Art friendships are the secret elixir of an artist's life, if you ask me. They are way of getting perspective and remembering to stop and consider milestones, to be kind to oneself and to see things from another perspective. Sometimes, I meet with artists in a more formal way. I find this Studio Visit practice to be more of an east coast norm than a mid west norm. We'll sometimes use a specific structure to meet and work together over the phone, over zoom or in person. Above is my a picnic visit with dear friend and amazing photographer Lisa Abitbol. We met when she bought a painting of mine in about 1997 and stayed mulitple hours (like six?) at my studio when she came to pick it up.
Here is a the kind of formula that I've used with others that help this kind of meeting work well for me and those I meet with (Ceramic artist Leiligh Towfigh calls these "artner" meetings!). I have also created this kind of structure as a coach for artist groups while working with the Arts & Business Council in Boston.
Time boundaries - these allow me to sink into listening better, or sharing, knowing we've got a shared understanding and plan.
1. Check in about time at the beginning so you know what you've got to work with.
2. Do a 15 minute check in each (depending on the time you've got), leaving the last 5 minutes for feedback from the other. It is really helpful to have one of you keep time, and not to be squeamish about just stating when time is up. Otherwise, the vagueness of time creates a little energy leak that's unnecessary and counter to really diving in.
In checking in, I like to answer and suggest to the other person some combo of these questions as prompts:
"What am I working on?
What's going well?
What are my challenges?
What would be great to walk away with from this meeting today?"
Sometimes we choose to respond to these or similar questions by writing on these questions first, and then we each check in for 5 - 10 minutes and give feedback. Usually, there's an obvious interest in the talking or the writing, depending on how the day is going.
3. Once that's done, we look into what kind of time is left, and we might do a second round with more focus on whichever is most either in need of support or perspective, or we work quietly in parallel, leaving 5-10 minutes at the end to check back in on where we landed.
(Above is an image of artist and friend Paloma Nunez Regueiro visiting me with some of her treasures in my studio last fall).
4. If it's a regular meeting, we might want to mention steps we intend to take in that wrap up, and then we may start with how that went in the check-in next time.
It's also very important that you be clear in the kind of feedback you are looking for, and what you are not looking for. Some people give advice or critical feedback on a project you have completed, and that can feel yucky when you didn't ask for it. If you're not sure, ask: What kind of feedback would you like?, or what questions do you have for me? Try to avoid seeking approval for your work or just giving empty strokes of praise - so the exchange can have some meaning and depth.
There are also many critique type processes that you can also apply with a little internet sleuthing to get pointers on this if you'd like them.
Some of my regular artner friendships have been with Sue Murad (film, performance, artist books below), Andi Sutton (interactive and public projects MN), Valerie Isaacs (painting), poet Carrolle Morini (poet and librarian), and Erika Blumenfeld (literal artist to the stars). May there be many more to come!
THIS IS HOME
May 27 - June 26
Gallery B in Castine, ME
A four woman exhibition opening Feb 3 2023 at the Ann Arbor Art Center.
Curated by Thea Eck.
Janice Charach Gallery
West Bloomfield MI
Jan 15-Mar 1 2023
Works of pure abstraction by 18 artists including five new puffies!
Make your own hand sewn book from the papers left by a loved one.
If you feel overwhelmed, confused or just plain excited by what's afoot in your life, and would like some excellent clarifying space and tools, try a session with Hannah! She's been a coach for 15 years. First 30 minutes is just to see what it's like...
Hannah Burr is a contemporary artist and author. Originally from Boston, she lives in Ann Arbor MI.