the working artist

Your work is your responsibility and so is your career.
Crista Cloutier


Last week Crista Cloutier launched a Kickstarter campaign for The Working Artist at the cool Bentley Projects, in downtown Phoenix. It was the beginning of what will be for Crista, an intense month of campaigning to raise the funds to make The Working Artist available for all artists anywhere. I want to kick it off with a bang, she said, and a glass of wine!

As I learn about her project I recall when I left a full-time job to become a full-time artist –  I went through numerous business of art books. I watched my husband receive his education and set out in what appeared steady and progressive steps. I watched as he prepared and negotiated terms and salary.  I felt frustrated that there was no clear way I could see to get my work out, on my own. Between grad school notes, reading a number of business of art books and luck, I took some initial steps and met a curator and 2 gallery directors that would help me lay down ground work. I continue to meet people who teach me something I can utilize to keep going.

I understand the value of information. Crista’s workshop catches my attention. I decide to write about it. I have questions and she has answers….

Monica : Why did you launch your campaign here in Phoenix?

Crista : It was important to me to come back to Phoenix to launch my campaign because I knew that I would need a lot of support. This is my community, and no matter how far away I go, each time I return I am reminded that this is my community and these are my people. As I drive through town I see public art projects that I played a small role in, whether it was sitting on a committee or whatever. Years ago, I sat on the first panel that investigated building an arts center in Mesa, and look at it now! I feel a sense of pride in what we, as an arts community, have done by working together. And I think that we take that for granted sometimes because I rarely see such a strong sense of community and cooperation in other places.

I want to continue to be a part of this community here too. I intend to create The Working Artist project in Phoenix and will be traveling back and forth from London to do so. I believe that the talent is here and I trust the people.

M : Tell me about The Artist Workshop. How is it different from other things out there? Tell me a little about your audience and who your work is directed towards –  emerging or a more established artist.

C : I worked extensively in the art business throughout my career before I fled to Europe in order to begin my own creative practice. In my former life, I had worked in nearly every professional role. I collaborated with blue-chip artists as well as the just-emerging, and I sold their work to museums and galleries throughout the world.

I have always worked with artists and I know what their questions are as well as their challenges. And I understand how the art market works. I have tailored The Working Artist to give artists all of the information that they need to take their career to the next level, but in a way that is digestible and that artists can understand. Because when I first began selling art, I read all of those business of art books too. I found them confusing and the information was buried within the text. That’s just not how most artists digest information. It’s got to be visual and its got to be interesting.

M : I see myself as a more established artist here in Phoenix, and though I have exhibited nationally as well as internationally, do you think you have information that I would find useful to get my work out of the area more solidly?

C : I have worked with artists in all stages of their careers, from the daring-to-aspire to the solidly established. For the latter, I believe the questions that I ask are important to re-visit periodically. And I also know that some of our materials can use a bit of spit and polish. We challenge ourselves creatively, why not continue to challenge ourselves professionally as well?


M : How / Why did you create the workshop and why do you want to put it on the internet?

C : The Working Artist is a long-time dream. When I had my own gallery, artists would come in daily asking me to sell their work. No one understands how the art business works and they aren’t teaching this stuff in schools. I actually wrote a book years ago but my agent didn’t think there were enough artists to warrant pursuing it. Little did he know there are millions of artists…

I started teaching the workshop to small groups and then began getting invited all over – England, France, South Africa, Greece. Artists are hungry for this knowledge. But its expensive to fly me out to these places. By putting the program online as a downloadable educational program, any artist anywhere can have access to the information. And so I am running an online crowd funding campaign to raise the funds to do just that. And any artist who donates will be pre-ordering the workshop at a discount. They will also be grandfathered in to future programs and communities that I want to build. The website is

M : When you say art business, what are you talking about : showing/selling artwork, museum connection, galleries/juried exhibitions, trade shows, web site, blogging?

I am talking about all of those things and more. It comes down to getting your work seen. Art is a conversation between artist and viewer so it’s your job, your business if you will, to find an audience. And then to know what to do with that audience once you’ve got them.

