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A Roomful of Friends: Quotes from 2014 Visual Edge Program Graduates

Gayle Tice

Freelance Writer, https://www.linkedin.com/in/GayleTice

Gayle Tice

On the evening of July 15th I had the pleasure of experiencing the opening night of an exhibit of 2014 Artist Trust Visual Edge Program graduates. A variety of two and three dimensional works were included in the exhibit by artists Francie Allen, Alex Bennett, Peter Carlson, Celeste Cooning, Katie Creyts, Susan Derrick, Sheila Evans, Peggy Foy, Louise Hankes, Shari Kaufman, Melissa Koch, Cheri Kopp, Sherry Loeser, John Webster and Anita West.

All of these artists had participated together in a week long training and retreat covering the business of being an artist, called the EDGE Professional Development Program for Artists.

The exhibit was splendidly laid out in the basement of Galvanize, a tech-industry entrepreneurial/educational space near Pioneer Square. Pieces were displayed against a backdrop of bright white, gray, cream, and (my very favorite) irregular red brick walls. My overall impression was that each and every piece was placed just where it ought to have been, with attention paid to the colors and textures of the varied space.

This event was made possible by the bond formed between the members of this Artist Trust EDGE program cohort, who were able to put together their show in a mere two weeks. Many of the artists in the room expressed appreciation for having done the EDGE program with each other.

The artists opinions of the EDGE program ranged from fabulous to ecstatic, with photographer Sherry Loeser saying she would “marry the EDGE program if it were legal,” and continuing on to explain that she had sixteen years of commercial art experience but was still “blown away by the fine art side of things” that she learned through the program.

The most cited reason for joining the EDGE program was to be with a community of artists.

Metalsmith Peggy Foy said “what I liked about the EDGE program was the community of artists, and I learned as much from them as the programming.” She also cited increased confidence saying, as if to a fellow artist, “your work is good enough, and so put yourself out there because your work is good enough.”

There are so many wonderful chances to view the work of those who have put themselves out there. The public benefits greatly from the increased confidence of artists.Anita West, whose pen and ink drawings were exhibited, said “it (the EDGE program) was super fabulous, really hard work; I made a lot of good friends.”

Some artists spoke of the hard work, money, and time involved in participating in the Edge program.

Cut paper (or Tyvek as the case was with the work she exhibited) artist Celeste Cooning may not have been financially able to attend the Edge program if not for the Pratt Seattle/ArtBridge Fellowship, an Artist Trust partnership. She is grateful for the community of arts organizations that work together to provide opportunities for artists. 

“It’s been really wonderful,” Cooning says, “like a new creative family.”

Impasto painter Susanne Derrick said her art career has really taken off since doing the EDGE program, saying she gained “confidence and clarity in talking about what I do and why I do it.” She also shared her fellow artist’s appreciation for the lasting friendships she formed, and added that she appreciates that Artist Trust brought together artists of a variety of disciplines and ages.

Acrylic Painter Louise Hankes summed things up best when she said that, “Artist Trust has been really supportive to us.”