When we moved to South Philly in 2011, we were lucky to stumble across two groups that provided us with both art inspiration and a wonderful circle of friends.
The first, as you’ve probably guessed, was the Philadelphia Dumpster Divers, that inspired group of found-object artists whose homes and studios we profile on our Unexpected Philadelphia website. (And, yes, there are more Diver home tours coming, including — when we finally get around to it — our own.)
“Tracy Takes Another Chance on Love” – Kate’s found-object commentary on the pre-Dave dating scene. Hmm — Should I take the “not quite divorced” guy for 50 points, my cousin’s ex-fiance for a family-wrecking 30 points, or “Mr. 93%-Right” for 100 points?
Philadelphia mosaic artist Isaiah Zagar introduced us to the free-spirited Dumpster Divers, but his sister — dancer and choreographer Sheila Zagar — introduced Kate to its complementary and indispensable opposite: the Artist Conference Network.
Kate’s “Maryellen Plans Her Day” – because sometimes you just need to shake things up a little…
ARTIST CONFERENCE WHAT??
Founded in California in 1983 by painter and art professor Beverly Cassell, the Artist Conference Network (ACN) is the somewhat unpoetic name for a nationwide coalition of artists, performers and writers who meet in local groups to set personal creative goals and encourage each other in their work.
Philadelphia filmmaker, painter, mosaic artist, sculptor and writer Lynn Denton with her “Schell Street Cosmos” mosaic. Lynn founded Philly’s ACN chapter in 1994.
Two more examples of Lynn’s prolific output: “Throne Rug Study”, a 2016 canvas, and a still from “Clair-Obscur: A Film Performance” at the 2000 Philadelphia Festival of World Cinema.
DEFINING YOUR DREAMS
ACN members set annual and quarterly creative goals, and coach with a fellow member by phone each week to review progress, identify obstacles and breakthroughs, and set goals for the coming week.
We also hold meetings every other Thursday in members’ homes to share work in a non-competitive, non-judgmental atmosphere that recognizes each member as the sole authority on their creative journey.
Two recent works by ACN member Chris Sheerin, a graduate of the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts and the Philadelphia High School for Creative and Performing Arts.
ABOUT OUR MEMBERS
Our Philadelphia group annually accepts between 12 and 15 members, who commit themselves for a year each March. Recent members have included painters, photographers, writers, bloggers, poets, a singer and song-writer, a dancer, a filmmaker and sculptor, a fiber and indigo dye artist, a collage artist, and a found-object and bead jewelry artist.
Some, like Lynn Denton and Chris Sheerin above, have formal art training. Others, like Kate, are self-taught or hone their skills through workshops.
All of us are committed to helping ourselves — and our fellow members — expand our creative potential.
“DNA” (graphite on paper) and “Portals” (oil on canvas) by mixed-media visionary artist, art and design professor, and ACN member Rebekah Higgins.
Members are encouraged to set measurable goals that will really stretch them, but have no fear: The group will applaud your efforts whether you reach your goals or not — or whether you decide to pursue a completely different and better dream mid-year.
Kate’s ACN goals have motivated her (and Dave, her non-ACN co-conspirator) to establish our Unexpected Philadelphia website, design a Fringe Festival performance, create our holiday window and “flip the script” voting projects, update the outside of our house with quotes and painted blocks, and even lose 10 pounds. (And, yes, that last goal was definitely Kate’s — our guy Dave barely casts a shadow.)
A photographer, travel blogger, and former executive vice president of the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society, Blaine Bonham captures the essence of people, urban and natural landscapes — and his own back yard.
WANT TO LEARN MORE?
Interested in exploring whether ACN can help you kick-start your creative goals?
Call Blaine Bonham at 215-280-4651. Blaine can also tell you about our Thursday, March 2 meeting, where you can join us as we share work and celebrate the completion of our winter goals.
Hope to see you there!