South Shore Art Center & Cohasset Open Studios shows

Participating in these prestigious groups is an art lesson in itself

I summoned the courage to enter paintings and join local artists' organizations. To ready myself, I volunteered at the South Shore Art Center. The assignment was to accept art entries for the splendid summer show on Father's Day weekend, 2022. Due to the COVID pandemic, the SSAC summer shows under the tents in Cohasset Common had been cancelled in 2019 and 2020. Shows on a smaller scale had taken place, to the credit of SSAC. But everyone was particularly excited about the return of the big tents.

Upon arriving at SSAC, I realized it was the last day for artists to drop off entries. The walls of the back room were lined with every conceivable execution of photography, collage, sculpture, drawing and painting.

The flow of entrants was steady, each filling out separate tags and paying entry fees. There were complexities of course, involving Scotch Tape, wiring the backs of frames, checking membership status and processing credit cards. The undercurrent of angst was tangible, as each artist sincerely hoped their work would be accepted into the show.

As we ran out of space, we began placing entries in the back gallery, leaning them against the walls. The arrangement presented an opportunity to examine the many styles and mediums; the finished quality of seasoned artists' work, the roughness but bursting sincerity of young artists' work. More artists, arms full of work, sat at the table filling out forms, taping forms to entries, as we ran charge cards, counted out change and added to lists.

It occurred to me that a lot of the entries might have been launched by artists during the pandemic. The pandemic offered artists opportunity and time to produce art at prolific measures. That was certainly true of me; completing four big paintings in two months after a decades-long drought. Artists continued to arrive, backing up their cars in nearby parking spots, struggling to carry pieces into the gallery.

The clock read 3:45 p.m.. I nodded when an experienced volunteer advised me, "At 4 o'clock, we lock the door."

We raced back and forth, carrying art from front tables to back gallery, as artists filled out forms in their fastest handwriting. Glancing at my watch while cutting out slips with scissors, the minutes counted down. An artist ran across the street and a car jammed on its brakes. Just in time, the last of the entrants made it through the door and the key was turned.

Luckily, no one else showed up. A relief, for it would have been difficult to turn anyone away. I've attached some works by other artists that I particularly liked.

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