Saturday, August 05, 2006

after the art fair

Ah, I'm home. That was absolutely great.

Okay, first the unsolicited advice for anyone considering putting their work in an arts and crafts fair:

  1. Invest in a canopy.
  2. Take at least two tables.
  3. Bring a lot of stuff.
I mean a lot, a lot, a lot. I must admit, I was a little dismayed to see how extraordinarily well prepared some of the artisans were for the event. Big beautiful circus-type tents, portable fans, elaborate displays of gems and polished woodworking items, lions jumping through hoops of fire, etc., etc.

My one table and homemade sign looked pretty meager in comparison. I felt like a five-year-old with a lemonade stand.

And the thing is -- it seemed like such a lot, in my living room. What happened between here and there?

There's also no accounting for what people are going to gravitate toward. My prints and engravings and notecards -- nothing. Crickets chirping distantly in the background.

My Model Magic fish and the Gallery Glass window art -- standing ovations.

People crossed the street just to touch the art. Mothers scolded their children immediately upon crossing the parameters: "Don't touch, DON'T TOUCH!"

This is the window art everyone seemed to love:

This one woman came up with her kids and looked at it, and looked at it, and looked at it some more, and finally her friend urged: "Why don't you buy it? Go ahead. You know you want to."

"I have to think about it," she said, and they walked away. I could sense her interest in the piece; it was palpable, hanging in the air over her head like a cartoon balloon.

But while she was gone (and of course I had no way of knowing she'd come back!) that very piece got bought. I had to inform her, sadly, when she returned looking about anxiously for it, that it had been appropriated.

"Figures," she said darkly.
"I'm sorry," I said, and I meant it. I was sorry.

So she bought the other butterfly piece: this one.

She handed me her money, saying to her I-told-you-so friend:

"I have to buy this, because if I don't, I'll always regret it."

I took the money and forgot to say thank you, so stunned was I by this compliment. How sweet the sound! Off she walked, holding the art proudly aloft like a vivid billboard. I watched my butterflies take flight with her with a catch in my throat.

Then I started thinking that I used to have a music box that always tripped on the eighth or ninth note; the song would just be launching when the needle would skip over some imperceptible warp in the brailled spool and the next note would warble out sort of scratchily, a little hesitant; it always made the song seem a bit more feeling, even though it invariably faltered in the same place every time.

That was the way I felt, just then. A bit more feeling, in a very familiar sort of way.*

I put the money away, smiling, making myself record everything about this particular moment in time for a mental snapshot to fix upon later. Further on down the block, a group of harmony singers crooned, "I Can't Help Falling In Love With You." Across the (blocked-off) street a group of girls practiced swishing pastel Hula Hoops in front of an ice cream shop. A small boy drew the letter "t" in orange chalk. A priest buying candles at a kiosk threw his head back and laughed out loud at something the salesgirl said.

I felt infected by his good humor; I looked up at the sky too.

When people like your work, say, so much as to actually buy it and take it home with them, you still rarely get to know why. What it was that reached in and affected them so much. To get that glimpse, to be afforded that luxury and realize you've brought joy or at least a feeling of contentment to someone else with your work alone; is, dare I say it, a truly amazing feeling.

*(This is where I stop to thank BVRNDWDS, Melonie and Laura for their kind support and patronage in making the long trek to the arts and crafts fair this afternoon and suffering the slightly hyper locutions of this very, very happy artist.)