She's baaaack . . . which must mean The Show Report!

Greetings from the ACC Baltimore Show, booth 3603!

Yes, technically it's all over but The Show Report . . .

Which is late. But since February 29 doesn't really exist, I think we can all just wink and call it on time. Anyway, I deserve to be a bit late...it was quite a week!

I've heard horror stories from the Baltimore dock, but things had always gone like clockwork for us.  This year, however, we were caught in round-and-round-the-block lines, and didn't get away from the dock until very late.

Which meant we only made it as far as Bedford, PA the first night . . . which meant a WHOLE LOT of driving on day 2.  But we finally made it home, and even managed to beat the impending ice storm.

(Read:  yesterday when she could have been blogging, she was instead napping.) 

But as for the show itself, a delightful time was had by all! 

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We saw some much-missed family and old friends who were kind enough to make the trek, and even made a few new friends.

The Baltimore show is a real beauty, and if you've never seen it, you should put it on your list.  The work is a visual feast, and there is just so much of it that it's hard to even process so many amazing and beautiful things/ideas/people in one place at one time. 

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wall three

The sales were disappointing, however.  Won't even try to spin that.  DISAPPOINTING.

 For some reason there just weren't enough people at the show for much of Saturday and Sunday.  And the people who were there were somehow less engaged than has been my experience at previous Baltimore shows.  In talking to other artists, I learned that I was not alone -- many had less-than-stellar shows as well, which made me feel bad for us all.  Once you know just how much work goes into doing a big show, you have a lot of empathy for everyone who does them.

As we sat in the never-ending dock line, Russ commented that he wished the people who attend shows could see any of what goes on before or after.  Not even including MAKING the work, which requires a whole lot of sweat and tenacity, heart and soul -- but the logistics of hauling it there, setting it up, and then sitting under the lights on the concrete floor being largely ignored for the weekend before tearing down and hauling it out again.

If people could see that process, they would likely not balk at prices or say insensitive things.  They would wonder that anyone does it.  

And all I can say about that is, the artists do it because they must.  Making is who they are, and the desire to share their creations is part of that.  For most of the exhibitors, they didn't choose fine craft -- it chose them.

Now, I'm going to take a direction that is a little different
from my usual for the rest of the report . . . 

Because people really said only nice things about my work -- within earshot, anyway -- which was lovely.

(There were a few funny moments of course, like the woman who said "Never mind about all this, I want to talk about your haircut.  Now THAT'S art!!" It gave me great pleasure to inform her that I paid $14.00 for it, to which she replied "O... M...G." very dramatically before leaving the booth with a piece of my chocolate.  People are funny.)

For this edition of Overheard at the Show --

I'm going to tell you two things I overheard while eating my lunch one day near the speaker's corner.  The ACC brought in fascinating speakers all weekend long, but I was only lucky enough to hear a small part of one presentation.  Unfortunately, I have no idea who the gentleman was that was speaking.  Even worse, I cannot tell you who he was quoting when my ears perked up and I really started to pay attention.  I only know it was a female artist from the 1960's, who said something like this:

You should never make something 
that anyone else in the world can make . . . 

I always make things that  
could only ever be made by ME.

I LOVED that idea!  It's something I already strive for in my work, and I think I succeed because the thing I hear most often is how unique my work is.  That's a blessing and a curse, of course -- it doesn't fit neatly on anyone's shopping list.  People don't go to shows looking for funky bright hand-stitched fiber art with a little philosophy and a lot of polka dots around the edges... but that's okay.

Because I am doing something I can do, in the way that only I can do it.  Or maybe in the only way I can do it.  Either way, it feels good.

The other thing the speaker said is that women continue to be woefully underrepresented in the visual arts. In the 1970's, the percentage of artists receiving one-person shows in galleries and/or hanging in museums who were female, stood at an unbelievable 2%.  TWO PERCENT. In the next 30 years, that percentage rose to a whopping 5%.  Inconceivable.  Truly.

Makes me want to stick around.

Live to create another day.  Even though a tough show can make me contemplate things like a job at Target, I believe it's important to keep doing what I do.

And anyway, like I tried to explain before . . . 
I don't think I really have a choice.



Leenie said...

Good for you for doing all you did to get where you are. Hooray for you for being a fine example of women in visual art. Maybe if this economy every pulls out of its nosedive the art that has chosen us will start earning its keep.

Julie said...

Right on! (as they used to say)

Art - because we can't "not art"

Michelle @ Periwinkle said...

Good post, I like the quote, and it makes me think. Also, a lot of times I make things because it is possible to make them, not because they are the things I really really want to make. It is tricky to figure out what direction to go some times.

Allie said...

I'm sorry the show was disappointing - I agree, folks need to see what goes into a show like this! Susan, I would love to see you in Ann Arbor MI, for the juried art fair. Largest outdoor show in the country I believe, and it's AMAZING. And I could come see you! And it's in summer - no snow!

5 percent - that's incredible. INCREDIBLE.

may said...

Largest outdoor show in the country I believe, and it's AMAZING. And I could come see you! And it's in summer - no snow!
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