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?

Holey Moley Cows!

We live in Oregon's outback. Our part of Oregon is desert filled with juniper, sage, lizards, coyotes. Its not the soggy wet green zone most people picture when they think of Oregon. We love it. It has sun, huge skies, open spaces. We live far from a town, where no one drops by for a cup of coffee and a chat. Trips to town are planned for maximum efficiency in use of time and gas. Errands-to-do can be an all day event. Daily, as weather permits this time of year, the hubby and I ride our bikes for exercise and the sheer joy of it. We have miles of rural roads to ride populated by horses, cows, piggies, sheep, goats, irrigation canals, sagebrush, & juniper.bike-ride-road2

It is a place designed for peace and quiet, an artist's dream spot that offers long contemplative time periods for creating art with no interruptions....or so it would seem.

Thursday was a "still good" Fall day and we wanted to get in a ride before winter descends on Oregon's high desert. The husband-Dave was way ahead of me-so I can ride alone, while we can still do it together. The sky was alternately grey and blue and white, sunny and shady, and I was in my happy place.

As I passed a group of cows all hung together waiting for whatever cows wait for, I heard a metallic thumping. I stopped, remembered to to unclip my feet, and went to investigate. A cow was in a round water trough, totally upside down, head bent to the side, FULLY TURTLED, flailing with her legs. The trough fortunately had very little water in it so she was wet but not in danger of drowning. Good grief! How do cows figure out how to do these things?

Only a man with a tractor was going to unstick this lady and I knew it was far from feeding time. The rancher wouldn't find his cow until early evening and I didn't think she'd last that long.

Our area has many small ranches but most of the people who work them also have town jobs to pay the bills. Would I find anyone home to help StuckCow?

Looking at my disappearing husband's back I turned to find the most likely home of the cow's owners. I pedaled to a ranch house knocked, yelled, looking for a helpful human. As I looked back to the road I could see Dave had now doubled back and was pedaling like a soul-possessed looking for me. I yelled but he was too far to hear me. I took off after him but realized he was too far gone for me to catch and I returned to the hapless cow.

I needed help and my helper was gone in search of me. I flagged down a pick-up and asked the man to: 1st catch my husband and 2nd go to the little local store and tell them about the cow and hopefully they would know how to reach the owner.

I went to comfort StuckCow and let her know I wouldn't leave her until her legs pointed down. She flailed her thanks. Dave returned, panting, happy I wasn't in a ditch with feet still clipped in.

We decided he would continue on trying to find someone home and I would stay with StuckCow. I gave her a pat on one of her upright legs as Dave pedaled off. But I couldn't just stand there. I flagged down the next pick-up that passed. We again conferred on a solution. He knew the owner and would call.

I went off after Dave. What a fun day of cycling we were having! Dave too, had found the owner and the rancher with tractor was coming to unstick his cow.

Bouncing down a dirt road, with bucket raised the rancher and his tractor made his way into the  pasture. StuckCow stopped flailing and listened. The other cows who had gathered around to offer their support parted to let him get in position. He wrapped a huge chain around StuckCow's neck hooked it to the bucket on his tractor and yanked her to her feet. Once on her feet she bounded out of the trough, stood long enough for the chain to be removed, and moved quickly away while giving the trough a long dirty look. Problem solved.chargrined-stuck-cow1

How does a cow get turtled in a water tank? Most likely she was going for a drink and some cow friend came up behind her and accidentally bumped her into it. I pictured a cow doing a full somersault landing on her back. It happens the rancher said, but not often. And yes, a full day of laying upside down most likely would have meant "hamburger" for that cow. She now lives to graze some more.

Dave & I pedaled off, happy to have helped SC, and happier to live in such a wonderful place to bike.

Friends ask what I do all day. No one to interrupt my work-we live too far away, no Starbucks, exercise gyms, places to shop. We must have an inordinate amount of time to get things done. But still we're behind just like everyone else is. Too many things to do, too little time. I dunno why. Life just seems to fill my days up, despite my best of plans.

Carla