Project Progress

PROJECT PROGRESS: To date, I have collected three gallons of pennies! Will tally them soon. Check here for Project Progress throughout the year.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Off and Running

We're off to a VERY good start! This past week there were articles about us in the Phoenix New Times Jackalope Ranch Culture Blog and The Town of Paradise Valley Independent Newspaper. Additionally, I was informed by Phoenix Magazine that I will be their Artist of The Month in March and have been interviewed by them about the Penny Project. So we're getting some buzz. Now the big question: will people participate?

Last night, at my show in the MonOrchid Gallery (Phoenix) for First Friday Artwalk, I had a sign up over a Penny Jar (see photo) and I also carried information cards and a smaller penny jar during the show. I collected hundreds of pennies!!! Perhaps over a thousand (I'll count them tomorrow). I should say the equivalent of hundreds of pennies as some people gave me larger change or dollar bills. It was one of the more interesting evenings of my recent past.

I was heartened to see many people stop, read the sign, and drop in their change. Other people I approached directly and asked if they'd like to participate in a community art project. Most of those people responded positively. Some simply gave pennies willingly. Some became very excited about the idea of being involved in the project as it develops. One person even used the word "inspiring."

And then there were the others... the ones who read the sign with great deliberation and moved past without contributing, the ones who I approached and refused me the way people refuse a beggar ("sorry, I don't have any change on me," no eye contact, won't take the information card), the guy who put flyers about his own event in my penny jar and on the pedestal around it. That particular guy (who I met later without knowing it was him) called it "the tip jar," hadn't bothered to read the sign, was thrilled to meet me (my reputation preceded me, I guess), and promised me lots of pennies if I come to his event next month.

As for me, I certainly could have approached more people, but I found it hard to do. First Friday brings out a strange crowd. It's impossible to judge who might be interested. I viewed the people most interested in my art, the ones who didn't go by it at a slow trot, as the first subset. Of those, I gravitated to the older, more mature among them. This may have been a mistake. My approach varied with people. I'm sure it will come easier to me and I'll hone my skills at it as time goes by. I overheard so many people commenting about liking my pieces; people I didn't have the time, or the guts, to ask for pennies. I guess I owe the project at least a couple of dollars since I said that if complimentors didn't put a penny in the jar, I'd put one in for them. I also should mention that I found, at times, talking about the project was a good ice breaker for talking to people in general. One person I spoke with later commissioned me to do some collage work for him based on his appreciation of my decoupage toilet seats.

So, all in all, for a first week, it rocked!