Guest blogger Judith HeartSong shares how an art community is built – and her idea to help you start your own.
Salon – an Artful Conversation is a monthly meeting of artists, writers, and arts professionals who come together to bond, network, and get out of their heads for a little while. It is a conversation, a support group, sometimes a counseling session, always a networking extravaganza, an experimental lab for new ideas, and a place to learn and grow by leaps and bounds as an artist and professional.
I founded salon more than three years ago in my artist studio in the town of Glen Echo, Maryland. For several years before that I had considered the landscape of the DC art world, and its many small but separate artist communities….. much in need of some something to bring them together.
Community-building was needed and with my history as the membership chair for the Central Florida chapter of the Women’s Caucus for Art, organizer of community art shows and events, and PR expertise built over a long and successful art career – I knew that community-building was something I had a good working knowledge of and expertise to share.
I started doing research of artist discussion groups around the country online, took lots of notes and talked to lots of people. Some common threads started to emerge in what people were doing and what was working, and I got excited about the prospects of putting a group like this together. I then brainstormed with a lot of friends and supporters to hash out some specifics before going any farther with this idea, and that work took months.
When it was time to take the idea public, I created a survey and asked artists friends what they were interested in – what would bring them out of their studios and homes on a weeknight to attend a discussion group. It turned out these painters, photographers, jewelers, pastel artists, ceramicists, sculptors, fiber artists, mixed media artists, poets, writers, performance artists, designers, and more, all wanted COMMUNITY!!
So, Salon – an artful conversation is . . . a conversation. It is always free to the public. It’s held on weeknights, or during the work day in a studio center; it can be brunch on a Saturday; it can be a free-flowing talk about what is going on in the studio; an informal critique group; an organized discussion with a presenter. It can be people of like profession, or a wide-ranging group of people with different practices and backgrounds.
With this long running proven business model, I decided it was time to share the formula for creating your own salon discussion group where you live. I created the Salon Starter Kit for artists all around the country who also have a dream of creating bonds and building community where they live. This 27-page kit gives you every bit of information that you need to start your own successful group with your artist colleagues in your own community.
Along with your kit you receive our PR expertise when you have questions, as well as a listing of your monthly events on our website and advertising on our Facebook and Twitter pages. As the Salon brand grows, imagine an artist living in Portland who is traveling to New Mexico on a painting holiday. That artist can reference our site and see where the closest Salon discussion group is meeting, and can attend and meet a whole host of new artists.
Some of the helpful information you’ll receive includes: choosing salon topics, finding great speakers, choosing a venue, food and drink, knowing your audience, social media and Salon, and the Salon checklist.
Salon is currently running successfully in Maryland at a number of art centers including VisArts and BlackRock, and will soon start up after the new year at Judith’s new artist studio center – Artists & Makers Studios. Salon has also expanded to Virginia where it has found a permanent home at the Torpedo Factory Art Center.
Judith HeartSong is a professional artist with 33 years of experience as a painter, muralist, and mixed media artist. She has painted large murals along the eastern seaboard, including a large mural at the National Zoo. She has successfully licensed her work to a number of companies and one of her paintings was presented to Hillary Clinton at President Clinton’s first inauguration. Judith has curated, juried, and hung countless shows and exhibits, and has extensive experience and expertise in PR and arts administration. She also worked as the art director for the very successful corporate art consulting firm, ArtMatters here in metro DC for more than 8 years. She is currently working to open a new artist studio center in Rockville, MD. Artists & Makers Studios will open in early 2015.