Life is a river and other ruminations

Friends treated Dave & I to a day trip down the Deschutes River last weekend. It was beyond wonderful. And symbolic… a sappy way.

Into the rapids

Into the rapids

In my world of summer shows once April-May comes I feel like I'm on a river trip dropping into a rapid. And I don't pop out of it until September. For me it means paddling as fast as I can all summer long, never looking up, and hoping all turns out well. Last year had its rocky spots; we lost our canopy & all of our display to freaky wind in Des Moines & I managed to break a shoulder running for the porta-potty at Art in the Pearl. But it had its highs, great shows…and our dot was married to a most wonderful man at our home.

This year it was a great year, minus any rocks, flips, or personal injuries. We had interesting weather, snow in Laramie-Wyoming, hid from a tornado in Seibert, Colorado, 3 days of rain and great sales in Belleville, Ill. We made it thru Des Moines with only one threatened wind storm that never came, more great sales and a beautiful drive home that took us north of Joplin, Missouri the day the tornado hit there. We were lucky. While we were saving a turtle that day in Missouri, helping it cross the road, Joplin was hanging on.

Pissed off turtle

Pissed off turtle

We had more rain in Salem (the first rain on the show in 35 years!) and welcomed being in Bellevue, Wash in a lovely inside parking garage. At Art in the High Desert-Bend, Oregon, the show we help produced with 3 other board members...we were honored, surprised and deeply touched to be awarded a Bench Mark Award by the AHD artists to us for putting on the kind of show they wanted to come to.

Our 2011 Benchmark Award

Our 2011 Benchmark Award

And we ended the show season at Art in the Pearl, Portland, Oregon...our other "home" show. We love the Pearl.

…And now its September the post show month. And this year I am determined to take September off, the calm after the rapids. A corny analogy to be sure, but apt.

after the rapids

after the rapids

I’m cleaning the studio….which you can see it badly needs, packing for a wonderful trip our son and his lovely lady; planned by them just for us, taking long naps, riding my bike, and enjoying the delayed summer as it finally is hot in Central Oregon.

messy workbench

messy workbench

A fine end to a wonderful show season. Thanks all for making it memorable, profitable, full of laughter, and coming along with Dave & I for the ride.


Where have I been?!

Here in Central Oregon, head down, tail up, working working working. You'd think I could get to the computer to type a few words but I always want to "craft" the words on this blog, add photos, etc. so I make it more time-consuming then I should and nothing gets done.

But to catch up since December!

January 2011: Relaxing thinking all my life was up-to-date, could let go for a while. Working on jewelry commissions, life was good, cold-snowy, but good. I was in control. Silly me.

February 2011: Damn me. Art in the High Desert was in Jury Mode had a pile of work to do to organize that.

March 2011: Jury results were released. Lots to organize that, work with accepted artists, write 86! detailed jury feedbacks for artists who requested them. So much work, but so important to do. I also etched 10 sheets of expensive! sterling silver to hold me thru the summer.

April 2011: Hummm, show season is coming, still working on jury feedback, have commissions I'm trying to get done, but summer is still far far far away.

May 2011: Damn Dave! He pointed out that Belleville, Illinois---a great show is just around the corner. Panic mode....Art int he High Desert still needs my time, the studio needs my time, wasn't I going to cross country ski more?

I made it through May, went to Belleville's Art on the Square 2011, had a wonderful show. Followed that with a trip to Indianapolis for an art/show directors' conference. And now am home.

May's photo for you is Dave & I and our trusty mini van hiding from a tornado in Seibert,Colorado. Can ya see us?



Hoo Boy!

Whatta summer. Its been 5 months of all out hurrying as we went from one show to the next, to 2 weddings, one at our home! First things first. We have recovered from our Des Moines blow-out.

I am again humbled and grateful for the friends we have. They supported us in all ways as we set about returning our booth to its full form. Without these friends we would have never made it through this summer. Here we are a mere 2 weeks after losing our booth in Des Moines back up and running at Salem Arts Festival here in Oregon.

