Artists talking to artists

The inaugural Clatsop County Arts Summit will cover everything from lease-to-own art to copyright law

We bought our first “major” piece of art from a little gallery in Belize. It was an oil of a favorite stretch of beach where the hubs and I had taken to spending a few weeks every winter. It was a large painting, and we decided it would go over our bed in place of a headboard. Carefully, carefully, we packed the canvas home, then dropped it at the local frame shop to be mounted. Home, we headed to the bedroom to hang the piece, eager for this finishing touch that would complete our master bedroom.

“It’s too big,” my husband announced.

I looked on from the foot of the bed, nodding grimly. What the hell had we been thinking?

Fortunately, there were a few other spaces it would fit, and the painting found a home on our living room wall. But the lesson hasn’t left me, and now as I ponder a piece that we recently fell for, I can’t escape the doubts. What if?

Astoria artist Dave Ambrose will talk about how artists can use a lease-to-own program to get art into the hand of would-be customers during the Clatsop County Arts Summit next month. Photo courtesy: Dave Ambrose
During the Clatsop County Arts Summit next month, Astoria artist Dave Ambrose will talk about how artists can use a lease-to-own program to get art into the hands of would-be customers. Photo courtesy: Dave Ambrose

It’s a vibe Astoria artist Dave Ambrose picks up on all the time as would-be buyers peruse his work, wondering, will it or won’t work in my house? So Ambrose created his own lease-to-own program. He’ll share his tips on making that work next month at The Business of Art: Artists Teaching Artists, the inaugural Arts Summit hosted by the Arts Council of Clatsop County. The summit is designed both to promote arts in the county and to provide workshops and discussions to “educate, empower, and inspire professional artists.” It will run from 1 to 5 p.m. Nov. 12 in the Seaside Civic and Convention Center. Admission is free.

“Art is so subjective,” Ambrose said. “When people come to visit on our studio tour, I can watch them walk around the house and then they stop and look at a painting and they look at it and look at it, and I know they’ve connected. I say, you know you can take it home for $10 a month and see how it looks. I don’t have white walls, and background colors make art look completely different. You have to get it home and look at it. About 50 percent of the time they take it home, come back, and pay me in full.”

“Fiddle” is a self-portrait by Dave Ambrose based on a photo (acrylic, 20 by 30 inches). Photo courtesy: Dave Ambrose
“Fiddle” is a self-portrait by Dave Ambrose based on a photo (acrylic, 20 by 30 inches). Photo courtesy: Dave Ambrose

Ambrose wants to help other artists sell their work, but he also has a personal motive — he’d like to own work from local artists, but often as not he can’t afford to buy it outright.

Seems it could be a win-win for everyone, which is what this first Art Summit is about. There are a lot of creative people on the North Coast, but not a particularly large customer base, especially in the winter months. So about nine months ago, the council began considering how it might help.

“It’s a problem for people who want to be creative and make it worth their while to put a lot of effort into it,” Ambrose said. “We figured out that the skills needed are in the business end.”

One workshop is aimed at teaching artists how to present their work to gallery owners; another on marketing or “business outside of the box.” There will be a talk on copyright laws, and one musician will share her success at giving house concerts.

“It’s artists talking to artists,” Ambrose said. “Hopefully, people will interact with each other. It’s our first effort, so it’s kind of a stab in the dark. Our county has three main areas: Astoria, Seaside, and Cannon Beach. They all have arts communities, but don’t really connect a lot. We’re trying to interconnect people.”

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