Barbara Evan, Jax Bldg
It's a busy weekend in our neighborhood. Twice a year, in October and April, art studios in St. Paul's Lowertown neighborhood open their doors to art fanciers and curious urbanites. This corner of St. Paul becomes one big art gallery. It's an interesting look into the world of the artist. It's an opportunity to see an artist's work in the studio where the work is created. Some studio spaces are living spaces as well.
It's also a cheap date night. Joel took me on my "first" art crawl in the Spring of 2006. At first, it was very uncomfortable for me traipsing into people's work spaces and worse, their living rooms. I felt like an intruder and wanted to make my way in and out without conversation. Well, that's not really possible alongside Joel. Joel had already lived in this neighborhood for several years and actually knew several artists that had their studios open. By the end of that first evening, I became more comfortable and was able to speak with various artists about their work.
It is, in part, the artist community in Lowertown that made me want to live here. If you asked me what was the first thing I ever wanted to be, I would answer "painter". That desire was born when I was young girl--probably around 8 years old. I remember looking at a poster that my oldest brother brought home from college of a Renoir painting and thinking that I wanted to be able to do that. I already loved spending hours "coloring", drawing, and painting with those cheap watercolor sets.
I was raised in small towns and there were no art museums. Fortunately, art classes were offered even in the early elementary grades. In high school, I forfeited "study hall" in order to take an extra hour of art classes. Initially, when I got to college I majored in journalism (writing was another passion and journalism seemed a more reasonable way to make a living), but before long my desire to create art took over. When I realized I could take art classes to satisfy elective requirements I was hooked. And soon my major changed.
I have never "made a living" as an artist (or as a journalist either, for that matter). In fact, there have been many years when I really wasn't making art at all. But I always found ways to "be creative"--whether that meant painting, making cards or some sort of crafts, or whatever I could do while raising two children on my own. And my kids will tell you, I dragged them to every art museum I could (it payed off, both my kids will go to the Art Institute or other museums with or without me).
So, now that my kids are "grown", it's time to return to some real art-making. Once Joel and I decided to settle in Lowertown, we started looking for a small art studio...a place where he can write and I can paint. Last January we found a wonderful space in the Jax building...which just happened to be my favorite building to visit during the art crawl. The building houses a rich community of artists.
I've started to do a little bit of painting and my goal this winter is to finish some new paintings for the first time in years. Last spring Joel and I opened our studio--Joel exhibited some work of local comic artists and I had some older paintings up. It was an interesting experience. This fall we decided to pass on opening. I didn't feel ready. I want to do it right...when I have new work to exhibit. So this fall, we're experiencing the art crawl again as observers...but next spring (mark your calendar: April 25,26,&27) I plan to be ready. And then the artwork you'll see posted on this blog will me my own.
(For art crawl information, click here.)