported and appreciated. So I always make an effort to voice my support by attending others' openings, as so many people have done for me.

But my artist friend is right; sometimes life gets in the way, and you simply can't make it to every show you're invited to.

But this makes me feel guilty! I want the artist to know I'm thinking of them and congratulating them on the achievement of their exhibition, in mind and spirit if not in body! I guess I could send flowers, but I know a lot of artists, and the florist bills would add up fast. An apologetic email will have to do, or maybe just hoping that they won't notice one less body in the crowd.

I just know how great it feels to look around at your opening and see the smiling faces of all those loyal fans! So I enjoy being a loyal fan myself.

The photo above was taken of me by the husband of artist Deborah Bohnert (I apologize that I don't know his first name!) at an opening of a show Deborah and I were in at the Brush Art Gallery in Lowell, MA.


Kate Beck said...

I appreciate your thoughts, Catherine. I feel as you do in that it is a show of support to go to the openings of our friends. I had to miss one that was important to me this week, too. But the guilt factor shouldn't enter into it -- honestly, we have enough of that all around. Let's keep art -- our process, our practice and our lives -- specifically personal, unencumbered by social pressures and nuance. It is, afterall, more than just a kind gesture. Attending openings and viewing exhibits is keeping current with contemporaries in our field, therefore critical to our professional lives. We are all coping with that balance.

Catherine Carter said...

Kate, you're absolutely right! I just love making the artists I know who invite me feel special and appreciated, 'cause I love that feeling myself. Thank you as always for writing.