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Getting involved in your local arts community

HippieVan at 12:00AM, April 1, 2016

I think most of us who live in or near big cities have been to comic conventions. But despite having such a huge concentration of artists here, we seldom seem to talk about broader arts communities. I’ve always been a casual patron of local art galleries, but the curatorial practicum course I’m doing this year has meant that I’m intimately involved in my local arts community for the first time.

The arts is trying to become a lot more open to the general public, I think. My city has started doing something called “First Fridays,” in which various artists' studios and galleries are open free to the public, and they hold lectures, open pop-up shops, and so on. I've also written before about the very cool youth art programs that they have in some of the lower-income sections of my city. But I think the fact remains that arts and culture communities can be a bit elitist, and more than a little intimidating.

My own experiences this year have been mixed. By far my least favourite event was the gallery opening that I attended a short time ago. I enjoy fancy events, but it was slightly over-the-top for a small opening with live piano music, champagne, and people dressed in black serving goat cheese and kale something-or-others. I got the feeling while I was there that I had stepped into sort of an insular community where everyone knew each other. Having talked to exactly one new person, I slipped out after an hour. I can't imagine someone coming in off the street and feeling welcomed into the community in that environment.

My more informal encounters have been far more rewarding. Aside from one guy who made me feel slightly inferior for liking Dali (too mainstream, obvs.), all of the artists and curators who I've met have been open, helpful, and just generally lovely people. I went to a networking event a couple weeks back that I was very nervous about, and ended up having a great conversation about Ukrainian history with an artist who incorporates Cossack imagery into his work. So cool!

I've also been pleasantly surprised by professional artists' openness to the value of comic book art. I have yet to meet a graphic novel artist who has crossed over into this broader art world, but I've met people who know people - it seems the two worlds aren't completely divided. And the artists who I've talked to certainly respect comics as a legitimate art form. I interviewed an artist yesterday who recalled being inspired by the creative layouts of old superhero comics when his print shop was located next to a used book store.

I think it would be great to get comic artists more involved with artists (and curators, etc.) who work in other mediums. But as with the general public, I think there's more work to be done in terms of making these places open and welcoming in a way where that can really happen.

Are you involved in your local arts community? Any cool programs going on in your area? Do you find that there's a divide between comic artists and other artists?


Wing Eye is wrapping up his long-running comic! From Wing Eye:
"This Friday, April 1st, my comic Phantasy Star Replay will reach the ultimate milestone: It is the last page and the comic will be completed :D"

Have a comic milestone, a community project or some comic-related news that you'd like to see here? Do you have original art for our newspost image database? Send it to me via PQ or at hippievannews(at), or leave a comment below!



bravo1102 at 8:37AM, April 1, 2016

Some of my panels would stack up pretty well against her pieces as individual images. I am just not as politically motivated with winks to the so much smarter in art crowd. I just tell stories.

bravo1102 at 8:32AM, April 1, 2016

I know of Diane Thorneycroft. It's the difference between someone with talent with friends and a knack for marketing and a no talent hacan wannabe.

HippieVan at 7:43AM, April 1, 2016

@KimLuster: Kayaking and hiking every weekend sounds lovely! I wish I lived somewhere where kayaking can happen more than two months of the year.

HippieVan at 7:42AM, April 1, 2016

I totally forgot it was April Fool's Day, btw. Sorry for no clever pranks!

KimLuster at 7:23AM, April 1, 2016

I live probably an hour's drive away from the nearest significant art community. My local town has has the occasional art contest and exhibition which I participate in to some degree - and always feel good when I do... Sometimes I think I should just take charge! But that would mean weekends without kayaking, hiking... :(

HippieVan at 5:49AM, April 1, 2016

@Bravo: the gallery where I'm interning actually recently did a show with an artist who uses plastic dolls/models! Very different from the stuff you do, but you might find it interesting:

bravo1102 at 5:30AM, April 1, 2016

Look up Red Bank and Asbury Park and the local paper the Tri-city news.

bravo1102 at 5:27AM, April 1, 2016

Living in Central New Jersey there are very active local artist communities without going to NYC. But I have rarely had the time outside of wandering around a few shows and galleries. There is even some crossover between model builders and artists. I always remember my experience at an Andrew Wyeth exhibit where I as a plastic model builders understood the medium of dry brushing better than the artists there and explained it to one.

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