There's a fortuitous synergy that seems to happen each time I begin gathering material for this column, some event in the art community relevant to what I intend to write about that calls out for recognition. This time out I envisioned a wide overview of how those in the Humboldt art scene use the Internet.
"Perfect!" exclaimed Jemima Harr, director at Humboldt Arts Council (HAC). "We have been working on a grant from the California Arts Council that will allow us to completely revamp our website and offer our members their own individual web pages, and we will launch it during the last week of January 2011."
This is a truly fantastic opportunity for local artists to create a Web page to promote their art, craft, photography or gallery to the largest possible potential audience: the world. It's a good start for many who, for one reason or another (cost, learning curve), have not pursued creating what is becoming a real need: a web presence. New tools and ways of communicating can help us mature, flourish and leave old assumptions, perceptions, and aversions behind. The World Wide Web is about connecting and supporting each other.
Artists who are already members of HAC are well aware of the limitations of its former Arts Directory site. The plan for the new site is to display an individual's work while simultaneously presenting Humboldt County artists as a regional group. In addition to visual arts, the HAC "ArtsOnline Artist Pages" will encompass performing arts, theatre arts, literary arts, galleries, art organizations and any other arts services. And because the Arts Council is a local partner with the state, the site is linked with the greater California Arts Council's sites, such as the statewide Convention and Visitors Bureaus.
Annual HAC membership for artists is $30. (Such a deal!) As a member of HAC you'll be able to access and manage your page directly with a password to upload and change up to 10 images along with links to your blog and your Facebook page, a résumé your e-mail address, etc.
To get you going the Arts Council is offering two free HAC ArtsOnline Workshops: Saturday, Feb. 19, at 2 p.m. and Thursday, Feb. 17, at 6 p.m. at the Morris Graves Museum of Art where the HAC Webmaster will walk you through setup and answer questions. If you're not already an HAC member you can sign up at that time or join through the website, humboldtarts.org.
There's more good news on the local level. Jack Bentley, director of HSU's First Street Gallery, says, "As part of our curatorial program, we are working on a project that will allow students to help artists in the community build their portfolios and have access to high-quality photography of their work at competitive prices." With that another sorely-needed tool drops into the arts community tool box.
Much is also happening at the state level. There's an increased PR campaign, the Million Cal Arts Plates, to support CAC and pay for this web program, plus new rules that will allow taxpayers to check a box on their returns to donate to the arts.
And of course Jerry Brown is back in town. Regional arts councils flourished under his governorship because he had an enlightened perspective on how the arts actually function in California. He noted that the sales of art supplies were in the billions and jobs associated with training in arts and crafts, from the movie industry to advertising to the emerging graphic explosion of Silicon Valley, contributed substantially to the wealth of the state. How the arts will fit into the lean state budget he's proposing remains to be seen.
If you've looked around on the Internet you know a number of our local artists are already making use of the web and more are following every day. Here are a few that I've discovered. (Please note that the online version of this story includes links to the various sites.)
Joan Gold's outstanding site might be all you need to know to experience the potential for excellence on the web. She is a hard-working artist who depends on the web for income, and her site epitomizes clear presentation and connectivity. She also includes links to send you to other stellar fellow players in this web game.
Textile artist Constance "Connie" Rose is on the cutting edge in her studio quilts, some using shibori, a Japanese dyeing technique akin to tie-dye. With the Constance Rose Designs site, she's also on the cutting edge of marketing and blogging. Don't miss the link to her "Collage Journey," a blog with a new collage daily.
Lost Coast Daily Painters started with five women painters, former Art Beat columnist Linda Mitchell, another Journal columnist Amy Stewart, Kathy O'Leary, Rachel K Schlueter, and Susan Fox. They set a goal of doing a small painting every day with most of the work available on eBay or through the e-commerce site Etsy.
"It was conceived as a shared marketing effort, a way to market ourselves as a regional group with a Humboldt identity and sell work all over the world," said Stewart, admitting that she hasn't been keeping up on one-a-day lately. Fox has since dropped out and others have joined, including a few men. Each artist has a link to their own site or blog. Some also link to Zazzle, a site offering cards, mugs, even apparel adorned with their imagery.
Hal Work is a photographer and congenial master of Adobe Photoshop who does wide-format print through his business, Lucid Works. He's also an expert website designer specializing in development for artists and photographers, so you can expect a great site from him. He currently has a slide show of night shots from Old Town on the main page that show off his style.
The First Street Gallery site connects you to HSU's art department and professors, to their lively Facebook page, and to an ever-enlarging archive and is the place to go for info about the university's program to assist artists.
That's a small start. Remember the rules of the road for the web: Start anywhere. Go where you need to go and if you want to find out something new, go someplace new.
Instead of printing a lot of web addresses here, I encourage you to go to the Journal online where you will find live links to every single name mentioned in this article that has a web page. The Journal's well-organized website is the perfect place for an extended conversation on this subject.
How are you using the web? Does it pay? What are some other great art resource sites? Where do you go to get news of the greater art world? What have you found to be exceptional and/or funny? Let's share the journey and get a conversation going in the comments.
Let me leave with your "Moment of Zen"
OK, feet on the beat. After taking January off, Saturday, Feb. 5, is the first 2011 Arts Alive! for Eureka. Among the high points: the eagerly awaited show at Piante Gallery of new works by Donna Blakely paired with Daniel Franchon. (Piante's website is under construction.)
Lush Newton and David White have transformed First Street Gallery into a "Back Room," which they invite/dare you to step into. This extensive installation using recycled and found materials will evolve over the run of the show (until March 6). In other words, you'll need a return visit to really experience what it's all about.
The First Street show warrants a repeat viewing, as does any show of the caliber of Dona Blakely's. The current photography exhibit at Morris Graves from the premier Humboldt Group Collection (Walker Evans, Dorthea Lang, Edward Steichen, Ansel Adams, wow!) requires a second look. Humboldt Group Collection curator David Swisher will discuss the works in the show and answer questions on Saturday, Feb. 26, at 1 p.m.
I urge anyone who seriously values the art experience to return to the galleries and shops that have taken great pains to display their invited artists, at least once more during the month. Or continue where you may have left off on your rounds during Arts Alive!