Do you live in a community that supports the arts? The sad fact is that art-wise, not all communities are created equal. In California for instance the Bay and Central Coastal areas are a lot more “arty” than the Central Valley. I live in one of these “art challenged” areas of California and for many years I listened to my fellow artists whine (yes, I said whine!) about needing to travel to the coast to find buyers for their work. It is true that there are very few galleries catering to local artists here in Fresno and Clovis. All the galleries here only show art by dead masters or don’t open their doors to local artists (Fresno Art Museum) or they are privately owned by one artist or by co-op groups of artists. These galleries do an excellent job of helping to create a local art culture, but most of them are full.
Since moving to the coast wasn’t an option (my husband’s pool service business is located in Fresno), I decided to become proactive about the situation. I decided I needed another option to show my art.
It seemed to me that the chief issue was the general opinion apparently held by the public that my community didn’t have prominent artists. This is simply not true; while a Thomas Kincade or a Bev Doolittle doesn’t live here, Fresno, Clovis and the surrounding cities in the Central Valley are home to national and internationally known artists. We also have many very talented local artists. The big secret is no one knows it. So how do we as artists raise the social awareness of art in our communities? After some consideration, I realized that the best way to raise art awareness was to put art out in places where John and Mary Public would see it. We do have a monthly art event here called Art Hop, where the public is encouraged to tour as many galleries, restaurants and businesses who show art. This would be a wonderful opportunity to raise art awareness if we could persuade our local schools to participate. Unfortunately, the sad fact is that except for a small percentage of the population John and Mary Pubic are too busy working non-stop or taking their children to sports activities and have very little time to take in local galleries. They will however, take their children to the library. If art is displayed in that library, it gives parents and children the opportunity to recognize and see the local art culture. Historically, libraries have always been centers of the arts and culture for society. Artists who support this by displaying their art in the library are doing a great service to the community. Even though artists might not make many sales displaying art in the libraries, our contributions to the art and culture of the area is immense. When we put our art in the library, we not only remind the public what talented, creative artists live here, but how much we care about the community as a whole. One of the things artists contribute to our community as is culture. By displaying our stuff in the libraries, we bring art to life for the general public. Although it is not directly about sales, one of the ways that we artists in Fresno and Clovis convince the buying public how wonderful is our art and photography (and indirectly to buy that art) is the development of a reputation for being a center of art and culture. Sometimes we have to give before we can get.