Chautauqua School of Art Welcomes Community to Explore Students’ Workspaces

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To get ready for the Chautauqua School of Art Open Studio Night, painter Mike Cole will be dressed to impress.

“I’ll put on my one outfit that doesn’t have paint on it,” Cole said. “It’s a pair of shorts and a T-shirt … so that’s what I’m going to wear.”

Cole’s attire might perfectly describe the mood of the event, which takes place from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. Monday in the Arts Quad, when anyone can step into studios and talk to students and purchase their art. It’s special enough to warrant non-paint-covered pants, as well as drinks served by VACI Partners, who will be at the event to attract new members.

However, Open Studio Night’s casual ambiance does give the art students a chance to breathe in between wrapping up the Annual Student Exhibition and gearing up for faculty critiques of their works, which start Tuesday and end Thursday.

Last year, despite rain, hundreds of people came to the event to support the art students, said Lois Jubeck, VACI’s managing director. People can ask students about their work and even buy it during the event, which could go toward someone’s airfare or help pay for gas, as some students had to make sacrifices to attend the School of Art, Jubeck said.

Cole, a graduate student at the University of California, Davis, is a painter who also often uses drawings and photographs in his work. He said he has enjoyed getting to know Chautauquans through the Friends of an Art Student program and the student exhibition, and even said one of the women who bought his sculpture lived around the corner and invited him to meet her friends and have dinner.

Thus, Open Studio Night will be another opportunity to interact with the community and hear their opinions about his artwork, which can be very helpful.

“People who aren’t necessarily artists or are really invested in art, … their questions are usually the best ones,” Cole said. “It’s always nice to see an outsider’s reaction, sometimes they pick up on something that I’m like, ‘Oh yeah, I didn’t think about that. Maybe that’s something I should think a little bit more.’ ”

Similarly, Brenda Gonzalez, a sculptor who recently graduated from Dartmouth College, said she is excited about getting community feedback. Gonzalez said Open Studio Night should be a little different from the exhibition because only a few of her pieces were shown there and interspersed between other people’s works. People who visit her studio tonight will be able to see more of her pieces all in one space and find the connections between her paper sculptures and prints.

Josh Lindamood, a ceramist who just graduated from Maryville College in Tennessee, said people at Chautauqua have been generous and willing to provide him guidance. Chautauquans such as Betsy Vance, the president of VACI Partners, have hosted parties and invited him to their houses and to meet their families. Even at the student exhibition, people were giving him advice about what area to move to or what show to apply for. Lindamood said he will continue to remember those relationships even after the arts program concludes this summer.

“It was really exciting to have the opportunity for open studio, especially to bring all the Chautauquans and people from the area, because a lot of the times if we don’t have interactions with them in the classes, then they don’t always get to see what we’re working on,” Lindamood said. “When we can have that time together, we form a lot stronger bonds with them, and that’s really what continues to grow the art community.”

Rachel Yang

The author Rachel Yang