[ From the Archives of 365 ]
“You have to be so independent. Art schools are very critical. It’s not like sports where you get rewards for winning. In art there is no winning, it’s all personal and no trophies are given for best work.”
As a swore I would never do again, I find myself at an indoor shopping mall again. Not sure why, but as I travel with my daughter (I’m telling you, she is becoming my 365 partner), it is undeniable that I am supposed to be here. We enter, myself hoping for a short visit. In typical 365 style, I approach several people and am promptly and confidently DENIED!
What’s funny is, even before I approached them, I knew I would be rejected. Perhaps I am a little cocky or overcome by the shopping center noise. Either way, I’ve been chopped off at the knees. The night is young, 6pm, and yep, I’m a little freaked that it’s looking like another all-nighter. But I’m with my girl. Can’t let her see me twitchy.
We settle in and decide to browse. What else can I do?—it’s turning into daddy/daughter night. I push my 365 agenda to the side and securely strap all 50 pounds of camera gear on my back (oh yeah, forget to tell you, over the last few weeks my 365 kit has grown from 35lbs to a larger bag). Time to commit to healthy family time by focusing on my girl. Who cares if I have to find my 365 friend after 9pm tonight, I convincingly tell myself.
We have a great time…grab a Mexican dinner, look at furniture, hair stuff, debate about enrolling her in a Hip Hop dance class, and do all the general mall things. With 365 farthest from my mind, we stroll into a little art school that for many years we have ignored. Tonight it looks different though. The art is the same, but we both curiously look at each other, and before I can acknowledge my feelings my kid says, “We have to go in there. Here is your 365 person.” I’m telling you…out of the mouths of babes.
The windows are covered with artwork and partitions block my view of who is manning the shop. We inquisitively walk in and are greeted by the most charming and beautiful artist and teacher, Betsy.
She is spectacular in engaging with my little girl, getting right into art talk, and telling her about what they do at the studio. Betsy is well-trained and eloquently explains the workings of the studio, its training methods, and pricing—even gets us to sign up for a free lesson. I’m not one to impulse buy or commit to a demo, but Betsy’s offering is well-defined and to-the-point. We’re in.
But this is not the reason we are pushed into the shop. I tell Betsy about 365. She is intrigued and tells me of a few other one-year blogs that she knows of. Weird things are happening in 365-land. She is tight with the creator of a blog that, just last week, was recommended to me by Matthew, the guy with the Gestalt theory reference: An edgy site called Skulladay by Noah Scalin.
The world is getting very small for me. Betsy is in, telling me, “I’ll support anything that is about 365.”
How cool is that, she even goes on the tell me of Noah’s newest project: Makesomething365. This is awesome! There is a 365 community out there and I’m not even aware of it. 365-rs of the world, unite!
But what about Betsy? As I said, she is simply charming. Betsy is an artist to the core. I know this because I can relate to the stories she shares. There is a common thread that many right-brainers share. First, is an equally strong left-brain. Need to be equally yoked—it’s a very difficult business and we artists have to be smart, patient, and tenacious in life. Being a good person is also a plus; and in a flash, I know that Betsy possesses all these qualities.
We talk of creative vulnerability, linking it back to the stiff competitive culture fostered in the art departments of higher education. “You have to be so independent. Art schools are very critical. It’s not like sports where you get rewards for winning. In art there is no winning, it’s all personal and no trophies are given for best work.” Betsy frames this experience in a very positive way, using it to help herself and her students feel good about what they create.
How? you may ask. I love this! “We remove the competitive comparison of our students and award them for their uniqueness with trophies for best personal vision and things like that.” What a fun way to help emerging artists own a point-of-view. A very powerful thing, especially for children and youth who are so impressionable. Smart, kind, and fun in my book. And I bet the people coming out of this program have a healthy balance of self-worth and artistic ownership. Great stuff!
Betsy is listening to her own advice. “After years of working in East coast theatre, doing wigs and wardrobe, I realized that I was not growing. Not happy with what I was doing, I left and moved to Los Angeles. I’m happier now and rediscovering my passions.” Let’s just say, Betsy is now rewarding herself.
Picking up, relocating, and chasing a dream is a very brave thing to do, and at only four months into her journey, Betsy looks like she is on the right path.
Not quite ready to show her work to the world (and I understand why), I ask about her future. Her response, “Learning. Making more things. And not being intimidated to show my work.”
Betsy expresses these thoughts to me with peace and power. No longer worried about how people perceive her work, it is obvious that she is in the depths of rediscovery, and I am inspired.
Look out, World! Creative is steaming forward, and Betsy is driving the train.
I did a little research on Betsy. She makes really cool jewelry. Check out her Etsy site and buy a few pieces.