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

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