Those of you with whom I've shared some things privately, you know who you are and you are ENORMOUSLY appreciated.
I have almost no one in real life to bounce ideas off of, and no one at all who doesn't have either a solidly vested interest in her/his own position . . . or just isn't interested one way or another. Therefore, I'm asking (begging?) for any input you folks have on this. No question will go unanswered! No comment will go unappreciated!
Nothing much has changed since last Thursday/Friday. I had coffee yesterday with Twanette, the woman who stood up for me last spring when the board first tried to keep me out of the Tour. She is also the woman to whose studio I've been "assigned" as a guest artist. (Before you ask: Policy has always been that active members of Artists of the Superstitions [AOTS] are automatically accepted into the Studio Tour, so the board can't reject me as a participant. They have changed the rules, however, so that they can reject a studio, and they have rejected me that way. Even though I didn't apply to be a guest artist, they have arbitrarily assigned me elsewhere.)
She is well aware that the board placed me with her both deliberately and maliciously. Whether they thought I would be happy -- or at least content -- to be a guest at her studio, or they thought I just wouldn't make a big deal of it, I don't know. But at least she and I are on the same page on their motive: They want me out of the Tour and silenced about it.
I have a variety of options, few of them good. For instance . . .
1. Set up at Twanette's studio, keep my mouth shut, stay in the board's good (?) graces, and maybe sell something.
2. Defy the board and set up on my own in direct competition with their Tour.
3. Pack up and go away, quietly or otherwise.
Setting aside Options #2 and #3 for the moment, I decided to look at just the pros and cons of swallowing my pride and hurt and anger, knuckling under to the board and everyone else, and just being a good little nobody the way everyone tells me to be, even if I'm miserable doing so.
1. Staying in the board's good (?) graces.
2. Maybe selling something.
1. Setting up at a remote (9 miles away) location that's not my studio
2. Limited space to display my merchandise; limited amount of merchandise to display
3. Having to set up canopy, limited shade.
4. Having to share audience/attention with four other artists.
5. Three of the artists are strangers to me, may not even be members of the group.
6. Not knowing what the other artists are selling (paintings, photography, pottery, jewelry?)
7. Having to leave my elderly dogs alone for 10-12 hours two days in a row.
1. The members of the board of directors -- officers, program chairs, etc. -- dislike me because I keep pointing out their errors. No matter what I do, they are never going to like me. I am one of only two remaining original members of the group (started in 2007) and the only person who has been on every Studio Tour. I'm not sure what good it would do me to remain in their good graces by giving in to their bullying/extortion.
2. Twanette said she thinks I would sell lots of jewelry at her house. I don't know why she said this. There is no guarantee, of course.
1. Setting up at a remote (9 miles away) location that's not my studio -- If the idea of a "studio tour" is to have customers visit a variety of artists at their studios to see how they create their works, then this isn't a studio tour for me. Twanette's house is nine miles from mine in an entirely different area of Apache Junction. My inspirations are my view, my rocks, my garden, my trees. All of that would be lacking. I would be just another vendor at just another art show. My enthusiasm for this event has always come from being able to show customers my rocks, my weird cactus, etc. All of that enthusiasm would be gone.
There is also the risk that having once given in to the board's wishes, they would never ever ever let me be a host studio again.
2. Limited space to display my merchandise; limited amount of merchandise to display -- Sharing someone else's yard/driveway/patio with four other artists limits the amount of space I have to display my merchandise and/or to offer any kind of demonstration of how I make my stuff. I don't yet know exactly how much space I would have, but I would have to take my 10 x 10 canopy. If that's the only shade I have, I can't put out certain items that I have always been able to display at my home. Having to transport the canopy also reduces the amount of cargo space in my car, which means I couldn't even take other inventory if there were space at the venue. My participation becomes confined to a 10 x 10 art show booth.
3. Having to set up canopy, limited shade. -- Even in early November, the sun can be brutal in AZ. I have an enormous mesquite tree in my yard, under which I set up for the Tour here. With just a little bit of moving around during the course of the day, I stay in the shade and keep my merchandise shaded as well. Also, I'm able to set up my tables a couple days in advance, and don't set up the canopy at all. I'm not 25 years old any more, and the physical task of all this is not exactly minimal. The canopy is heavy to get into and out of the car, and awkward to set up. At home, I have some assistance with the heavier items. Though Twanette has said there would be people to help at her house, I can't count on that. I never count on anyone else to help me, especially when I don't know who else will be there and also need help.
4. Having to share audience/attention with four other artists. -- When I host the studio tour at my house, I know people have come to see me and my art. I don't worry that they're looking at mine just to be polite in front of other artists. Even if they arrive, give everything a cursory glance, and then leave, I don't worry about the humiliation that they've dismissed mine and are gushing over someone else's. I don't have to worry that other artists are witnessing my being ignored. This is a huge fear magnified by the fact that I don't even know who three of the other artists are.
5. Three of the artists are strangers to me, may not even be members of the group -- Believe it or not, I am actually quite shy and uncomfortable around strangers, especially when I know we are all competing for customers' attention and cash. I have been told often enough that what I do isn't really "art," that I'm just a member of "the crafting riff-raff" and not really an artist at all. While it's easy to dismiss that, it's not so easy to dismiss the feelings of inferiority and inadequacy that repetition has instilled. I've been hearing it much more of my life than I've heard encouragement or compliments.
6. Not knowing what the other artists are selling (paintings, photography, pottery, jewelry?) -- Given the already evidenced malice on the part of the board, I worry that they have placed another jewelry artist with Twanette, someone whose work outshines mine. (That wouldn't be hard to do!) I am ashamed that I don't have fancy, expensive, manufactured displays for my jewelry. I'm embarrassed by my tacky little hand-made origami boxes. When I'm by myself and my display isn't put in direct and visible contrast to someone else's, I can take pride in making my own boxes rather than using flashy but crappy made-in-China stuff, but if I'm right next to someone who has the slick gold-foil-covered boxes, I want to die.
Perhaps most important --
7. Having to leave my two elderly dogs alone for 10-12 hours two days in a row. -- Although BF can adjust his schedule somewhat -- he umpires girls' softball games almost every week-end -- to help minimize the time the dogs are left alone, he sometimes has no control over how long the games last. If he has a late start and leaves the house long after I do, that helps. But he can't always confirm this in advance. I might be left at the last minute facing the fact that Moby and Biscuit will be alone from 6:00 in the morning until 6:00 in the evening. This is a huge worry for me. When I'm here at the house, I can check on them regularly, let them out a couple times during the day, even if only one at a time so they don't annoy customers. (Moby barks furiously and is so deaf now that he can't hear me screaming at him to shut up.) If I were 10 miles away for two solid days, I would worry about them constantly. This would severely impact my enthusiasm for selling my shit.
Less important are things like having my own bathroom, being able to fix my own lunch in my own kitchen. These things are important to me. It's not so much fun when you have to pack a little lunch in a little cooler and it's like just another art show.