Being a studio artist often comes with a large dose of solitude. However there are occasions when you'd love to compare notes, or have a dialog about ideas. This is what I have missed since moving to New Jersey eleven years ago. When I lived in San Francisco I was part of an extended family of jewelers. We went to and organized shows together. We purchased materials together. We gave one another feed back and support.
Finally, last year I knew I had to do something about the pervasive isolation. I decided to try to organize a guild. I reached out to an artist whose work I knew, whose teaching position I in fact was offered when she left the country for a couple of years, but whom I had never met.
Amy Roper Lyons and I met for lunch. We discussed our histories, our work, our families, but when I mentioned the idea of a guild, although she liked the idea, she felt it would be too much for her to take on. After our meeting, I was somewhat unsure that I had the will or ability to create something by myself.
But the need for community was too strong not to heed. I would start small, bringing together some teachers for a technique exchange and raise the subject again. Amy Roper Lyons,
Jill Hurant, Kathy Woods, and I met at the metal studio in the Newark Museum where we've all taught. We had such a lively exchange that the time we had ( shortened somewhat by traffic) disappeared even before we got to my demonstration. It was completely invigorating. Everyone was enthusiastic about the idea for a guild. What was initially only a concept, now was an experience of community to build upon.
Amy was on board, thank goodness, because going it alone seemed too overwhelming. Next I organized a lecture at the Newark Museum's Arts Workshop in coordination with
Gallery Loupe while they were hosting the show "Golden Clogs, Dutch Mountains". I promoted the lecture to local university metal teachers, their students, and students from the Visual Arts Center. Gallery Loupe also brought people. Andrea Wagner, the curator of the traveling show, gave a wonderful presentation, after questions and answers with her I spoke about the nascent guild, collecting email addresses of those interested.
From there we held our first meeting at Amy's house with six people in attendance. We chose the name New Jersey Metal Arts Guild. It was clear to everyone that this was the right time and the right place to build a community. We have had four meetings since then. And now we are in the process of officially working to become a non-profit organization.
More have come on board, sixteen, I think, at last count. We have attended jewelry shows together and we have planned our first work challenge with the theme of "Green". We have a wonderful group of teachers, professional studio jewelers, and inspired students. All of them have enough ideas to keep this thing growing well into the future. So if you are a metal artist living in New Jersey and want to be a part of the NJ Metal Arts Guild, just contact me. I look forward to the time when we have a website to link to.