Open Studio June 2014 Review

Inside the Open Studio Tsunami

Written by Nolan Stevens

“...What people don’t understand about Open Studio is that it’s about seeing the progression of the artists here, and not a case of just coming around once to an Open Studio and thinking you’ve seen one and you’ve seen them all...” Bev Butkow; a resident studio artist at Assemblage was completely spot on with this one. She’d not only given me food for thought but a subject for my first piece.

The Open Studio having blown through like an artsy tsunami. Is far more than the public sees and experiences - Beyond the bacchanalian celebration of mingling, pizza, wine, music and of course art are the weeks of preparation and planning by both the resident artists as well as the studio staff.

Having experienced both sides of the Open Studio coin, I have experienced both the glee of a visitor, and the anticipation of being one of the many cogs in the Assemblage machine. Each is a completely different experience.

Open Studio from the perspective of a visitor is a high-fiving, knuckle-bumping, hug donating blurred montage of music, smiling faces and pretty pieces of art.  It’s a evening where you’d probably take part in one of several deep conversations about everything from the a resident artists inspiration to why the vibe seems to go so well with the art on show”.  Throw into the mix a conversation about the meaning of life, and a chance meeting with a long lost friend and you’ll have just about all the ingredients of an Open Studio visit. Give or take a million more memories.

On the flip side of that coin your experience of an Open Studio has a few noticeable differences when you’re on the inside:  Most notably, the party vibe is a lot more controlled if you’re one of the artists hoping to sell a piece or two, or make a worthwhile impression on a visitor.  Being one of these artists, I would imagine means being able to flirt with notions of being the stereotypical bohemian carefree artist whilst maintaining a professional air about things. For these studio artists the preparation for this one evening starts months before. There’s the making of new works to make sure that the regulars have fresh eye candy to feast their eyes and minds on. For them it means organising the organised chaos that are their studio spaces and hanging up works in these space to entice visitors inside.

For the small group of staff members at Assemblage preparation starts even earlier. The planning of this event includes making sure that sponsors like PRIMI Piatti are on board when the event happens. It includes coming up with interesting ways of using social media: Such as the “Pizza Selfie Competition” which encouraged studio visitors to take selfies while munching on PRIMI’s sponsored pizza. This time around a jazz musician (Mauritz “Mo” Muller), and DJ (DJ Deed Darkly) where invited to perform as an aside to the art.

When next that evening of high-fives, knuckle-bumping, hugs, deep conversations, munching, gulping, smiles, and art appreciation comes around again, here’s hoping that you’ll join the tsunami that is an Assemblage Open Studio - This time, with a bit more insight on what goes on behind the scenes.