Salem 2010
Salem 2010

My rings were even part of the massive I-5 freeway billboard. It's quite a surprise to see one's rings so BIG.

Salem 2010 billboard
Salem 2010 billboard

From there we went immediately to the Bellevue Arts Festival in Bellevue, Washington. This is a wonderful show, with some of my favorite artists. Extra bonus for us weather weary is that it is inside a parking structure that provides shade and protection from rain, hot sun, and winds!

Then it was on to Art in the High Desert - the show we put on with a group of local artists, here in Bend, Oregon. This is our baby and we had 3 weeks to put the final touches on it before welcoming this year's artists. We in our 3rd year and it gets better each year.

AHD 2010
AHD 2010

A week after Art in the High Desert we were at Art in the Pearl, in Portland, Oregon. This proved to be an eventful show in many ways for me. But more in the next blog.

Happy Fall, all. Sign up for my newsletter. Once Fall is well-under way I will be starting online sales and discounts! just for my mailing list clients. If you signed up at a show, you can wait for me to add you, or add yourself. My program, MailChimp eliminates all duplicates.

Thanks for a great summer!


Belleville, Illinois...hard part is getting there...... & back

But the in between was grand.

The house sitters were in place, the dog sent to the dot for a vacation, and we hit the road to Belleville, Illinois, just south of St Louis. For two weeks, Dave, the hub, had been giving me updates on the weather in St Louis. "It's in the 80's," he's been repeating. Sounds wonderful to me. I packed my accordingly, I was tired of a sloppy wet winter-spring.

As we pulled out of Bend on an overcast day I looked forward to driving into warmer dryer weather. Hey, we were heading south. I pulled on some early summer clothes hopped into the van and bid the house and studio a fond farewell. This is what we drove into.


In Laramie, Wyoming-May 12, 2010, they closed all south and east highways. With 500 miles a day to do, sitting on the edge of a snowy freeway was not in the game plan. But it was Mom Nature's plan. We joined a long line of trucks waiting for the freeway to be plowed and reopened. Sigh.

Our next decision was to go through Kansas or Nebraska? I voted for the southern route as it had to be drier and warmer, but as we checked we found that route had tornado warnings on. Nebraska it was.

No storm can cover a country from the west coast to the midwest, but seemingly this storm did or it was chasing us. We finally pulled into Belleville, Illinois Thursday eve in the rain. And so the weekend went. Rain, some clearing as a tease, and more rain.

Belleville rain
Belleville rain

The good news is that Belleville folks are no more intimidated by a little rain then they are  in the Pacific NW. The crowds were out, they loved the art, and best for us artists they bought. Hooray! Thank you Belleville. One can withstand a soggy show if company and appreciative clients abound. We were treated like royalty, given great food, show every hospitality by the 500+! volunteers and even awarded a prize for excellence that came with  $! This show rated as one of our best ever shows, even with the rain!

We packed up Sunday eve, damp, but happy and it was on to our next show. Problem is that it won't happen for 5 weeks and is in Des Moines, Iowa. We decided that the best thing to do was store the van with the booth and fly home. This good decision turned into a great decision when it rained the last few minutes as we loaded up and all our carefully dried out things got wet again.

Once in Des Moines we rented a storage unit, unpacked and re-dried off our booth and its various pieces, gave our hard-working van a run through a car wash and locked the door on it all.

drying out the booth
drying out the booth

Now we are thinking we're pretty clever folks. We've braved snow, freeway closures, tornado warnings, torrential rain, figuring out how to dry out and store a very wet booth, and we have our earnings and prize money in hand.

