Tuesday, March 20, 2012

If there were witchcraft--redux

A rainy day at Depoe Bay, Oregon

When I started this blog, I named it for a song we used to sing around the campfire at church camp. The way I learned the song, there were two wishes, "a winding road that beckons me to roam," and "a blazing campfire to welcome me when I'm returning home." Driving back from Portland a couple of weeks ago, I realized that I'm living pretty much my ideal life. I'm traveling more than at any time in the past, and I have a beautiful (if very cluttered) home to return to--sans blazing campfire. Put another way, as long as I have a good atlas, my camera, and a book or several, I'm a happy camper.

Today is March 20th, 2012. In the past five months I've traveled to Los Angeles, the Oregon Coast and northern California, Las Vegas, Calgary and the Canadian Rockies, Miami and south Florida, and Portland. That's six relatively major trips in five months. That doesn't count the various road trips around western Montana. Not too shabby for someone who loves the open road. And I've always had my beloved Missoula home waiting for me on my return.

Since we closed our business December 1st, my one concern has been money. Closing the business ended any income, but, unfortunately, didn't stop the expenses. I'll be honest. We're struggling right now, as are many Americans. The trips have all been tied into attempts to raise funds, find business partners, sell assets, etc. As I write this, I'm in the office in Missoula, while Kevin just called me from Plentywood, Montana, in the northeastern corner of the state. He's on a trip looking for work in the Bakken oilfields--the only place in our region right now where the jobs and money aren't scarce. Work in the Bakken is plentiful and pays well, but the living expenses are high and the hours are grueling. It's a young man's world, and I fear Kevin is too old to keep up the pace. I know I am, which is why I'm not even looking.

But enough of that. One of my gurus, Marsha Sinetar, wrote a book: Do What You Love: The Money Will Follow. I'm out to prove her right, for what I'm doing now I truly love. When we closed the business, we were locked into a lease on the retail space in downtown Missoula. I asked Kevin if I could turn our space into an art gallery, and he agreed. I now have a place where I can display my photography and weaving, and I have a loom set up in the space so that I can weave during slack times. I'll not kid you. All the time is slack right now, as almost no one has found my Sharrott Creek Gallery. But that can change. I have a good location downtown. It's just a matter of getting the word out.

Vegas from the Convention Center

Missoula has long had a First Friday Gallery Walk on, surprise, the first Friday of each month. I submitted the information, and the Missoula Cultural Council put us on the list for March 2nd. I prepared a show of photos I'd taken in South Florida, some twenty-one different images, most of which I printed on my new Epson Style Pro 9900 printer, a mammoth beast capable of printing images up to 44" wide on any one of a number of media including glossy photo paper, matte paper, and even canvas. The printer was one of the benefits of attending the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Vegas, as was our new association with Anvy Digital of Calgary, Alberta. The PMA (Photo Marketing Association) was holding their annual conference in conjunction with the CES, and while Kevin was hobnobbing with the communications geeks, I was wandering through the photo booths. All of this I wrote about back when it happened, so if you're curious, just run back to my January posts.

I've written up all the details of the current exhibit on our Sharrott Creek Gallery website, and there are links to the photos on display on that site. Setting up the gallery's website has been fun, and I'm quite pleased with the way it's turned out. We viewed March 2nd as our Grand Opening, and I sent out some fifty invitations in addition to the promotional work that the Missoula Cultural Council did. While we didn't have a large turnout, and made not a single sale, I consider the opening a success. Eleven people visited the gallery that evening, five of whom were not on my invitation list, and three of whom were total strangers. We can only grow from here. (To put things in perspective, one gallery owner told me that he has often had three people show up on First Friday, and on March 2nd, as he was showing the work of eight artists, he was expecting sixteen. On the other hand, the event is quite popular, and established galleries downtown entertain throngs.)

The Banff Springs Hotel
Banff National Park, Alberta, Canada

The trip to Calgary included a meeting with the folk at Anvy Digital, another CES connection. Anvy Digital has produced a line they call Image Style which involves printing art on an adhesive backed canvas paper. Once printed, the image is applied to a hard surface, which is then mounted to a frame using velcro. The whole process of taking a digital image from memory card to framed print can be done in less than an hour. The advantage of mounting the image using velcro is that when the customer wants to change decor, you pop out the old picture and easily install a new one in the same frame. As framing is a major cost in any art endeavor, this has major benefits for the consumer. As the only place offering this service in western Montana, Sharrott Creek Gallery is positioned to score big. If only I can get the word out. The image I used to showcase the ImageStyle line is a photograph I took in Miami Beach, one I call "Hotels and Umbrellas."

Hotels and Umbrellas, Miami Beach, Florida

So let me return to my opening theme. I am a happy camper. I sit in a lovely spot downtown, surrounded by art that I have created. I have the time and ability to travel and see new sights, camera in hand. I return home to turn those digital pixels into beautiful wall art. I meet new people regularly, and share my experiences with them. If you're in the area, drop by. I've got a coffee pot and hot water for tea. Let's sit and chat. If you have memory cards full of your own images, images you'd like to see on your wall instead of inside your phone, your camera, your computer, bring me the memory card or e-mail me the file and let's make your dreams come true. Mine are.

The Epson Style Pro 9900, at home at Sharrott Creek Gallery, Missoula

Sharrott Creek Gallery
401 W. Broadway, Suite C
Missoula MT 59802


High Anglican Hiker said...

Congratulations -- from lemons to lemonade. May you have customers compliment the artwork and complement the contentment.

High Anglican Hiker said...

I was reminded of your wanderlust as I chanced to read an old journal entry from 40 years ago: 'We went to church today in San Leandro with Bryan. His father preached the sermon...He and Mrs. Spellman are going to Bakersfield on business for Armstrong. They left right after the social hour. We went for a drive in the country with Bryan to Jenner and back. It was a good day by the ocean, no wind even though it was a bit cool.' 180 mile round trip through 4 counties -- isn't that everyone's idea of what to do after the church social hour?

BDSpellman said...

Sounds like a Sunday Drive to me!