Meet and Greet: The Artists in Residence of Common Waters

Recently Janice Barlow and myself held a meet and greet at Design at Riverside as part of the Common Waters series of events. The afternoon began with myself talking about how nature and water played a part in our lives and transferred into our art. My appreciation for water began when I was about five years old, sharing an old farmhouse with no running water with eight other family members. Drinking water came from melting snow or boiling pond water or gathering it from a natural spring in galvanized milk pails.

Nature, water in particular has become a huge focus in my photography and is my therapy for living with anxiety and depression.

Janice spoke of living within a hundred feet of the river and her university studies in art .

We then asked those in attendance how water influenced them or sharing a memory of water . The smell and feel of salt water illicited memories from their past . Another recalled ferocious high waves on the ocean , but quickly learned from that experience, the benefits of water on life. One participant spoke of collecting stones along the shore of Lake Erie and enjoying the waters every afternoon possible and when leaving they would say "Goodbye lake. See you tomorrow."

One after another the stories came. Anxious at first with the meet and greet I felt at ease, hearing not just their stories about water, but their deep appreciation for water.

It was now our turn to be asked questions by participants.

"What is the one thing you got out of being part of Common Waters?"

A simple question perhaps but not so easy for me to answer with one singular answer.

Being involved with Common Waters began as an artist in resident, I was stunned and had moments of high anxiety . My initial proposal submitted was to have some of my water themed photography as part of the events. It was around last December I submitted my proposal . In early March I received word I had been accepted .

At the initial meeting at Design at Riverside, for the first time ; myself and Janice read the words Design at Riverside Artist in Residence .

Fast forward to August and being part of it since opening day, there are so many words for thank you !

This opportunity will not be forgotten. The other artists I have met and became friends with. The present count of close to one thousand gallery visitors. The students from the School of Architecture . The staff of Idea Exchange and Design at Riverside. Those who went along on my Walking Tour on a scorching hot day.

I am grateful and humbled.

I am thankful and proud.

We ended our meet and greet on a high note with music and dancing, sketching and chalking and blowing bubbles down along the river, just below where my adventure with Common Waters began , as the turtles basked on rocks looking our way, ducks swam toward us and fish jumped not fifteen feet from us in celebration and appreciation of water.

  • Joe Lethbridge

Joe Lethbridge