But wait....we're not home yet. We board a plane in Des Moines with a long stopover in the Dallas International Airport. While waiting to fly home we decide to have a meal & we both pick out a healthy, fresh, yummy salad, all sealed up in safe plastic. We arrive Tuesday eve and Wednesday morn Dave wakes me up to say he's not feeling so good. Hummmm. I'm fine....must be HIS problem. By Thursday its my problem too. A raging case of food poisoning hit us both. No details, ya'll been there, done that....but yegawds what a homecoming. We both took to our bed and I didn't pop back up for almost a week. Is this a result of feeling smug and clever, I dunno. But it sure took the starch outta my sails.

Happily we're all recovered, the rain is STILL coming down, its JUNE for gawd-sakes! and I'm back at the bench getting ready for Des Moines. We will reclaim our booth from the storage facility, repack our van, and go to downtown Des Moines and do it all over again.

I hope to see you there!

Scottsdale Art Festival

I love Scottsdale, Arizona! Though we are back in the studio after a whirlwind trip to the southwest, we are still relishing our time there. We drove like demons to get there, had a grand time, and drove 2 long 12-hour days home, no time for site seeing this trip. The only blessing in this trip is we travel east of the Sierra. Its an incredibly beautiful side of California.

But in between the butt numbing driving, we were in heaven. We stayed with friends in their fully restored mid-century modern home. They are landscape designers so the house is a joy of great design both inside and outside. It was our own personal resort with wonderful hosts, who cooked for us and even did laundry! We were taken on a post show hike in the desert to work out the cricks before we had to climb back into our van for the 1250 mile trip home. This is a rare treat when your guides are so knowledgeable about the desert plants.

When not at our "resort" we were at the show where our booth is always an easy set up and take down. The Scottsdale show is set in a lovely park area, though we choose to stay in the parking lot. We love our "hood" as there are always great friends there as well as new friends to meet in our fellow artists. The weather this year was perfect! Not too hot, or cold, no winds, or rain.

But the best were our customers, both old and new. To quote Sally Fields, "You like me, you really really like me!" As an artist there is a lot of me in each of my pieces. I have spent much time designing, picking the right stones, pearls, walking away-coming back, redesigning, fabricating, finishing each of the pieces. Every time a piece of jewelry walks out of my booth with someone, it is a thrill. Customers take a little bit of me with them and I am always honored with each purchase. Eeeuuww, Enough! I'm getting sentimental.

What's next? Well, what isn't next? More commissions to complete. Some old, some new. The show we help organize in Bend, Art in the High Desert, is inviting artists for this year's show. I must send out invitations, and "sorry you're not invited"to 438 artists. Always an exciting time as well as sad, as I know how it feels to not be juried into a show. And our weather is springlike, so it's hard to stay inside. We want to try at least one more cross-country ski day before we dig out our road bikes and declare winter over.

Happy Spring top everyone.  Keep in touch.

Preparing for the next show

I'm currently getting ready for a rare February show. Rare because short of traveling to Florida there are few to none shows in the Pacific NW in the winter. But the Bellevue, Washington Art Museum folks (who also put on the Bellevue Museum Art Fair) have started a new show, just for jewelry: Indulge. Held a week before Valentine's Day it promises to be great fun. Plus the dot, Sarah is also one of the participating artists.

I've known about this show for months. I've known I need to get my inventory up after a very successful last show. So why am I now in the last few weeks working like crazy to build up my inventory when I could have done it at my leisure for several months? This seems to be a common thing for artists. While I beat myself up for not doing all things earlier, I wonder about this. And I've come up with a reason...that satisfies me for now.

For me, it takes a while to get into the groove of creating. Its a state of mind and will, and frankly once there its all-consuming. The rest of the world must wait while I create. It is not something I can switch on and off; I'm more like the little engine that could. It takes me a some time to get rolling.

I know Dave-the-hub, as well as myself would be much more relaxed if I did not approach work this way. But after years of trying to break out of this habit, I'm still in it. This seems to be an artist thing. Many friends complain of the same syndrome.

Our house is now adrift in the flotsam and jetsam of a show. We've pulled out the display pieces to sort and repair. Our old boxes have cracked and Dave purchased new purple ones to carry our traveling retail store from place to place.

