Outside Insight

The woman stood just on the fringe of my artist booth, scanning each wall of my paintings from beneath her sunglasses at the summer festival.

“I really love your work,” she said.

“Why thank you very much,” I replied, flattered by her words.

She walked in closer to view the details of my work.

“Wow- there’s so much to these! I mean, if you get up close, there are patterns and great swatches of color, but as you step back it almost turns into something completely different. Reminds me of Batik.”

I had never heard of the term before and mistakenly thought she said boutique, not entirely sure how to respond. Was it some sort of floral reference perhaps? I was baffled and simply nodded my head, not knowing what else to do other than remain silent and assume she meant it as a complement. Leaving the tent, she smiled at me as I wished her a good afternoon.

Once she was out of earshot, JQ offered clarification over the comment. “It’s sort of a design within a design,” she explained.

After I got over my own ignorance, I smiled thinking how insightful the comment was. When we got home, I looked it up and felt gratified. The woman truly understood my intention, providing me not only with an affirmation that I am connecting to an audience, but a path of clarity through a new perspective.

Observations From The Summer Art Market

Over the weekend, I had the opportunity to participate in The Art Students League of Denver’s Summer Art Market, an annual art festival with over 250 artists from the Denver area. The last event I attended like it was over a year ago at The Artist Project in Chicago. It was there I was able to visualize how I wanted my paintings to appear. What, I thought to myself, does a painting by Jared Steinberg look like? As, I reviewed the paintings that hung on the walls of The Merchandise Mart last year, I considered my style, composition and subject matter, recognizing where I would need to channel my efforts to fulfill the vision. Looking over my booth at this year’s event, I noted the evident progress of my work while again acknowledging areas I need to address in order to advance my ideas.

Though I have been focusing on my style for the past year, it is the details within the presentation I now need to focus on. On the Saturday, the first day of the Art Market, I perused through the festival, paying attention to the other artist booths. I realized how the ones I really admired created such a captivating atmosphere through their presentation; from the format of the work, to varying degrees of consistency, down to the exhibition space itself- it became clear to me what I must do. I jotted down a few notes for reference and will be taking time this summer to put them into practice.

Apart from my selfish observations, I was truly amazed by the diversity at the festival this year: three-dimensional work, two-dimensional, pastels, paintings, drawings, abstract, grass-roots, contemporary, traditional, representational, floral, figurative- you name it, I saw it. All of which served to fuel a very high-quality, energetic show that I was pleased to be a part of.

What's In A Name: Part I

The giant row of evergreen trees cast long triangular shadows over us, spilling onto the street, as JQ and I observed from behind the table of our display booth. Being in a Colorado resort town for an art festival was initially a hopeful prospect, but after three days of slow traffic and casual observers, my hope faded with Sunday afternoon’s waning light.

The three-day duration of the festival yielded a trickle of pedestrians milling up and down the street lined with artist tents. Walking in the company of friends and family, the tourists greatly outnumbered serious patrons. Many tended to fixate on a single work or wall of work, with little regard to anything beyond their acute perspective. Some were curious enough to walk into a tent to observe a particular work more closely, while fewer still sought to indulge in a conversation with the artist. The woman selling jewelry across the way from me seemed to be the only exhibitor doing any consistent business while the rest of us interacted with one another, exchanging stories of other shows and sharing various insights about our experience as artists.

JQ and I spent the majority of our time evaluating, rearranging work, and planning for the next event. On the final day of the show, another exhibitor entered into my booth. He observed my work a little before he spoke. He came to inform me of another show coming up, and encouraged me to apply. The conversation meandered into the topic of mutual acquaintances when he suddenly recognized my name.

“Oh, you’re the artist who signs his work in different places,” he said. A little surprised by the comment, I nodded in agreement, as if that was what distinguished me from other painters. After he left, I continued to mull over his remark, not entirely sure how I felt about it. On one hand, it’s nice to be recognized by something distinct; on the other hand, my goal as an artist is to be known for things like uniqueness of style, composition and palette… not a signature. Until that moment, I really hadn’t given much thought to the matter since my college days when I first considered where and how to sign a painting.

To be continued…