M : How much control do you think artist should want in the showing and selling of their work, as opposed to the making of it – where artists want full control?

C : I think that artists should have 100% control of their career. I meet a lot of artists who express a desire for someone to just do it all for them. And I have met many artists who found that someone only to discover that they lost everything, or were represented badly. Your work is your responsibility and so is your career.

There are a lot of great artists out there whose work is not getting seen. Just as there are a lot of mediocre artists whose work is selling out. I believe that the difference lies in taking this responsibility for their business.

…I smile because she’s right, as artists – we have to be right-brained and left-brained creatures . A balance worth striving for, though not always easy.


Kiki Smith, Crista Coutier, Valerie Hammond

M : I saw a photo of you with Kiki Smith and Valerie Hammond, two great women artists. What were you doing with them? And last week I saw you at the monOrchid Arts’ Ball, here in Phoenix. You get around…across oceans, across the country …

C : I have recently curated an exhibition of new work by Kiki Smith and Valerie Hammond. During the course of the conversations about the show and the making of the work, I photographed the process. A book of my images and writings about the project will be released in a few months. But in the meantime, Kiki, Valerie and I have the great luck of following the exhibition as it shows in France, Atlanta, Savannah, and Hong Kong.


M : You’re a visual artist. What is your medium? You write as well don’t you?

C : I am a writer and photographer.

M : You received a mini grant through the Ted Decker Catalyst Fund. What does that support do for you? What did it allow?

C : Ted Decker supported my launch party, in part, with his mini-grant. Not only did that help me financially but Ted’s support gave me a huge sense of pride to belong to that legacy, one that I have admired for years.


Visit → The Working artist and consider supporting it. Each level of contribution offers something in return, it’s a clear win-win. Keep an eye on Crista, she’s got lots more brewing.

More about Crista and her artwork →

click  → 525622_10151291711428479_1302521887_n

*all photos (except Smith, Cloutier and Hammond) are by Crista Cloutier.

when the water came

This week as we mark the 7th anniversary of Hurricane Katrina, I find Rebecca Ross at work organizing a showing of When the Water Came: Evacuees of Hurricane Katrina. Even now as I write the post, current news focuses on the Gulf Coast as it experiences yet another hurricane, this one – Isaac. The timing is important and only adds more relevance to the work.

The exhibit which will run  August 31 – September 16, 2012, at eye lounge offers, in images and words, firsthand accounts that relate the dramatic stories of Hurricane Katrina
evacuees who relocated from Louisiana to Arizona. The photographs and
interview-poems featured in the exhibition are drawn from the book of the
same title by poet Cynthia Hogue and photographer Rebecca Ross.

Deborah Green © 2010
Rebecca Ross Photo

What : When The Water Came: Evacuees of Hurricane Katrina
Who: Interview-Poems by Cynthia Hogue
          Photographs by Rebecca Ross

When : August 31 – September 16, 2012
Artists’ Reception: Friday, September 14, 5 – 9 pm

Where: eye lounge: a contemporary artspace
419 E. Roosevelt St.
Phoenix, AZ 85004
Gallery Hours:
Friday, 5 – 9 p.m.
Saturday, 1 – 5 p.m.
Sunday, 11 a.m. – 3 p.m.
First Friday, 5 – 10 p.m.
and by appointment

The book When the Water Came: Evacuees of Hurricane Katrina is available locally at  Changing Hands Bookstore in Tempe, or through Amazon.

an inside look: phoenix artists…and so much more.

Artist / Designer / Photographer…and those are only three of the hats Anthony Zeh wears these days – man, the guy’s busy!

You may recall I wrote about Tony in February when he invited me to take part in his 100 Artists Portraits project. Last month he showed some of the photographs in the series (at Bokeh). He’ll show 25 more this coming First Friday, in the Onley Gallery, at Trinity Cathedral.