Dave & display pieces & the dining room table.
Dave & display pieces & the dining room table.
new boxes
new boxes

The dog wanders amongst the piles. She's seen it all before. Her favorite thing is that she gets to sleep in the clean laundry that is not getting folded and put away.


And so it goes. I don't know whether I should be worried that I can't compartmentalize better so I can jump from task to task. Or I should thank my lucky stars that I can focus like a laser when I need to.

Running a show


Time's short and I too busy. Two or so years ago some artists and art advocates in Bend decided that the West Coast in general and Bend in particular needed a really wonderful show. What's more we realized we had all the skills to put one on. And so it started.

In 2 weeks the 2nd annual Art in the High Desert will come to Bend. Its a lotta work. We are an all-volunteer group.  Which makes it a bit crazy to work this hard. But we all agree that it is worth it. But today, for now, Arggghhh. Why do I have the good ideas I do? I'm way too busy. Our whole team is working hard, on their own art, and each of their show jobs.

Last year was our first year. We could have picked a more auspicious economy during which to start a show...but we like challenges. More important, the city of Bend, and central Oregon love fine art. They came out and bought last year, and they tell us they will be back again this year.

So while my life is filled with little details, final advertising pushes, (I even get to be interviewed on a local TV staiton) here are some images from last years show, taken by our photog Tom Hassler, aerial photograph by Matt Verdieck.  Enjoy the view, come and visit us this year. We have great artists coming again, don't miss them.


AHD_08 Along the river

BearAHD 2008

Long Day AHD _08

Aerial AHD 08

Post show diddles

Before a show I am focused, on task, getting things done. Today after the show I am bumping around trying to figure out what jobs I put down before I left I need to pick up first. They all seem to be important now.

I'm still halfway at the show, thinking about all that happened, seeing happy customers, reviewing things to change for the next show.

One thing I must say:

I must take back all the snarky remarks I have ever made about the parking lot structure that the Bellevue Museum art festival is in.  I LOVE IT! Its been whitewashed so it looks good, the funky lights have been replaced, but BEST OF ALL, when it got dreadfully hot outside it was quite tolerably cool inside. Since every one of my last 4 shows have had some sort of weather issue, I was delighted to be out of the elements. The Bellevue parking garage is the BEST!


Cool with no wind or rain

Getting ready for the next show

We're getting ready for our "July" show. Itsa biggie and a favorite. We've tried to catch up on things left undone before the last show, arrange for house sitters, weed a bit, enjoy a glorious summer, and keep at work. But it is hard condensing life into time slots between shows.

We will head north this time to Bellevue, Washington for the Bellevue Museum Art Festival-or BAM-or the Garage Sale. It's held in one of the more unfortunate venues, a shopping mall's concrete parking structure. But it is shady and cool, and we are protected from rain and wind. The audience is an art-savvy interested group of buyers and are there to see and buy art. The artists are always first rate.

At Bellevue we will be showing with our dot,  Sarah, in the next booth. This will be a first, fun, endlessly entertaining, and a challenge. Sarah is our favorite daughter, our only one in fact, and came equipped with everything one wants in a daughter; other then that she's younger, taller, thinner, and has the most outrageous hair. Her jewelry is very different from mine, reflecting her youthful and unique outlook on life.

Our son also lives in the area so it will be a family silly time, to bug each other, laugh, eat, help out, talk, listen....but I digress.

Cow fence green grass

As Dave repeatedly has to tell me I will be there to sell jewelry. And in order to sell it I must first make it. I love being a jeweler, it's home for me. But right now I wanna ride my bike, sit in my hammock chair, kayak, go for an early morn walk with our dog,  or write in my blog. Of course, if  I was told to ride my bike all day, I'd rather be walking the dog. If I was told to walk the dog I'd want to write in the blog all day. And if told to do nothing but write, I'd want to be making jewelry. I call it my "Grass is Greener" syndrome. If I hafta do it, whether I love it or not, suddenly I want to do something else. It's a leftover from a contrary childhood.

