Artists take part in VKC mentoring program

"Red Cups Tea Party" art by Anne Ambrose

Two artists who have exhibited work at the Vanderbilt Kennedy Center took part in an arts mentoring program with local artist and curator Lain York to prepare for their Fall 2015 solo exhibits.

Work by artists with disabilities is shown year-round in the lobby of One Magnolia Circle Building as a part of the Vanderbilt Kennedy Center (VKC) Arts Program.

York, who is preparator of VKC art exhibits, worked with local artists Preston Vienneau and Anne Ambrose as they navigated the steps involved in mounting art exhibits after art is created and marketing art.

Artist Anne Ambrose and Jimmie Daniel at the artist reception on October 6th.

Artist Anne Ambrose and Jimmie Daniel at the artist reception on October 6th.

“The mentoring opportunity was an extension of the Vanderbilt Kennedy Center exhibition program, and was a nice fit due to my experience as a gallery director, and artist, and my involvement in the independent artist community for the past 25 years,” York said. “Anne and Preston were two of many artists who regularly show at the VKC and have presented consistent, contiguous bodies of work. My hope is to see more one- and two-person outings. It’s increasingly important to find a peer-base or a community platform to work from.”

York shared with the mentees his insights on the ever-changing state of the art market and helped them develop strategies to promote their work within the art scene.

“Venues for showing work are at a premium,” York continued. “The visual arts industry is in a huge transition, and many of the strategies that served artists in the past are no longer viable. Small, fighting groups of artists combining resources and opportunities have a much better prospect for survival than individuals going it alone. The Vanderbilt Kennedy Center is an ideal opportunity and venue for these artists to distinguish themselves and break out into the art market at large.”

During the mentor meetings, York discussed important details such as increasing internet presence via social media; finding the right venue; presentation and framing; and determining value and price points. At the end of the program, Vienneau and Ambrose had the opportunity to showcase their work in their own solo shows at the VKC for the Fall 2015 semester. The mentoring program concluded with an artists’ reception and panel held in the VKC’s One Magnolia Circle Building location on Oct. 6.

“I enjoyed the mentoring sessions. Lain is educated and in touch with what’s going on in the world of art. He’s creative and inspires me to keep going forward in my art,” Ambrose said. “I learned a lot about the present art scene and how to properly hang my paintings. I can use this information going forward in my work.”

Preston Vienneau (left) working with Lain York (right) to hang art exhibit

Preston Vienneau (left) working with Lain York (right) to hang art exhibit

"Spire” art by Preston Vienneau

“Spire” art by Preston Vienneau

“Working with Anne and Lain has been a good experience,” added Vienneau. “The sessions introduced Lain and his line of work, also basic things to know on selling your art in the ‘art world.’ I learned that anyone can be an artist in their own creative way.”

Vienneau’s exhibit “Coalesce” was featured at the VKC July through September. The collection featured an array of abstract shapes, colors, and brushstrokes created from acrylic on paper and canvas.

“My friends and family inspire me. Also, nature and music really inspire me as well,” said Vienneau. “I create artwork mainly for fun and creativity.”

Ambrose’s exhibit “Dolls Tea Party” is on display in the VKC lobby now through the end of December. Her works are acrylic on canvas and feature whimsical scenes of dolls and animals enjoying tea time in bucolic settings.

“I like to see what my imagination will come up with. I like spiritual and fantasy themes a lot,” said Ambrose. “I create because it’s given me something positive to focus on, and I care about each piece as if it were a new friend.”

Although York served as mentor during the program, he admits that he learned from his students as well.

“I feel that this was an opportunity to take my experience with the VKC Arts Program to a new level. It’s time that Kennedy Center artists take a more prominent place at the table so many of us have been sitting at for years,” he said. “I’m excited about it as an opportunity to put a colleague from the VKC community in a position to take a leadership role and teach me a few things.”

What advice would Ambrose and Vienneau share with their fellow artists?

“It’s important to me to still be able to participate in art shows and make sales as I age and slow down,” Ambrose said. “I still feel a connection with other people and still feel like I’m contributing to this world. My only advice to other artists is–don’t give up on your dreams. They may change a little, but keep an open mind and keep trying.”

“To be able to show my work and sell it in the public means that I’m gaining exposure and a following as an artist,” said Vienneau. “My advice to other artists would be that you can always do something creative and have fun with it.”

The next VKC art exhibit will be “Creative Expressions XXI,”, January to March 2016. For more information about the VKC Arts Program, contact Laurie Fleming at (615) 936-8852.

Elizabeth Turner is VKC coordinator of Communications.

Pictured top of page: “Red Cups Tea Party” art by Anne Ambrose

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