Most would agree that conceptualizing, executing and completing a work of art is a formidable task. But for many artists and crafters, it’s minor when compared to the feats of marketing and getting their wares before the eyes of potential buyers.
Two new spaces in the east Valley aim to ease those burdens.
“I have some people who start with no business name or business card,” said Patty Leon, owner of Green Table Gifts, which provides space to local artists and crafters for a small rental fee and commission.
Each artist is also provided additional display elements, such as one of Leon’s vintage doors or pieces of furniture, which the artist can use as a backdrop for signage, shelving and literature.
“I tell our artists that it’s their mini store within a store,” said Leon. “It really starts taking them to the next level.”
Leon’s store also provides a space for the artists to offer classes on everything from soldering to scrapbooking. “They have lots of different elements to be able to grow their business and get their name out there,” said Leon.
Those interested must submit pieces of art, décor or jewelry, which then go through a juried selection process.
“We consider what’s going to be popular and how quickly they can make the items. If it takes months, they might not be able to keep up with demand,” said Leon.
“We also look at what their involvement is going to be in marketing, talking about it, and hitting the pavement and sharing it,” said Leon.
“We have a kind of co-op spirit. It’s not the kind of place that they can just sign and forget about their items for months at a time.”
Most artists sign up for a six-month contract. Spaces become available about once a month and, according to Leon, they usually go quickly.
Whether artists are selected also depends on the amount of space their pieces require. The shop tries to avoid the cluttered feel of many antique and vintage shops, said Leon. “We try to make it open and easy to spend time in.”
All of the stuff in Green Table is both local and either hand-made or vintage, which is proving popular with the larger community.
Leon started with seven vendors. “I thought ‘hot diggity dog’—we’re doing good.” But six months later she was ready to double the size and moved to her current, bigger location. And she’s already at capacity with nearly 50 artists.
She attributes the business’ success to a willingess to go with the flow and to never say no. “When someone comes with a custom request, we try really hard to find an artist who can fill it, or I try to figure it out myself,” said Leon.
Green Table is also one of only two stores in Arizona selected to carry Annie Sloan paint, a chalk-based product that can be applied to nearly any surface, including metal, vinyl, leather, concrete and finished or unfinished wood.
Across town, Montage Art Studio on Mill provides inexpensive display and 24-hour accessible work space for artists.
Downtown Tempe resident and artist Kate Foreman wanted an art space on Mill Avenue that appealed to the visual arts and so began talks with Downtown Tempe Community Inc., a nonprofit devoted to improvement of the Mill Avenue District.
“She also needed a space to work, a challenge for many artists,” said John Gleason, studio manager and member artist.
The gallery space, which resides in the Centerpoint on Mill building, was eventually donated by DMB Commercial, and it opened in November 2011.
“It’s a really beautiful, generous opportunity that they’ve offered me not only as an artist but as a resident of the east Valley and Metro Phoenix,” said Gleason, who himself has been a working artist for 20 years.
Artists pay a rental fee of $100-$275 a month, which is enough to cover the overhead costs to keep the building open. They must also commit to on-site volunteer hours and are encouraged to use the space to create as well.
“It’s an interesting work experience,” said Gleason. “When given the opportunity to talk with people and hear their questions, so much of that encompasses who you become as an artist and promotes a little bit of growth, too.”
While Gleason, who describes himself as a social creature, appreciates the break from long hours alone in a private studio, he admits that working in an open gallery space “isn’t everybody’s cup of tea. Some artists really require solitude.”
There are currently eight member artists, and space is still available. Montage also features six to eight rotating Arizona artists, who have a consignment relationship with the gallery.
To apply, artists must submit 10 -15 slides or photographs of works they have done in the last year to 18 months, a biography and resume. Work is then judged by an independent jury. Leases are typically for six months or a year.
Aside from the artists, the public seems to appreciate the new use of this space as well. People who work in Mill Avenue’s business community often stop in. “A couple of them have said, ‘It’s so nice to be able to come in, relax, take a breath and get out of the harried mindset I’m in as I go about my day,’” said Gleason.
The studio also provides numerous low-cost classes and events for both adults and youth. It recently hosted “Paint Out Tempe,” a contest in which artists had six hours to paint a canvas. The winner received a solo exhibition in one of the gallery spaces.
Future plans include renting the space for parties, fundraising and corporate events.
For more information on hours, current artists and upcoming classes and events:
Green Table Gifts, www.gtgifts.com , 3401 W. Frye Road #13, Chandler;
Montage Art Studio on Mill, www.downtwontempe.com/montage , 740 S. Mill Ave., Tempe.