Saturday, June 09, 2018

Too many open workshop cancellations

First, let me say that I’m a relatively new Palette and Chisel member and one of the main reasons I joined is for the open studio time.

The number of advertised (and yes it is often promoted as “Palette and Chisel has over 60 hours of open studios a week!”) open studio hours is the primary reason for my membership and my guess is that’s true for many members. It’s through the open studios that we meet and interact with each other. It’s in this environment that we learn from, receive inspiration (perhaps even give it), make friends, and practice our art.

Palette and Chisel offers classes and workshops as well and I’ve taken several classes in the short time that I’ve been here. Classes don’t require membership though and being a member does not affect the price of the classes members take.

Recent workshop announcements, however, have made it appear that our leadership values the experience of workshop attendees above those of its members. The workshops almost always use the third floor studio and cause either the displacement or cancellation of open studio sessions.

A summary of open studio cancellations from the beginning of April through June 10th shows that 60 hours of open studio will have been cancelled during that time frame in favor of workshops.

A few days ago, an email announced that there will be a 4 week long workshop by Clayton Beck that will cause displacement, studio time decreases, and/or cancellations of open studio for a month. Being new, I was shocked and dismayed. I’ve grown accustomed to attending open studio on a regular schedule and I’ve been looking forward to attending during the summer where I don’t have to freeze on my way to  the building.

As I said, I was dismayed when I saw the email announcement. I couldn’t understand why Palette and Chisel would schedule something so disruptive to not only my schedule, but for the schedules of all the members who are regular attendees of the studio. When I looked at the website and realized that Clayton is not simply a member, but a member of the board, it looked suspicious. First, let me say I have nothing against Clayton. But it certainly appeared to me that the reason this workshop was allowed to be scheduled was due to Clayton’s role on the board. I contacted Bill by email and he replied that this had nothing to do with it. That may be the case, but there’s a saying that “Perception is reality”. This basically means that if you are perceived to be something, you might as well be it because that's the truth in people's minds.

In other words, although the board may not intend that the decision to schedule Clayton’s four week workshop interfering with open studio is due to his position on the board, the perception, at least in my eyes, is that that’s the reason, so it’s true.

After emailing with Bill regarding the Clayton workshop, it appears that a number of open studios will be moved and shortened during that time frame (messing up everyone’s accustomed schedule) with a net loss of 9 open studio hours per week.

This workshop issue got me thinking…

Does Palette and Chisel survey its members to find out what’s important to them? If not, I believe it’s important for it to do this on a regular basis. The survey results should then be used by the board to guide decisions.

Some possible questions on the survey:

● Do you agree with the decision to cancel, rearrange and shorten open studio sessions to accommodate workshops?
● Are there currently any issues with existing open studio sessions?
● What would you do to improve open studio sessions?
● What amenities would you like to see that currently don’t exist?
● What types of shows would you like to see in the galleries that don’t currently occur?
● What (low cost) ideas do you have to increase the usefulness of Palette and Chisel for its members.
● Would you prefer that Palette and Chisel provision another space for workshops? One thought is to use some of the air rights money to install plumbing in the dining room so that the space could be dedicated to workshop use. This way more workshops could be scheduled and they would not interrupt open studio sessions.

We’re all members and I hope that all of our voices can be heard.

I’m interested to hear your thoughts on this subject. Either comment on this blog or send me email with the subject “Palette and Chisel” to




Blogger chris miller said...

After two weeks, no one has yet commented on these observations and suggestions, so
let me be the first.

The art educational mission of the Palette and Chisel is equally served by offering either open workshops or instructed classes. It’s good that we have sufficient interest in both to make conflicts of this kind possible.

It’s good that we have a distinguished observational painter like Clayton Beck teaching classes (he’s been teaching here for thirty years), and it’s good that we have new members who want to do more painting from live models.

The best solution would be to create more workshop studio space somewhere. We can now afford to do so. --- so why don’t we?

It's time for our officers and board of directors to move into action.

June 21, 2018  

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