Give and Take
The New York Times Magazine published an article in March of 2013 titled Is Giving the Secret to Getting Ahead? on Adam Grant’s best selling book Give and Take. The book, highlights stories of boundless generosity resulting in surprising rewards. For example: the writers who start out working free on a project for a friend (and somehow end up among the most successful in Hollywood). I very much admire Grant’s approach.
This week I was asked to sit on the panel at Maitland Art and History Association’s Artists’ Critique and Conversation. Why not? I like art AND conversation. And I’ve been on both ends of a critique, many times. Artists’ Critique & Conversation is an exciting initiative to assist in the professional development of local artists. Artists of every medium and skill level are encouraged to participate in the critiques, and each critique reviews up to 9 artists bi-monthly.
In my email correspondence with the executive director about volunteering to be a panelist for the critique, I was reminded that I have been coveting the chance to do some texture rubbings on the relief carvings of the Maitland Art Center for quite some time now. Andrea had given me permission previously to do the rubbings, but I wanted to make sure her offer still stood. My plan was to spend the morning making texture rubbings and shooting a new headshot at the Art Center. “Yes Elizabeth, you still have our permission to make the rubbings. And no, we would not allow anyone else to do so, but you are special.” I’m not any more special than anyone else, but I do give of my time and talent to the Art Center.
Doug was able to take location and new headshot photos of me on the grounds, as well as detail shots of the Maitland Art Center, because he donated his time and photographic talent (and about 200,000 images) to the Participation Dinner Affair earlier this year. Devin Dominquez, Director of Development, was happy to extend a photo permit to Doug. (You must have permission to stage a photo shoot on the grounds of the Art Center.)
And of course I had a new roll of rice paper and those crayons in my purse…
So off we went with the camera and the crayons for a morning at the Art Center on the day of the Critique. We had wonderful Florida weather, hot, muggy and buggy. By mid morning we had shot all the images we thought we would need, and rubbed crayons over rice paper on a mere FRACTION of the amazing concrete relief carvings. The Maitland Art Center (formerly known as The Research Studio) is a historic site in Maitland, Florida. It was founded and designed by architect and artist J. Andre Smith in 1937. On November 17, 1982, it was added to the U.S. National Register of Historic Places.
The Maitland Art Center is one of the few examples of Mayan Revival in the southeast. A modern architectural movement, primarily of the 1920s and 30s, Mayan Revival drew inspiration from the architecture and iconography of pre-Columbian Mesoamerican cultures.
Way Back When
Believe it or not, I took a long hiatus from painting and drawing in my life. Our children are 16 months apart, the beginning years of marriage and child rearing are somewhat of a blur to me. Maybe it was lack of sleep. In those days, I didn’t have time to draw or paint. Chasing toddlers around and trying to work from home as a freelance graphic designer took up pretty much all my waking hours (and some of my supposed sleeping hours).
It was not until the kids were toddlers and I carved out the time to take a weekly class at the Maitland Art Center, that I got back into my art again on a more serious level. I had almost forgotten the sheer joy and jubilation painting and drawing offered me. Meeting friends and spending time talking about local art shows and opportunities to exhibit our work, was like a slice of heaven. I took the same pastel still life course over and over again in Studio 6 for years, just to make the time to be inspired and motivated by like minded people. I think i could have taught the class, but it was taking the class that made all the difference.
I kept working on my skills, looking for my own voice, showing my work. Years later I had managed to make a name for myself locally with the beginnings of my signature collage style. One day I found one of my cow collages hanging at Comma Gallery in Orlando along side a painting by the Curator of the Maitland Art Center. We chatted, we looked at other artists’ work, we compared notes, we talked about the success of orange under painting. And then he said, “Elizabeth, how would you like to have an exhibition of your work at the Art Center?”
I died and went to Mayan heaven.
In 2010 Exquisite Harmony hung at the newly remodeled Maitland Art Center Galleries 1-3. My first museum show raised the value of my art work and expanded my reputation as an artist. The first time Growing Bolder interviewed me was when I was in the midst of delivering and hanging that show. Another wonderful opportunity afforded me by my connection with the Art Center.
Being a Part of Something Bigger
When I got the call to join Trent Tomengo and Dawn Shreiner on the panel for the Critique, the answer was immediately “Yes!” Just as it had been when the Art Center asked me to be a Participation Dinner Affair Artist. After all the Maitland Art Center has helped me to achieve, these were my opportunities to give back.
Giving a critique to an emerging artist can be intimidating. You don’t want to say that “Everything is great. I love it. Don’t change a thing.” Because that’s not constructive or helpful. Yet, you don’t want to be too critical, you tread carefully on their feelings and the fact that they have just put their heart and soul up there for you to review. Essentially they’ve handed over something they gave birth to and asked you to tell them what you think. You can’t take that sort of responsibility lightly.
When I critique art, I try to offer compliments on what I think works well first, then I offer things that I think could be improved upon. Now remember, art is subjective, this is merely my opinion. You have to “take all comments about your work with a grain of salt.” “Consider the source,” and whatnot. You basically take all the advice that you get from other parents about that new baby, you put them in a diaper bag and shake them up, then you pluck out a combination of what works for you.
We had five diverse and talented artists show their work at the Critique. We had a full house of people who came to hear what the panel had to say about the art. I enjoyed being part of the process, and the opportunity to encourage local emerging artists to pursue their dream. Even if you aren’t bringing art to the table (easel) you might enjoy being part of the audience at one of these events which are free and open to the public. Come out, get a glass of wine, and take it all in.
If you know me, you know I am fond of foot photos as they show off my love of fashion, which is second only to my love of art. Even though I was getting down on the ground and rubbing the texture of stones on the pathway, I had to sport these fun yellow shoes so that Doug could get an image that visually represented my personal connection and history with the Art Center.
Moving Forward – Giving Back
As we move forward with our goals and aspirations, let us not forget to be thankful for family and friends who have supported us along the way. And let us remember to always be willing to lend a helping hand, to give of our time and talent in assisting or encouraging someone else.
Adam Grant’s book Give and Take incorporates scores of studies and personal case histories that suggest the benefits of an attitude of extreme giving at work. Many of the examples — the selfless C.E.O.’s, the consultants who mentor ceaselessly — are inspiring and humbling, even if they are a bit intimidating in their natural expansiveness. These generous professionals look at the world the way Grant does: an in-box filled with requests is not a task to be dispensed with perfunctorily (or worse, avoided); it’s an opportunity to help people, and therefore it’s an opportunity to feel good about yourself and your work. (according to the New York Times article).
I sincerely hope to be invited back to be part of the Artists’ Critique and Conversation panel.
With any luck, Andrea will let me make more texture rubbings on my way.
for being a part of my
For more information on how you can take a workshop from me and put your project up on the critiquing block, visit my studio Facebook page for a complete listing of classes. No Facebook account required.
Click on any Douglas Nelson Photography image to enlarge. Visit his photo Facebook page for more stunning images.
To learn more about Artists Critique and Conversation and how to get your work reviewed, visit the Art Center website.