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Thursday, May 19, 2005

Positive Critique 

I've been holding a few ideas for paintings and multiple originals (aka prints) in the back of my mind for years now, just hoping for a little time on my hands. Maybe it's only a phase I'm going through – afterall, I've been thinking and reading about aging a lot lately – but those unbirthed works have started calling to me.

When I begin making marks for myself again, it would be nice to get some feedback from others who choose visual communication when words aren't enough. Unfortunately, I've been out of touch with CU's blossoming art community for a long while now. Typically the only way I know what's going on is through my 40 North/88 West membership, so it's been well worth the annual fee I pay.

Last night I went to an open art crit, just to look and listen. The crit was part of the series "A Call to Arts: Open Critiques", co-sponsored by 40 North and Krannert Art Museum. The series is moderated by (and largely organized by) Jenny Southlynn of Pamphlet Press. (See her "Rules of Engagement" for the crits.)

Jenny and I first met in grad school when we were working on Art Education degrees. Our advisor often used our polar philosophies on art ed issues to stir up class debates. After grad school, she and I headed in very different directions, only occasionally running into each other at openings where we would catch up on the soundbites of each other's lives. And last night, with a warm hug, she graciously vanquished any sheepishness I felt about going to the first crit I've been to since school.

Presenting your work in public is a scary thing. I once told a writer friend that it was like "ripping open my chest and saying, 'here's what makes me tick – whaddya think?'" Presenting your work to other artists can be even worse. But last night I was very impressed with the work presented, and with the supportive and constructive comments by a sensitive group.

During the crit, I invariably liked the works even more after listening to the artists describe their motivations and stumbling blocks. I unexpectedly fell in love with a work in pinks and greens from a set of paintings out of Kim Curtis' Landscapes – so much so that I was willing to pull out my checkbook right then. It wasn't exactly the response I thought I'd have to an art crit, but I'm looking forward to visiting Kim's studio soon – and to the next crit!

Sandra Ahten discusses her 3 most recent paintings from an upcoming series of 12.
[Photo posted during crit to my moblog.]

Update: The next Open Crit will be at High Cross Studio (the co-op studio's name refers to its location, not a religious affiliation), 7pm, Wednesday June 15. [MAP]


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