Not Knowing Who Dale Chihuly Was, Kept Me On My Path
I learned knitting from my child’s kindergarten teacher, and after dying my own wool and trying out natural dyes, I became inspired to knit sterling wire instead of yarn. I had also been playing with semi-precious stones for jewelry, and one day incorporated them into a knit necklace.
Each one took on a different look given the stones used, and soon they acquired one of a kind names which I labeled on silver tags and fixed to each piece.
I gently laid them on the velvet interior of a large black jewelry box, shut the lid with a snap, and dressed in my best “Cool Artist” clothes, complete with vintage 1950’s men’s tan suede Field and Stream jacket I had bought in an antique store with a funeral program in the right pocket. Kind of creepy, but the jacket was so cool.
Pulling up to a gallery I had taken ceramic classes at as a child, I walked in with false confidence and approached the from desk stating that I had some sterling jewelry pieces that I would to have considered to show there.
“Hold on a minute” Duncan, the bearded young man told me as he closed the box.
“I think we have five people here, and that’s enough for a jury.” I shut up, not knowing what a “jury” was, and patiently waited as four people came walking up the stairs and examined my work.
Within minutes, the four filed back down the open air wide wood stairs and Duncan turned to me saying that I was “probably juried in.”
Was it the coat? Was it the jewelry? Was it the bravado to enter a world that scared and excited me?
Probably not, yes, and yes!
I’m sure they didn’t get how absolutely cool that coat made me feel, and yes they liked my work, but more important, was the fact that they wouldn’t have seen it if I hadn’t had the guts to walk in that day.
That evening I got a call that I had indeed been “juried in” and I called my father to let him know.
A few days later, I got a voicemail from my father’s friend who was, and is, quite the art lover in town.
“Congratulations! Oh my god, that’s fantastic! You got into the same gallery that Dale Chihuly, the Seattle glass artist, is represented by. Good job, I’m proud of you!
I kept that voicemail for a couple years, it was a ray of light when I needed one.
The huge lesson I got that day was that I followed my heart and humbly went where I wanted to be represented. I looked directly at it. I did not look to the side. I did not look at who else was represented there. I did not “shop around” my work. I pursued my own path with intuition and grace.