So back to work for me. I have some great new work on the bench that needs finishing, some oldie but goodies that also need their final patinas and placing on the cards. Bellevue is going to be fun. But I must first work to earn it .

(And oh yeah, to Johanna, from Des Moines, who reads my  blog - even tho' she's not related to me, and likes it! Hi. It was great talking with you.)


Rain-Cherry Creek, Colorado 2009

What's worse for an art show artist-a raging wind storm or torrential rains? I'm not sure. But last weekend at the Cherry Creek Art Festival in Denver, we had the opportunity to deal with the rain.

Our daughter, Sarah, was in the Cherry Creek festival. So on the way home from Des Moines, we stopped in Denver to help her set up her booth, and I stayed on as her assistant while Dave flew home to the dogs and our other life.

Fortunately he hung around for Friday of the show. We needed all hands on deck. The Rockies are known for their afternoon thunder storms, so we weren't too concerned as the dark clouds rolled in, nor even when show staff came to warn us that a rain and thunder storm would hit in 20 minutes. As per the show's suggestion we had not set the tent in the gutter, the tent was a light dome and had weathered several storms with nary a leak, and we were Oregonians, we are the rain.

Be careful what you don't worry about. Cherry Creek had a huge rainstorm on Friday. We were fortunate as the river/gutter we were by flowed on without overwhelming the booth. It came thorough the booth but we made an island of plastic boxes in the center, hiked up all the stuff we didn't want wet and rode it out. Other artists were not so lucky. If their booth sat at the confluence of 2 drainage areas water rose a foot in their boothes. Some art was lost. One artist's tool box floated 2 blocks away. It was eventually returned by another artist.

And so it goes. Life in a 10' x 10' retail space....

The Des Moines Art Festival

The Des Moines Art Festival is now in our rearview mirror. We came, we sweated, we sold, laughed, ate, slept, packed up and are now off to the next show. This one is our dot's in Cherry Creek, Denver Colorado. I am her helper, while she sells her amazing sculptural felted jewelry. Check it out:

Des Moines puts on a great festival. Set in downtown it has a backdrop of the most amazing sculpture garden. Even though the sculptures sit in a sea of mud in the unfinished site, festival visitors stood next to chain link fences and pointed at their favorites.

Des Moines Interactive mural project, circa 2008

My personal favorite part of the festival is the interactive mural project. Here is a photo from last year's mural.

So now is time to move ahead, plan for the next show, pay a few bills, and get back to the studio. Adios Des Moines, we had a grand time.


Set up Time at the show

A man stood studying our jewelry and displays. "Does the show provide you with all this?"

set up DM 2009 Nope, each artist brings their own full 10' x 10' retail store to each show. And what they bring is as individual as their art. Some fly in and ship their booth and inventory ahead. Their booths tend towards the minimalist. Others come in large sprinter vans, trucks, vans pulling trailers. What is unloaded from those would put many circuses to shame. I always think this is the most fascinating time of a show, watching the various booths be put together tinker-toy style, until VOILA! a retail spot.

The Des Moines Art Festival has a leisurely set-up day. This is good. It was in the 90's with lots of humidity. It was brutal work. Everyone moved at half speed with lots of stops for brow wiping, drinking, and dirty glances at the sun. I got a little cranky, unloading the van,  putting up the canopy, setting up the display. The ever-cheerful and nothing-bothers-him hubby, kept at it saying it was fine, good for the soul and other such nonsense. Only after I threatened to kill him did he slow up his happy chatter. When one is miserable, one does not need happiness. We set-up the big stuff before I finally said "uncle" as we retreated to a cool hotel room. We went back to work some more after the sun had gone down & finished up the next morning.

The mother of invention being a weekend of intolerable heat, I came up with an idea for a swamp cooler in our booth. My brilliant idea?

So clever, so cool, but does it work.....?

