This weekend, as the heat continued to rise in Phoenix, Carrie and I made a much-needed escape from the gallery (and our children!) to the Arizona Mountain town, Prescott. We were overdue for a getaway, and a recent invitation from Dave and Donna Newman to attend their 2nd annual studio music jam was a great excuse.
Carrie and I went up on Friday and spent the weekend hiking, shopping, movie watching and relaxing – all favorite pass-times. Sunday night we drove out to Dave and Donna’s home and studio for the party. The party was attended by artist and social friends of the Newmans, collectors of Dave’s art, and, of course, gallery owners.
Dave does a lot of artwork around guitars and rock ‘n roll, and he also customizes guitars for Fender. He is an avid music enthusiast, attending numerous concerts every year, sometimes travelling days to attend. Through the course of his travels and art he has made many friends of musicians, and so the studio jam is an opportunity for the musicians to get together and rock out while everyone else enjoys the music and mingles.
The vibe was great and Carrie and I loved meeting Dave and Donna’s friends and the evening was a huge success from our perspective.
While I can only imagine the tremendous work and energy that goes into putting the party together, I observed many things that the Newmans did to pull it off successfully.
1. The event was obviously well-planned. The invitations went out about a month in advance – important for an event being held on a holiday weekend. Refreshments were well organized and kept everyone grazing all evening.
2. Dave and Donna circulated extensively during the party introducing guests to one another and making sure that there weren’t any wall-flowers. By mid-evening the party had picked up a lot of momentum, but Dave and Donna got it off on the right foot by getting conversations started.
3. The party ran early. The event was scheduled from 5:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m., and this seemed perfect for their audience. I wouldn’t want to guess the average age of those in attendance, but let’s just say that none of us is as young as we used to be. Maybe the twenty-something crowd has the energy to party into the wee hours of the morning, but the fine art crowd seems more suited to an early departure (I like to think it’s because we all have something important to get started in the morning).
4. The event was casual. The food was great and it was simple – chips and salsa, vegetables, candies and watermelon. The Newman’s provided simple sandwich makings mid way through the evening, and then dessert. You didn’t have to worry about being underdressed, and everyone seemed comfortable.
5. No one was trying to sell anything. While attendees at the party got some great exposure to Dave’s work in the studio and the house, the focus wasn’t on the art for the evening. Dave and Donna weren’t covertly trying to direct the conversation back to art, or showing off new pieces. What they were doing, however, was creating a tremendous amount of goodwill and friendship.
Carrie and I hope to turn the weekend into an annual tradition (if we’re invited back . . .)
Have you held studio parties before? What were the results? What worked and what didn’t? Share your thoughts below in the comments.