People Watching Is Like Bird Watching

The gallery where I have my studio is a co-op and one of the requirements of being in a cooperative art gallery is that you have to work there a few times a month. So, (in addition to time spent in the studio) I get a lot of opportunities for people watching… and unintentional eavesdropping. Ok, sometimes it’s not unintentional. I am, by nature, both creative and curious.

I have to admit, I do like to people watch while working at the gallery. It’s kind of like birdwatching in your backyard. Like the birds, some arrive by themselves, some with their mates, some in groups. Some come in with their young in tow. You can hear soft twittering to loud cawing. Some are from the area and others are just passing through.

Watching and listening tells me a lot about our visitor. For example, those who know their stuff from those who, in a word, don’t. Those that don’t know their stuff try really hard to get attention. They strut, they flap a bit, they make a lot of noise while they tilt their heads back and forth surveying the art… all while trying to impress whoever is closest. “Look at the definitive aspects of the piece in how it’s being interpreted.” WHAT?? Yes, that circle is interpreted very circular and that square is very square. And just so you know, I would never embarrass anyone by saying something. Unless asked. Even then, I am gentle as I explain what I know about the artist, their artwork, and their technique.

Or I totally agree with them. Saves time.

Like birds to my yard, some of their songs can be irritating at times. Such as: “these look like a little kid did them”. NOT A CHANCE, LADY! Ok, it might look simple, but it’s a developed technique, and a kid couldn’t do it. (Unless the little kid is an art savant… and they do exist, but not at our gallery. We wouldn’t want the competition.) Or the songs can be quite enjoyable, “I just LOVE how this was done. I just want to step into the scene” YES! That’s what the artist hopes you’ll feel. Or even songs that are sweetly amusing. Such as “Look how realistic this is! It’s amazing!” WELL, Sir, that’s a photograph in a frame.

So, as artists, we just smile and enjoy the sighting. An art critic now might become an art collector in the future. We definitely want the bird to come back. So we do our best to encourage and not discourage… unless they are an absolute looney bird.

Now… back to bird watching (I mean people watching) the visitors in the gallery. Like the birds that come to my backyard, I appreciate all the visitors that stop in. Okay, some more than others. What is important is that each is special and unique in their plumage and by their nature. Also, each comment or encounter can lead to one of the following: 1) a private laugh shared with another artist as we roll our eyes, 2) a teachable moment with someone who is truly interested to know more, or 3) an enjoyable conversation with someone who happens to really connect with a piece in the gallery.

Watching and listening. Whether it’s people or birds, it makes time spent around them much more enjoyable. Most of the time.

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