A pan of ice sitting in front of a fan. Ignoring the fact that humidity renders a swamp cooler moot, it was sorta like spitting in the wind. But it made me feel like I had some control of my environment. Dave, the hubby, played along, "Yes, dear it DOES feel cooler in the tent."

The transition between being a solitary studio artist to a meet-and-greet retail sales person, is always a little rocky for me. I've had my head down nose to the file in the studio making its time to show them. It usually takes 1/2 day for me to get my talker going. Some of the most amazing non-sequiturs come out of me in the early stages of each show. Its as if I have forgotten how to talk while working in the studio. Our daughter calls them my "spoonerisms." I have told customers, "If I can ask any questions, let me know and I will ankwer them." Huh?

I like doing shows, I like seeing peoples reaction to my work. I just wish I could be more suave about it. The Des Moinians were patient with my first attempts. And as the weekend proceeded the weather cooled (sorta) and my talker came on line.

On the road again

The last few weeks have been non-stop work preparing for the Des Moines Art Festival. Its a great show, wonderfully-organized, one of the best in the country. It has to be for 2 people from Oregon to travel the 1700 miles to get here. The best part is seeing the wide-open country and antelope, the worst was being eaten by mosquitos at a campground in Rawlins, Wyoming, that sat on the edge of the freeway.

We had chosen to camp our way across the country to save  money. KOA's seem a good idea as they are clean, have showers, readily available. The one in Rawlins meets all that criteria. But it was set between some apartment buildings and the freeway. Our fellow tent neighbors lost something around 10 pm and spent the next hour opening and closing every door in their car repeatedly. But it was the mosquitos that finally undid me. I started to think real hard about camping being a good idea. And I use to teach outdoors for a living.

Grand Island, Nebraska's KOA sat in a grove of trees next to a corn field. Perfect, until the mosquitos came out again. Once we had eaten and been eaten, we plugged in the computer and a small fan and sat in our tent seeing a thunder and  lightening storm bear down on us, while watching Jon Stewart and drinking cheap wine. The silliness of the situation tickled us. Laying in a backpacking tent, watching a thunder storm fly at us, while viewing a TV program on our computer. Man has camping changed.

View from our "window."

Thunder storm moving in

Channeling Sally Fields...reallyReallyreally.

I don't squeal. I don't repeat myself. I carry myself with dignity and grace at all times.

So what was I doing squealing in a microphone at a city mayor and show director in front of hundreds of people. "ME? You really liked my work? Really?" The show director looked decidely puzzled at this remark and I plopped my mouth shut as I realized what I was saying. I tried again,"Thank you so much, I really appreciate this, I'm just surprised." and with that I staggered back to my seat to the amused faces of my fellow artists and the husband.

I had won much to my astonishment "Best of Jewelry" in the La Quinta Art Show last year. Its not that I don't think my work is la-qunita-awardgood, GREAT! and deserving of an award, but fabricated jewelers who don't use a lot of gems, rarely win these awards. Or so I tell myself when I don't win. Plus I don't really like Best of....prizes as deep down I don't feel art should be competitive. And I have too much admiration for my fellow jewelers to think I am the "Best of them" for any given time or show. But the little girl in me loved winning.....really-a-lots.

I received a chance to be more eloquent again this year when I won 2nd place in jewelry at Scottsdale Art Show, 2009. Oh, I do like winning. But again, I look at my very talented fellow jewelers and wonder, me?

The public seems to like to see the ribbons in one's booth. Kids usually spot the ribbons first and nudge their parents into noticing. They congratulate them & I duck my head with proper humility and say "Thanks." But the kindergartener in me is doing the Snoopy Dance and squealing.


Booth photos…arghhh

The room sounded like it was full of pirates. Another booth photo had come up on the screen and jurors groaned…..arghhh.

Artists understand what I am about to talk about, for my non-artist readers, an explanation is due. When we artists want to be in a show we just can’t add our names to the list. We must apply and be juried in. The application process usually involves answering a few questions, sending images of one’s work, and a booth photo of how one’s booth looks. Once the applications are all in a jury will review and score them. The highest scoring artists are accepted in the show.

