It's been awhile since I have posted anything and frankly I have struggled to figure out what to write about. These long months of winter when we spend time mostly in the studio are fairly solitary and so the creative juices may be flowing but most of the time the feelings and thoughts we have are probably better kept to ourselves. It is hard to know if the new directions are the right ones when you feel like you are working in a bubble so we sometimes decide to do local shows here in Arizona that under normal circumstances we might night choose not to do. The demographics aren't favorable. there is a lack of enough traffic flow and the crowd is probably not looking for fine art as much as decor. We do the shows to test the waters to see if our new work gets a response and also to try to make some money during a slow part of our year.
Recently at one of these shows I had a wonderful conversation with someone that got me thinking about why people come to art shows and what they hope to find when they are looking to buy something. Let's face it, we are facing a change in the art business. Artists are lamenting that young people are not buying art and that the frequent art buyer now complains that their walls are too full or they are downsizing. Well, in my discussion with this lovely "snowbird" she spoke about the many estate sales in her community and the fact that so many elderly have children who just sell all their artwork when they die without caring about the joy they had in collecting it. Which began our conversation about how we can include our families in what we buy when we purchase fine art.
I have a wonderful lifelong friend who has stopped buying for herself and begun buying art for her children. They are in their twenties and she is not giving them the artwork yet but keeping it in her home. You see like her I think so many young people don't buy artwork not because they don't appreciate it but because 1) they can't afford it and 2) they are still very transient in their lives. So if we all bought art as investments in the art collections of our children, meaning with their input and participation, would the work continue through the family as a treasured piece to cherish and preserve? When my father died, he didn't have much and the only thing I really wanted was a painting that I looked at in our house my whole life that I knew he loved. I can still remember conversations with him about this painting and what it meant to him so having it means that I still have a piece of him somehow. We have some Korean silk paintings that Steve's father brought back from Korea for the same reason. If we talk about art with our children, even as adults then perhaps they will understand it's value when we are gone. So my friend Leslie buys the artwork with their input and displays in in their house and once her kids are established in their own place the work will go with them.
Our work appeals to so many young couples who love the work but can't really afford it and I wish their families knew that buying them fine art would be such a nice gift. For many people what they put in their homes is just decoration. If it lasts a few years and ends up in a garage sale may not matter.Yet if we treat that time when we are out looking at artwork together as a special time to share how the works makes us feel with our family maybe the work can become something more. So much time has been spent in creating so much of the work at the art shows we are at, and the moments that are shared between the creator and the buyer who takes a piece home can be very special. From our standpoint, we hear stories about how an image reminds someone of a special time or place, a memory of someone special. Talking with someone about what it meant for us to make that piece of art starts a bond between us, a bond that many times lasts for years. Sharing that experience with your children at whatever age they are will help continue the tradition of supporting the arts and preserving the appreciation of the tradition of handcrafted work.
Bonnie Harmston works side by side with her husband Steve and travels the art show circuit with him.