The project aims to educate and celebrate both the history and diversity of our arts community.  I particularly appreciate the mix Tony is capturing with that camera of his. The photographs depict artist at work, in studio – set next to a compositional slice of their materials. Here are a few photos to remind you of the series and share more of my favorites.

Timothy Chapman – Painter

Annie Lopez – photographic media artist

Colin Chilag – Painter

Jenny Odom Ignaszewski – Painter

You can see all the photos to date, and new ones as they go up, at his website.

Oh…and look at the other project that was birthed along the way. It’s titled Solo and it’s simple… great fun, great composition.

Solo Portraits

Tony photographed visitors to his Bokeh opening. He refers to the set as 100 portraits of people wondering through the art community. The head shots are full of variety: both introverted and extroverted expressions are to be found.

Are you enjoying the work Tony?
I enjoy the work immensely. It’s a great adventure getting to see how the  artists work and to see what their studios look like. I love connecting with new people and talking to them. This project has opened me up to that.

His excitement is clear, he continues…
In conjunction with the opening of the exhibits, I’m also shooting portraits of the people who come to the show. They are simple head shots, in the black and white style I have developed. This really lets me connect with the whole community!

More of these images can be seen at

I ask him if the main project changed in any way since he began it last August?
The project has pretty much stayed the course as the style has not changed. The speed at which I am photographing has unfortunately slowed down.  He explains it all takes time and it all costs money. He drives around the entire county to visit studios and photograph artists.  He’s working on raising funds.

I had a September goal for completion, but I don’t think that will happen. But what will happen is A Portrait of 100 Arizona Artists will be completed within the Arizona Centennial, with help and support from the community.

Tony sent me the pdf of the invitation (below).  I was certainly not expecting this pleasant surprise.

Anthony Zeh is documenting artists who work in various forms, with various content, and of various generations, who have participated in the shaping and encouragement of the artistic culture in metropolitan Phoenix, in the last 20 years. That’s an ambitious project and it’s pretty great.

I’m jazzed to be a part of the grouping.

WHO:    Olney Gallery presents                  
               Anthony Zeh 
WHAT:  Anthony Zeh Photographs
               An Inside Look: Phoenix Artists
WHERE: Olney Gallery
                100 West Roosevelt
                 Phoenix, AZ 85003
WHEN:    June 1st – August 19th, 2012
WHAT ELSE: *Tony will be shooting visitor
portraits from 7-9,  opening night only. 

Olney Gallery is located inside Trinity Cathedral, right in front of a great labyrinth.
After (or before) you see the exhibit,  walk the labyrinth.

So…what all is Anthony Zeh doing to get his project out, and raise funds…
here let me outline a few things as best I can…

his web site → A Portrait of 100 Arizona Artists
All prints of artists are available for purchase.


again…He’ll be shooting portraits at the gallery (all ages welcome) – opening night only.
He will offer 11×14 limited edition, signed Art Prints for $100.
Tony’s Smug mug account offers less expensive pictures.
No charge to have your photo taken, but you must sign a release.

Look at the community portraits, on his web site → Solo

And there’s a book! It’s for sale…click on the photo below.


He’s YouTubing too…didn’t I tell you…the guy is busy!

Email Tony for more info.

A Portrait of 100 Arizona Artists received a Ted Decker Catalyst grant.

the fearless beth lederman

I used to be a fire lookout on O’Leary Peak. I was a Forest Service employee for four years, musician Beth Lederman shares with me. My mom was the Woody Mountain Lookout for over ten years and my sister was the lookout on Mt. Ord.

You ‘looked’ for fires?

The fire lookout conversation leads to an interesting revelation …. I like to practice fearlessness, Beth comments.

I think of hand-stands. How do you ‘practice’ fearlessness? I ask.

…you know… walking in the dark.

I’d looked forward to meeting Beth Lederman for some time. And last Saturday I spent the afternoon photographing her.

My loves are Latin jazz, Brazilian jazz, straight ahead jazz, salsa and Latin music, swing, and anything else that grooves.  Among the various musicians she collaborates with, she also has a group she co-founded.  Novo Mundo was my band for a long time. We have a gig in April coming up, April 27th …Wine, WoMen and Jazz at the Az Culinary Institute. 