It sounds so simple, but continues to mystify us artists as we apply to shows with our great work and don’t get it. WHY!? is always the question. Part of the answer is Booth Photo!

Jurying circa 2008

I recently had the opportunity to sit through a jurying for a show. I was not a juror but an observer.

What struck me and everyone else in the room was the poor quality of many of the booth photos. Many artists booth photos were just plain awful. Why did they waste their application fee by using such a poor quality booth image?

Well, actually many of us know.

Booth photos are a pain to get. We artists realize we need one in the dead of winter, as we are starting to fill out applications. Our booths are packed away and we try to figure out if we even took a photo of our booth last summer. Or do we have a decent shot from a few years ago, hopefully after we changed to our new work or redesigned our booth. Yeah, I have one...I remembered to take where is it?

This wasn’t a fussy jury. A simple shot of the booth as it would look at this show was all they wanted. It didn’t have to be professionally shot. For emerging artists or non-show artists images of their work as a grouping was acceptable.

Artists without a good booth image had handicapped themselves and their application. As artists we never want to give the jury a reason to say NO to our application. In many cases the artists had done just that with their poor booth image.

The Don'ts:
Images that did not show the artist’s work in situ. Booth images shot with camera phones, shot with the sun coming directly into the camera lens, out of focus, with a turned over coffee cup and other debris in the booth. Images of booths with art work totally unrelated to the work the artist was jurying. (What would they show up with if accepted or is that even their booth?) Booths with the side walls pulled back so only the blue porta potties show, not the artwork. A particular irritant to this group of jurors was the booth images with the names of the artists on the booth, despite the show’s prospectus asking that NO names be visible. Images with people in them, more often then not the artist, happily selling his/her work. Or so many people that one can’t see the booth. The jury saw one side of a booths, a partial corner, the grass and roof of the booth, while the artwork was hard to discern. Heavily photoshopped booth images, were commented on, and disparaged a bit for being too overworked. A screen capture of the home page of a website with an explanation to the jury why no booth photo, was not well-received. Neither were scanned images of photographs or slides, that looked dirty, dusty, and out of focus.

The Do's:
The booth had been cleaned up of misc debris, people, signage, names. The shot was clear, in focus, correctly exposed, and showed the jury how the artist’s work would present at the show. The photos shot at a shows were just as well received as those shot in a photog studio. The jury saw no need to set-up a special shot in a studio setting. The best ones showed similar work in the booth as was being juried.

Moral of this story:
We artists need to be out there shooting our booths all summer long to get the best booth image we can for next year’s round of applications. It is must, so juries can say YES to our applications.

Click for more info on booth photos from Larry Berman...


cmf-head-avatar Carla

HANG ON! Here they come.

We giggled as we headed south. Reading from the 2008 La Quinta Arts Festival info, I had come to the page-long set of directions on how we were to stake our canopy. Good grief, what retired engineer did they turn loose on the staking directions? Usually all the info artists are told is to stake or weight your tent appropriately. But La Quinta told us that we MUST HAVE, 3 foot rebar no smaller then 1/2" in diameter, pounded 30" or more into the ground, tape or pipe clamped or roped (with cotton rope, not plastic rope) to our canopy legs. Good grief, talk about overkill. But once there, we did as directed, pounding away and measuring to be sure we got our rebar deep enough. And still we giggled, in our know-it-all smugness.

Then came the high winds as only a desert can know. Oh man! They weren't a woofin' about high winds. Large paintings flew through the air off of panels, trash cans twirled and the trash redistributed itself around the show. Artists scrambled to secure art and displays, festival goers alternately ducked the flying debris, or helped artists retrieved flying displays, art, and hold on. But the canopies stayed put! Not one went tumbling through the air to take out another canopy, a festival patron, or undefended pottery.

Dave & I looked at each other as the wind chaos flowed around us. We both offered an apology and thanks to whoever devised the staking rules for La Quinta. It was brilliant!

