How is it that on a Monday I have rolled out of bed, achy, exhausted and worn out yet smiling from ear to ear; invigorated and fueled with excitement?
I blame the best weekend ever.
I don't usually make a huge deal of my birthday, however, this year I decided, back in January upon moving into my new art studio, that I would like to celebrate it by throwing myself a Grand Opening. Some dear long time friends from all over the country made travel arrangements to join us for the occasion. It was a plan.
In the interim, we juried 5 artists into our studio complex. With over half the available studios occupied it the event took a life of its own and it made perfect sense to plan for a Studios @ 5663 Grand Opening. And so we did.
We worked hard at promoting the event. Our director of Cultural Affairs, Debra Rose and I gave many a tour of the studios and developing Pinellas Arts Village. Our studio artists spread the word and so did their friends and their friends' friends and so on. We did television and newspaper interviews. We spread invitations around town and blasted the news on social media. But as anyone with any experience planning an art opening or event knows, there is no guarantee when it comes to attendance.
Because nothing I ever do ever seems to go off without some sort of glitch, I arrived at the studios Saturday afternoon in time to let the caterers in to discover our building had no electric power.
Don't panic, John. Don't panic.
The electric company predicted the issue would be resolved by 6:30pm. Our event was to begin at 6:00pm, of course. I watched nervously as early arrivals began to gather outside of our doors. Not only did we have no lights with which to SEE the art, it was now beginning to warm up inside. We are in Florida, after all.
As 6 o'clock struck, we had no choice but to open up and apologetically welcome guests into the building. "There is electricity next door, so if you'd like to check out their collection first and then come back...we will have live music as well...he he." People seemed undaunted by the conditions at hand. They had heard the buzz about our little growing artist village and wanted to be a part of it. It isn't every day you see visitors so determined to see art that they provide their own lighting. This was the case, exactly, as person after person switched their cell phones to "flashlight" and began illuminating our walls. This community seemed ready to receive what we came to offer.
The final outcome of the Studios @ 5663 Grand Opening exceeded every expectation and hope I had. My night was officially made when word reached me that our parking lot was full and people were having to park on side streets. What?? We had a full and happy-to-be-there house! The positivity was palpable. Visitors spent time with the art and engaged with the artists. They are invested in what is here and what is still to come. That is all the validation and assurance that we are moving in the right direction we need.
I want to thank my fellow Studios @ 5663 artists Kim Alderman, Bob Canning, Linda Costa-Cheranichit, Loy Khambay-Correa and Isis Navarro as well as Debra Rose, Directors of Cultural Affairs for the city of Pinellas Park for all of their hard work and support. It is invigorating and empowering, sharing common visions and goals for the Pinellas Arts Village. I would also like to thank the city and community who have rallied behind us. The Pinellas Arts Village and creative district is an investment from which we assure you will see many returns.