Monday means . . . The Small Works Show Report!

Whew!  The whirlwind has settled and the piles of laundry and unopened mail are vying for attention with the empty refrigerator and the neglected dog.  It must mean that the show is over.
And, as always, I'm feeling a bit . . . *yawn . . . ready for a nap.

However, there's no time for napping because, before I forget everything I heard, I have to write

The Small Works Show Report!

It was a great experience, as always.  Ms. Fate felt compelled to bestow the SECOND cold of 2010 upon me just in time for opening day, which was a bit irritating (but hopefully she'll make it up to me by doing something unexpected and spectacular later in the year . . ?) and we definitely could have used more art-appreciators in the aisles on Saturday and Sunday afternoons, but all things considered, it was success.

The Booth . . . good ol' #502, St. Paul ACC Show 2010

You only have to do a show once to realize that artists may be the hardest working bunch of people on the planet.  There is no glamor, but there is plenty of grunt work.  First they pour all of their time, money and love into creating the work, then they schlep it all over the country in the smallest vehicle they can possibly wedge it into -- which they also sometimes sleep in!  (One artist I talked to, who made very large ceramic lamps -- with shades -- explained to me that he had brought all 73 of his lamps in his Honda Element, and wished he had made a you-tube video of the packing process, because it would surely have made him rich.)

They set up a booth that people may or may not come to look at.  Then they stand on a concrete floor for 3 or 4 days, hoping to make ANY connection that lets them know the way they're spending their lives is worthwhile. And at the end of the show they tear down until the wee hours of the morning, pack it all back into the vehicle, and drive home (sometimes for days)  hoping they have enough money to cover their VISA bill.

It's a grueling life, and I realize every moment I'm among them how very privileged I am not to be depending on my art to make my living. I create in the best of  all possible worlds. 

If you're a blogger who writes a feature called 
"Overheard at the Show" after each exhibit, 
then the best thing that can happen to you is this:  

You pick up your lunch tray and head to an empty table near the back of the room.  At the table behind you is a group of people and because the room isn't busy (since you've worked well past lunchtime) you can hear every word of the conversation that is going on.  And what is the group talking about ? . . . . YOUR WORK!

Yes, it was a strange twist but true -- I think the woman doing most of the talking would have died of embarrassment had she realized I was the other person in the room, but everything she said was so very kind and the consensus was that if they had the money, it would have been spent in my booth.  That's just about the best kind of "overheard" there is.  Rewarded for my ill-mannered eavesdropping!  It's fun to hear someone describing your work behind your back.  (I'm sure it's not ALWAYS fun, but in that particular instance it definitely was.)

But some of my other favorite "overheards" didn't have anything to do with my work.  I heard one emotional exchange in the aisle near my booth that made me laugh right out loud.  The woman said  (or rather yelled, and with clenched fists),

"Those DAMN raincoats!
Those DAMN raincoats! . . . 
DAMN those raincoats!
BUT I'M TELLING YOU --  I . . . WILL . . . NOT!"

(I wanted to suggest to her that her mental state might improve if she would just succumb to the darling but obviously evil coats and take one home, but instead I just tried not to fall off the stool I was perched on.)

Another favorite I heard was an observation from the somewhat curmudgeonly artist in the next booth, who explained to me that "If it has a stroller, it doesn't have money.  So I don't need it in my booth."  Ouch.  It was harsh but pretty funny, and you have to forgive the artists for sometimes getting a little cranky. (see paragraphs 3-4, above) 

And then there was the statement, "Who knew all of the world's chenille needs could be satisfied in just one room?"  (If you've been to a fine craft show lately, you'll know that the proliferation of boxy chenille jackets can be a bit overwhelming.  Although they are beautifully crafted.)
With the exception of the usual "Oh cute -- for kids!" comments that no show would be complete without, all the conversation in my booth this year was the kind that made me want to hurry back to my studio and keep stitching.  People were unbelievably supportive, and the smile after smile after smile that I observed warmed me to the tips of my toes.  I guess it was best summed up by the woman who turned to me while leaving my booth and said,

"These pieces make the world a better place.  
Thank you for making them." 

That's just about the nicest thing anyone can say to you on a Sunday afternoon, and I wanted to shout it out in turn to all of the hard-working artists who spread beauty as they traipse across the globe, often with very little reward for what they so freely offer.

To everyone who participated in the A.C.C. St. Paul show this weekend, thank you.  Surely a weekend spent surrounded by beautiful creations generously shared could only enrich the lives of all involved. 

And now, everybody back to work.


Daryl said...

Susan, what a beautiful summary of the 10 years I spent on the road doing craft fairs. I completely understood and identified with every line of the post. Now I fly around the country teaching my craft, and the pay is only slightly better, but I still wouldn't trade what I do for the world...

luanne said...

It all sounds pretty overwhelming to me, but I'm glad there are artists like you willing to do it, so the rest of us have great shows to go to.

"These pieces make the world a better place. Thank you for making them."

I'll second that!

Amelia and Justin said...

You work does make the world a better place.

On a side note, I really like the Sky Song pieces on black...what do you think?

susan m hinckley said...

Yes, I was much happier with how they looked in the black booth, but I'm still not sure they can live in the booth with my other work. It's wonderful that they attract a slightly different audience, but also a little problematic in some ways. I'd really like to see that series move to a gallery, which is something I can hopefully arrange to have happen.

And thanks for the nice words, y'all!

Karen S said...

I had to laugh at the eavesdropping thing -- I've been lucky with that too. It can be a big boost. I try to keep that in mind whenever I'm at a show and discussing the artwork -- you never know who's listening...

april said...

fun frame on the "reach" piece. (what an amazing piece BTW!) adore your sky song pieces too, and just about everything else. i'll quadruple (?quintuple if we count the first man) it: your work does indeed make the world a better place.

very interesting challenge to do something creative for 365 days. how many failed attempts are we allowed??! that doll exhibit does sound amazing.

susan m hinckley said...

The thing is, April, a new year starts every day. Because I started my personal challenge on something like March 26 (?) but April 20 would have worked just as well. So theoretically, you could start over every day!

Please let me know if you decide to do something -- I think sharing your commitment with someone else always helps strengthen it in these things. Except in the case of dieting, where I need a better commitment partner than my husband because shortly after we commit we always have our hands in the guacamole bowl together again. Hmmm . . .

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