As the summer went on we had a chance to look back at La Quinta's staking instructions with fondness. Our 2008 trip to the Des Moines Art Festival fell just after their 2008 floods, torrential rains, and HIGH winds. The winds were still fierce and our well-weighted canopy swayed as it tried to break free of the 40 lb weights plus! sandbags that sat on each corner.

On asphalt our rebar stakes were useless, so we watched our canopy scutch (a derivative of scoot) along

Sandbags & weights

the ground with each heavy gust, and we dutifully moved it back into place.  The show even evacuated the public for a couple of hours while winds blasted through it. Artists were told to button up and hang on.


And so the show season of 2008 went. Heavy winds, flying art, more weights added to canopy legs, one slightly damaged tent…. Summer weather, what a bother.

We hoped for calmer weather in 2009. So far its not been auspicious. The winds found us again at Scottsdale. But we were on asphalt again, no place to pound in stakes, and we knew our 160 lbs of weights might not be enough.

Before the winds came, one kind-clever artist spent much time with his power drill, and kneepads,  screwing his fellow artists' canopy legs into the asphalt.

Screwed in for safety

Walking the show on Sunday morn I was amazed at the inventiveness of artists in tying down their tents. When in danger invent!



Remind me again, why am I here?

Art Shows/Festivals are the inevitable end to months of production for art show artists. Some artists love 'em, some hate 'em. I love doing shows. I can't help myself. Hubby Dave has accused me of thinking each show is my personal block party, put on just for me to have fun with people.

Dave working, me gone visiting.....

I routinely disappear during set-up to greet friends, catch-up, laugh. While he is relatively tolerant of me waltzing off to visit instead of helping, he does ask I touch back in periodically to help.

But what's to love about shows?

Art shows are hard work, usually following weeks of long days in our studios. Shows are a strenuous 3 days of standing in all sorts of weather from blazing heat, to winter snow (it happened in Scottsdale, AZ), high winds-that can lift one's canopy and send it flying, torrential rains, bugs, dust, fumes, loud music, kettle corn smoke, etc are all to be endured.

Artists must pack up their precious work to get it safely to the show + they must also bring with them all the display apparatus, canopy, weights, stakes, credit card machines, packing materials, ground cover, nice clothes, food, and more. This gets stuffed into small vans, large vans, vans with trailers, trucks, trucks with trailers.

Time to set up.

Upon arrival at a show artists spend hours setting up their 10' x 10' retail space, setting out their art, arranging it. This requires schlepping all this from a van or truck, lifting, reaching, tugging, pulling, pounding, screwing, and sometimes painting....

Set-up in rain & wind at Des Moines 2008.

And then after long hours in the studio, a long drive, a long set-up we artists retire to a motel room to rest and get ready for day 1. We're exhausted.

But on show days we dress up in our clean clothes, slick our hair into shape, and try to remember how to be a salesperson, instead of a solitary artist.

We endure silly questions & comments, "Did you make this yourself?" "My niece does work just like this" "Its awful expensive, could you tell me where you get your supplies?," "What is it?" and try to smile and remember why we're here.

We get hungry, eat too much festival food, must use endless porta potties, our feet hurt, our backs hurt, we're tired, and often grouchy. This is no way to sell art, we think.

Then someone walks into our booth and starts talking about our work. Our head's rise and we realize this person "gets it." They understand what we are doing with our art, they love it, and they want to buy it.

A connection is made. I never know my end buyer when I create a new pair of earrings, but they are ever on my mind as I work. I consider how the earrings will hang in their ears, the comfort of a ring, how a bracelet will fit. And finally at the show, I get to meet these people, who I have had a silent dialog with as I create my jewelry.

It's a golden moment.

All the hard work, bad weather, funny food, lost sleep, is forgotten in the joy of connecting with people. Be it customers or fellow artists, I find art shows feed my soul as much as making my art.

Where'd she go this time?