Beth plays keyboards and in fact can truly be called eclectic.

… back to fearlessness …

I practice being brave in front of audiences, in trying new things when I am improvising, in taking risks,  in playing with all kinds of bands – sometimes with people I have never met!. I try to just get up there on stage and help share the feeling of being strong, and confident, and tapped in to this bigger flow which is music/spirit/life.

I also practice doing things even though I am afraid…like taking on the job of being a Spanish teacher 3 years ago, or making mistakes when I speak in my non-native tongue, or sitting in at jam sessions.  …. you know … walking in “dark” places.

The afternoon goes smoothly. We get lots of great photos.  I’ve said this before, the performer is a natural in front of the camera.  She adds… experience has allot to do with it.

My hope with these shots, is that you get a glimpse of both Beth’s fluid nature, and  her grounded quality. It’s one great combination for a piano player/educator/woman.

For more about Beth Lederman, who’s been making music for over 20 years, visit → her website.

Note the → calendar because next weekend she’ll be performing at both the Mesa Arts Center (on Saturday March 10th) and at the Scottsdale Center for the Arts (March 11th).

Catch Beth live and while you’re at it pay attention to how she practices fearlessness.

Anthony Zeh – 100 Artist Portraits

I like to tell a story with my work, professional photographer Anthony Zeh says as we’re wrapping up the afternoon. He shows me a few images from his portfolio including this one below.  It’s a family portrait

… never boring, he notes.

Portrait of a family in their kitchen

I meet Anthony Zeh on Tuesday evening. Thursday afternoon he’s in my studio taking photos.

…Tuesday we attend the same artist lecture at the ASU art museum.  Carolyn Lavender introduces us.  Jon Haddock is also at the lecture. Tony wants to know if I’m working in my studio these days, and if so … might you be available for a photo-shoot …Thursday?

Thursday? Day after tomorrow?

Carolyn and Jon, both having already been photographed, suggest I take the opportunity. Also, I learn while Tony is in the studio, Joan Prior mentioned my name to him a few weeks earlier.

….all feels like kismet to me.

Artist John Armstrong

I’d noticed the artists portraits showing up on Facebook for some time now.  I didn’t know exactly what was going on but I knew something interesting was happening.  Tony began his 100 Artists Portraits in August of 2011. Is this in celebration of our Centennial? I ask. Yes it is, he responds.

Artist Carolyn Lavender

Tony will be showing a running slide presentation of 50 of the portraits for the weekend of Art Detour. And as of now, the plan is to show the completed project at Bragg’s Pie Factory on Grand Ave. in September of 2012.  You don’t have to remember the latter, I’ll remind you.

If all works as planned he’ll have worked on 100 portraits in 12 months time. You do the math.

Artist Jon Haddock

The photos are compact, exciting, and telling. Artist is pictured working, in studio, with materials collaged into the composition. I mention they have a 3-D quality about them. Zeh explains it’s the 3-photo process he uses that brings out the various layers. It’s called HDR, High Dynamic Range.

Arizona is 100 years old. The 100 Artist Portraits series when complete, will document important work, at an important time.  I know many of the artists in the series thus far, but not every single one of them. He’s capturing one brief moment in time. To see the exhibition in its entirety will be valuable, it will represent something I am a part of…the wide range of creativity that is present right here, right now…

Thanks Tony, for capturing the nitty-gritty (truly) of it all…

WHAT:  A Portrait: 100 Phoenix Artists (Half Way Show)
WHO:   Anthony Zeh
WHERE:  Arizona Center, 400 Phoenix, AZ 85004 – Across from New York & Company
WHEN: ART DETOUR March 17th and 18th

Plan to check out the photos yourself. Let Anthony Zeh share some of his work and some of his process with you.

For more info or to contact Anthony Zeh visit his website.
Click on each photo to go to artists website.