by guest blogger Cherilyn SunRidge
When I moved from my mountain studio into a city, one of the first things I sought was a local art community. Right here in our Portland, Oregon metro town is the Three Rivers Artist Guild, which was founded March 2007. I went to my first meeting in 2012 and was delighted at the rows of attendees, was automatically and kindly introduced as a first time guest by the person seated next to me, and felt like I had found a supportive venue to explore. During my first year, our Guild membership grew due to the outreach of several members into our community and county.
During my first several months of attending monthly meetings, one phrase which President Linda Merry Gross easily spoke out, has stayed with me: “We are all volunteers. We help each other. If you want to serve on one of our committees and don’t know how, we help you.”
I now know that this is a strong undercurrent of our Guild. More than a salon, our Guild has by-laws, elected board members, and recently was granted 50l(C)3 status, due to efforts of some members with expertise in this area. The Guild’s website provides profiles and links for its members to have their art available for the public to view outside of the Guild.
Our group is open to everyone interested in the arts, producing art or not. The Guild governs the Three Rivers Gallery & Gifts, which has its own operating committee and pays for rental space for our artists to exhibit what they have made. Our platform is to support and give artists a venue to show and sell their art.
Discussions have been active regarding “fine art versus craft,” and it always comes back to the mission statement of encouraging appreciation of the arts in the community, encouraging and elevating the arts. Therefore, the jury process which each new member must go through in order to exhibit in the Gallery is to determine appropriateness for a family venue, and not to judge the maturity or refinement of the art, even though our members’ art is fabulous.
Speakers are brought into our monthly meetings from our surrounding community: e.g., accountants for art business, social media experts, mail order print selling, a local oil paint manufacturer representative, copyright law, as well as presentations from our members who stand up to speak about their creative process/challenges with a piece/influences and show us their work. Our meetings are not only educational but entertaining as well.
Because our Guild is visible in the community, we also are included in county-wide artistic activities. There is a strong sense of sharing all regional calls-to-artists to provide possible venues for exhibition in addition to our Gallery & Gifts. It is clearly a product of the community as a whole, where different committees within the Guild take responsibility for certain activities: plein air events; city-wide festivals; quarterly gallery artist receptions; and recognition and support within the local business community, networked as pARTners-in-art.
I think the underlying strength of a group is in accepting the uniqueness of each artist, their individual medium and voice. And, in accepting the strengths of each individual, in promoting not only arts within the community but also promoting shared participation within the group/guild. Appreciated members naturally participate, offering their networking/organizing/technological talents, which all go to promoting awareness of the arts within the community.
Guest blogger Cherilyn SunRidge is a contemporary painter, and also hold the position of Public Relations Coordinator for the Three Rivers Art Guild.