I signed a lease on an art studio today. Well, one-third of an art studio. I’ll be sharing it with my friend, Quincy Owens. Thing is: Quincy’s a real artist. As in he sells real art to real patrons — in our town and other towns with names like New York City. I admired his work long before I ever met the guy, and when I first saw him at an art show it was like brushing by someone famous. A couple of years after that show, I started working at the same school where he teaches art and found a humble, down-to-earth, witty man. Now he’s just Quincy O., my co-worker, friend…and studio-mate.
So what am I – a writer – doing sharing an art studio? For about a year I’ve tossed around the idea of renting some sort of writing space. A space where I would go to focus only on my writing. A place without the distractions I have at home (read: children, laundry, dishes.) I also wanted a place where I could mentor young writers, like the girls who joined my WriteHers’ Club last year at the high school where I work.
It seemed natural that I would try to rent a space at the Harrison Center for the Arts, http://www.harrisoncenter.org/about.php
since it’s part of my neighborhood, and directed by my neighbor and friend, Joanna Taft. It is at HCA that I worked as a Fellow to create the WriteHers’ Club, joined the Board of Directors and spent (and still spend) every First Friday with my boys at these monthly art shows and open studio nights. However when I first tossed around the idea, I didn’t have a clear vision for what I could do when it came to open studio nights, in which all artists are required to participate. Each artist must open their studio to guests and potential art patrons during these quarterly shows. But what would I have to show? How exciting is it to walk into an art studio and see words on a paper or a screen?
Enter the Writers’ Gathering. I attended this day-long workshop in November, sponsored by the Writers Center of Indiana. Through a few writing exercises, something clicked. I started seeing my writing in pictures, in elements, in visual art. The next week, Quincy happened to join me in the school cafeteria, and I asked him if he would ever consider a studio-mate, especially one who is a writer. He was genuinely interested and helped me come up with several ideas for 3-D installations that might work for some of the pieces I have been writing. We both agreed that we could work something out and I approached Joanna who ran it by a few more people, which led me to today: the day I signed the lease.
I’m excited about the idea of incorporating visual art with my writing. Having a studio writing space will stretch me in the areas of discipline and creativity. I will have to write more to justify leasing the space, which means I will need to be at the space a couple of times a week to write… even on those days I really don’t feel like it. And it will take courage to produce anything remotely artistic, even with the help of Quincy’s stellar ideas. At the risk of sounding trite, it feels like a new chapter is being written in this thing I call my life. I anticipate both comedy and drama in this one but that’s what makes a good story, right? I hope you’ll look for me at a First Friday in 2012. I’ll be with Quincy.