The Latest from American Women Artists

Carrie Waller Abundance

By Dyana Hesson, AWA Signature and Board Member

You are not an island. Grab some artist friends, start a group, and begin to celebrate your successes.

I first read about the Algonquin Roundtable in Harpo Marx’s book Harpo Speaks. The group was compiled of New York City writers, critics, actors and performers who met each day for lunch at the Algonquin Hotel from 1919 to 1928. They dreamed and collaborated.

So, a few years ago, some artist friends and I started a group. We call ourselves the POP- T’Arts. We decided we would meet for breakfast in a fun location in Phoenix, talk over our current projects and ideas and encourage one another. An artist’s life can be quite solitary, and we felt there was a need to be social and support one another. Over time, we added other members to our group and also invited guests, mostly emerging artists, so they could ask our opinions and clarify their direction with their own art. We have seen successes, failures and funks in our group, but truly, mostly successes.

Here are some tips to start your own group:

  • Meet at in artistically invigorating location. We have varied our locations over the years, and currently are meeting at happy hour time rather than breakfast, but the location can truly be a spark for creativity. It’s also an opportunity to network with a local business.
  • Don’t get too large. We have about 10 regular members, but not all can come every time. Be cautious about adding new members, as it can truly bog down the amount of time everyone has to share their projects. We have opted to create a guest artist opportunity, wherein emerging artists can come with their ideas and receive input from the group.
  • Show up at the events of your fellow group members. I can’t tell you how many times I have looked up during a show to see my posse of artists supporting and smiling at me. This is key. This is community.
  • Be flexible. We are loosey-goosey with our dates. We do not have a set date each month; instead, have a Facebook group where we decide when and where to meet. In this way, our group does not become a burden on a to-do list, but rather something we look forward to.
  • Be diverse. Our group is comprised of painters, sculptors, photographers, men, and women, of all ages. This becomes very helpful when you have a project and you need opinions; you need the lens of diversity to know whether your project has appeal.
  • Do fun things. This year we added a Christmas party potluck at my home with a white elephant gift exchange. It was a joyful gathering.

So, grab a group and get started. You will be amazed and delighted to see the things you talk about around the table come to fruition. And this time next year, perhaps you will be celebrating a plethora of successes with your artist friends.