Posted by Open Studio

10 reasons I’m an OS volunteer

Open Studio Volunteers

Written by Amitra Chandra

I was introduced to Open Studio by Print Sales Manager Astrid Ho a few years ago. Having recently moved to Toronto from Boston, I was keen to get to know the local arts community. I had a great time visiting Open Studio’s galleries as well as exploring the 401 Richmond building where Open Studio is located. Three years ago I was invited to join Open Studio’s Board, and recently started a one-year term as the Board Chair. There are many reasons why I love to spend my time volunteering at Open Studio. I’m going to narrow it down to just 10 here:

1. Getting to know the medium of printmaking. I am not an artist but I’ve spent some time trying my hand at painting. I remember the first time I made a monotype. It felt like magic. Since then I’ve gotten to know more about printmaking and I love both its tactile nature and long history of existence. Open Studio has given me a chance to deepen my knowledge of this great medium.

2. Meeting our artist members. It’s one thing to see a work of art hanging on a wall. It’s another to meet the artist in person. Volunteering at Open Studio means I get to bump into artists like Victoria Cowan and Pamela Dodds and get to know the people behind the prints.

3. Trying out some classes. I had no idea how many classes Open Studio offered, both for artists and people who just want more creativity in their lives. So far, I’ve taken Power Printmaking, which was a great introduction to the world of printmaking. Next up, either a letterpress workshop or a screenprinting class. (You don’t have to be a volunteer to take a class, but hanging around the studio makes it extra hard to resist).

4. Working with the Board and staff. It takes a village to keep Open Studio running and I’ve loved getting to know the dedicated Open Studio staff. And it’s been inspiring to see the effort that Open Studio’s Board puts in to help Open Studio thrive. Plus, I’ve made some new connections that I hope will be lifelong ones.

5. Attending Editions. Formerly known as 100 Prints, Editions is Open Studio’s primary fundraising event. I love that it’s not a stuffy affair. Quite the opposite in fact. Editions is a fun night out, whether you are participating in the art draw or just hanging out with friends. As a volunteer I’ve been able to take part in the planning efforts around Editions and it’s been great to introduce my friends to the event and see them become regulars.

6. Seeing the corporate community step up in support. It’s one thing to see corporate logos in a catalogue or ad, but being behind the scenes of our fundraising efforts, I can really see what a difference it makes when a company offers support in cash or kind. It makes me happy that the place where I get my morning smoothies or the bank where I do business is also a good community citizen.

7. Spending time in the 401 Richmond building. With new buildings going up like gangbusters in Toronto, it’s nice to see that 401 Richmond has remained dedicated to supporting cultural organizations. Every time I visit Open Studio for a Board meeting, I have an excuse to pop into Red Head Gallery, the new Spacing store and Swipe.

8. Adding to my art collection. Of course my art collection has grown since joining the Open Studio Board. I was lucky to win a print from award-winning artist Shogo Okada at my first Artist Proof sale, and since then I’ve picked up more prints including one that I wake up to every morning from Isabelle Hémard.

9. Getting to know the OS community. Open Studio is much more than the physical space it occupies. Over the last 45 years, it has been home and host to thousands of artists, visitors, art critics, educators and supporters.

10. Helping to support Open Studio’s mandate. I listed this one last but it’s perhaps the most important aspect of my work with Open Studio. Open Studio exists to support the practice of contemporary fine art printmaking, and to offer facilities and services at subsidized rates to artists. I love that in my own little way, I can contribute to this bigger vision.

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