When I mail my work to shows, I don't get to hear people's comments very often. Actually talking to someone in person about what they see when they look at my work is so valuable. Even "oh my!" or "I'd like to get inside your head" provides valuable "fuel" that can keep me going in those dark days when I feel discouraged. And "This one doesn't work for me" also makes me think about why? Did I overlook something? Could I have done better? Or maybe it's their preference for a certain technique or material?
I recently had some good feedback from Alicia Bailey, of Abecedarian gallery, on In My Dreams We Travel in Boats. In her blog she said it had "a solidity of weight quite at odds with its subject." This made me think, again, about materials, goals for my work, how to distance myself from the process and see the bigger picture. I don't necessarily have answers, but it's good to be reminded to constantly consider these things.
All this is just to say that my primary goal in doing Open Studios is not selling things - it's contact with people and seeing the work through other eyes that makes the time and effort feel worthwhile.
To read a similar idea about the benefits of showing your work - and being able to talk to people about it - check out Alyson Stanfield's article on why exhibiting your art is good for you. She says "exhibiting your art allows you to have a dialogue with people about the work. You can’t help but learn and grow from these experiences."