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.)

cmf-head-avatarCarla

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....

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 pieces.....now 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










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.

wind-damage-at-desmoines-08

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!

Carla

cmf-head-avatar

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?