Organization Profile: Salt Lake City
by Laura Durham
What do you get when you bring together a child pathologist, a nurse, a teacher, a business owner and an intellectual property attorney? An artist group, of course. These individuals are all members of an artist support group called Painters6.
Painters6 began over five years ago when six women met on a painting excursion to Italy with artist and Lifelong Learning instructor Willamarie Huelskamp. Huelskamp had begun an artist group and mentioned how much she got out of it, so Cheryl Coffin, Julie Morriss, Erin Rosenberg, Chris Kapsa, Nancy Swanson and Joy Nunn joined forces and initiated an endeavor that would help them achieve their artistic goals.
One of the members, Joy Nunn, explains: “It’s really easy to not have time to do art when you’re already working. So being in this group forces us to create something. We meet once a month, and we each have an assignment to bring a piece to each meeting for a critique. It helps to have that hanging over your head when you’re not in an actual art class.”
Nunn finds it beneficial to have five other people with similar interests but different artistic perspectives to talk to about her artwork. “Because we do different things like printing, oil, watercolor and monotypes, it’s nice to share what we’re learning. We’re not art students in a university setting, so there’s a lot we don’t know. I go to art supply stores and I don’t know what everything is for. So it’s really nice to share not only our finished product, but the process as well. Consequently some of us have branched out to try different things.”
Sharing information has endless advantages and provides opportunities that an individual attempting to begin an art career on their own might not have. “We do a critique, we share information. Anytime I see a notice about a juried show, Gallery Stroll or seminars at the Utah Arts Council, I share that with the group because they may or may not have seen it. We also share information about classes we’ve taken, classes we’re thinking about taking. One of our members is an intellectual property attorney. We got into a big discussion about the copyright issues when it comes to artwork. We haven’t run out of things to talk about.”
Besides providing a forum for critique and sharing of materials and technique, a group such as Painters6 has financial advantages: a group of artists has collective buying power. Supplies are always less expensive in bulk, and sharing studio space brings down the rent considerably. An artist group also provides unique exhibit opportunities. It takes a long time to develop enough work worthy of an exhibit, but if you partner with five other artists, your body of work increases substantially.
Joy Nunn started out with two paintings to her name – hardly a marketable body of work. But after three years, Painters6 felt that, collectively, they had something worth showing somebody. “We started by having a show in Ogden at a coffee shop. We had some nice comments, but we didn’t sell a thing. We learned that with most coffee shops, people come to drink coffee and talk, not to buy artwork.”
Painters6 decided to exhibit at friends’ homes, and discovered they had more success when they made it an art event with an invited guest list. Combining mailing lists broadened each artist’s audience. As Nunn says, “You can only hit up your friends and relatives so long.” Organizing an exhibit is a learning process, but having the support of others with different ideas and skills makes it easier. “It’s just a way for people who are beginning to get a taste for what it takes to put on a show schlepping it here and there, what you need to set it up. I don’t think I would have experienced these things if I did this on my own.”
Painters6 now consists of eight women, all professionals outside the artistic field but with a common interest in creating art and learning more. “As long as we have the time and the interest, I would like to keep the group going. I feel my work has evolved as we continue to put our work out as a group.”
Painters6 will exhibit at the Anderson-Foothill Library in Salt Lake City (1135 South 2100 East) through May 4, 2005. A public reception will be held Thursday, March 17 at 7 PM.
This article originally appeared in the March 2005 edition of 15 Bytes.
Laura Durham works for KUED Channel-7 in the Creative Services Department, curating community engagement projects for both PBS and KUED productions that foster trust and value to the communities in Utah. She also produces Contact with Mary Dickson and Contact in the Community — a digital series featuring arts and culture groups in Utah. Prior to her work at KUED, Laura spent 15 years at the Utah Division of Arts & Museums in the visual arts program and later managing communications, branding, marketing, and public value projects for all arts and museums programming. She has served the Utah community in various capacities with her role as Vice President of the Salt Lake Gallery Association and Program Director for the Salt Lake Gallery Stroll. She lives in Salt Lake City, sings with Utah Chamber Artists, and loves to contribute to 15 Bytes as often as time allows.