Monticello Road is a community arts project in Charlottesville, Virginia. Through photography and a series of public events and conversations, we explore how an art can be an essential, integral and everyday part of a healthy community.

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Friday, March 11, 2011

Changing Spaces

A more rational division of display versus work space is more conducive to mental clarity and creativity.

The other night, a friend of mine was criticizing my studio set-up for being too much of a workshop and not the type of place that makes someone want to buy art. The best work was relegated to corners and the new projects (such as Monticello Road), which I had presented front-and-center, are not yet to a stage of realization where commerce can come into play.

I try not to give too much credence to unsolicited feedback, even (or especially) from my friends, but I couldn’t easily dismiss her logic. A little reorganization could both highlight what I’m currently working on and put my finished work in a far better light. Spring is a time to freshen things up and my time had come.

As I write this, I’m in the process of reorganizing my studio with an emphasis on visual logic. One clean wall has museum-quality work. A second big wall has affordable art, presented in a friendly manner. My largest wall, which is next to my desk, flat file and worktable has new stuff hung with thumbtacks so I can easily move it around—or out. The place looks better, but there is also more clarity about where I’ve been, where I’m going and how it fits together. It works better and is more conducive to creative thinking.

On a separate track that I now see is related, Meredith and I have been itching to transform our living space as well. We knew the house would need some changes when we bought it but we wanted to live in awhile to really get to know the place first. It seems that we’re ready for a change, even if we still don’t know what we want.

To that end we’ve brought a series of architects through our home to get estimates and we’ve gained a lot just by listening to them. Frankly, many of their best—and in retrospect most obvious—ideas are things we’d never considered. One of the coolest things we learned is that we could make some impactful changes without spending a lot of money: punching through a wall or judiciously enlarging a window, for example. Many ideas that we love will require cash that we do not yet possess and will have to wait.

For now, we’re going to use some of our tax refund to retain one of the firms to create a set of detailed measurements and drawings of what we have and provide a few scenarios, ranging from simple to elaborate. Then we’ll get to work on the pieces we can manage and have a direction forward.

We are products of our surroundings and the spaces where we live and work are more easily transformed than we might expect. When we enliven our environment, we inject new energy into our lives. It’s a process that is easily neglected but so important for living a creative, fulfilling life.

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