“A Star Is Born”
Image and Essay by Janet Grace Riehl
This is my 70th Creative Catalyst post since 2008. During that time so much has happened to me personally and in my creative life. Whether I’ve written about Daddy Care or Doodling you’ve responded and shared your lives right back. How appropriate, then, to tell you now about the culmination of artwork I began in 2011. All those doodles became a beautiful exhibit. Through Women & Wardrobe: The Riehl Collection I claimed them as digital images—fine art. And, the opening of the show opened me.
In all the arts—literary, visual, performing—there is that moment where the art becomes public. There is so much creativity advice about how to inspire, coax and sustain our practice. But, there is little that I know of to help us move through and use the opportunity of shaping and showing our work for an audience.
A mentor once told me that “Your show is really for you. It shows you what you’ve been doing. It’s a time to take it in so that you can use what you’ve done as inspiration to go forward.” With all creative work it’s like that. In studio art made of paint or clay it’s even more striking to see your work altogether in a clean space.
Three equations expressed this protected time.
Work = Play
Play = Work
Work + Play = Joy
In making the body of work, it worked because:
1) I had no ambition beyond making each image work on its own terms.
2) I let my images do the talking.
3) I taught myself (and taught myself how to teach myself) as I went.
4) I surrendered, and entered a state of easy-going exploration.
Every event has its challenges, and this one was no exception. My framer became sick unto death and I had to find a new one—while on holiday 2,000 miles from St. Louis in Northern California off the grid. “Set up a fashion show? In a month!” the head of the design department of a nearby college wailed when I asked if they’d participate. But, I urged them to continually redefine what a fashion show is, and they hit on a perfect orchestration that blended with and augmented the artwork to make the night even more fun.
Jump cut to opening night—a rousing success! Both on the outside and the inside. On the outside, it was everything any artist could wish, pray, and hope for:
- Lots of people came. 100?
- Lots of people bought art. We raised a goodly sum to benefit Portfolio Gallery (all the profits went to the gallery).
- Everyone (including me) had a good time!
- People didn’t only raise their glasses and chat. They actually looked at the work and appreciated it.
And for me, on the inside? My opening was an opening of me. An opening of my heart and soul. There was so much love that allowed the work to happen. To be asked to show. To have a friend who took on all the technical work. To be on TV. To experience the hilarity of 15 minutes of fame. To have my family and friends come. To have the joy of giving to Portfolio. To have the joy of seeing my work apart from my phone or Facebook transformed into elegantly framed images. The joy of people loving the work. Validating. Affirming. Filled with possibility and a sense of rightness.
Want to read more Creative Catalyst posts about this latest art journey?
In June 2012 I described the wonderful surprise of visual art coming back into my life through “Doodling a Body of Work.”https://storycirclenetwork.wordpress.com/2012/06/12/doodling-a-body-of-work
In July 2014 I shared my happiness at my upcoming exhibit with “Bliss + Work = Results! Case study: Women & Wardrobe: The Riehl Collection.”
Learn more about Janet Riehl’s work on her blog magazine Riehl Life: Village Wisdom for the 21st Century (www.riehlife.com). With the mission to create connections through the arts and across cultures.