One of the very first art jobs I ever had was as a gallery assistant at Spaces Gallery in Cleveland, Ohio.  I was only 19 years old, it paid a small handful of dollars an hour — but I seriously felt like I won the jackpot!

Not only did I get to be around real working artists all the time, but this job taught me so many incredible skills.

I was happy as a kid in a candy store to serve coffee and change the slide carousel as the board reviewed artist applications as they curated the shows for the following year.  Talk about getting an inside scoop! I would have taken that job for free in the first place, to have an opportunity like that!

Then every few weeks I’d slip on white gloves and handle and hang art work.  The artists and gallery associates taught me how to really look at art — how to notice the threads that tie the pieces together and how their actual placement enhance or obscure a narrative for the viewer.  I loved this part of the job actually.  And as I got more experienced at it, the director gave me more say on how and where the art should be displayed. Honestly, even though I don’t hang work on pristine walls anymore — I use these skills daily in my art own work and as a teacher helping my students make connections too.

I also learned so much on how to actually work with artists by being a gallery assistant.  My directors modeled when and how to soothe a wounded ego, what was needed to create meaningful partnerships, and even powerful ways to prod and challenge artists to help them fully embrace their potential.

But what was real gold is the first hand look I received at the sweat, tears, and time that went in to running a not-for-profit art gallery.  Ever day was a new adventure from learning how to fix a toilet, repair an elevator door, put up dry wall, hang banners off the side of the building, create a pretty fruit tray for an art opening, untangle shipping issues, delegate wisely to eager volunteers, write grants, and even deal with a publicity scandal from time-to-time.

Though, now over 20 years later, I can confidently say that what I gained the most from my three years at Spaces was a deep love for artists and the community we create.  Spaces mission at the time was to provide emerging artists with a place to be seen and to gather and share ideas.  I feel that being in this environment during such an influential time of my own development as an artist set the whole foundation for the work I do today.

Gosh, I am in tears just writing this.

My gratitude runs so deep for this windy artist path I’ve been on.

And most of all I’m so blessed to have had such talented and caring mentors in my life.  So blessed.  And that in itself is why I too am dedicated to sharing the same blessing with other artists needing guidance and support. 

But today is really a special day for me.

It is a big part of my dream to own both a studio and a gallery when I move to Costa Rica next year.  I have been able to see it, smell it, and feel it in my heart for years now.  Last November when I was in Costa Rica I walked around listening and watching for signs — hoping maybe it would wave to me or reveal just a snippet of where it is.  So I could see it for real.

I’m so serious about this dream even that over the last few years I’ve sincerely invited many artists I admire to come teach there as well (and everyone’s said yes so far!!)

But most of all, every single day, as I pick up my own paintbrush, I sing to this sweet space that I know is waiting for me — for my students — for other artists — for community to gather in, to learn in, to grow in, to create an entirely new world in.

So what I am about to share with you today is just a seed that I am watering.  A seed that was planted decades ago as I sported overalls and worked late nights at Spaces gallery. A seed that come next Friday will no longer be a seed, but rather a sprout.

On Friday, July 21st I will be opening my first virtual gallery here at Dirty Footprints Studio.  It will contain the body of work I created in January as I hosted my two Paint FEARLESS Mexico retreats.  I call this body of work simply: Oaxaca.

I know that adding a virtual gallery to a website in itself is not that groundbreaking of an idea or thing to do.  But for me,  it’s symbolic more than anything.

This virtual gallery marks a new commitment to offering my art into the world in a fresh way.  Ever since my Spaces day I sold my paintings pretty consistently. But a few years ago, in 2010 when I quit my job to pour my love fully into Dirty Footprints Studio, I intentionally stopped my effort to sell my work so I could be more present to my process and creating workshops based around it.

But since 2010 my relationship with my art has shifted considerably as well and I now feel very called to bring my art into the hands, hearts, and homes of other creative Souls more prominently.

So as my mentors back at Spaces taught me  — you don’t put art in a gallery without throwing a damn good party as well!

So you dear friends are warmly invited to my very first virtual art opening here at Dirty Footprints Studio at 4pm PST / 7pm EST on Friday, July 21st — and it’s totally FREE!

At this virtual art opening you’ll have the chance to scroll through the beautiful gallery.  Plus I’ll be chatting about my process behind my Oaxaca paintings, taking time for a little Q&A, and giving away one Oaxaca painting to a very lucky attendee! Plus there will be other goodies — but I’m keeping them a secret for now!

We will meet on a webinar platform where I will be on video and you can use the chat box to communicate and share!! It’s going to be tons of fun!

Plus, don’t worry if you can’t make it — you can always watch the recording later!

All you need to do is register using the button below!

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Connie Solera
connie@dirtyfootprints-studio.com