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Thursday, May 22

looking for luck in all the wrong places

OK, so in my ongoing, one-woman crusade to bring sanity to the art show world (a thankless job, but needs to be done), let's look at yet another little doo-dad that manages to worm its way into many art/craft shows despite the fact that it is not crafted and it certainly isn't art.

Lucky Bamboo.

Yes, I see you hanging your head, hoping I don't see you out there. You bought some, didn't you? Couldn't resist the curly little stalks and what if it DOES bring luck? Right? Besides, it was so cheap and it came in a pot/glass/crock/bucket/vase/cup! Sigh.

For the unititiated (and, apparently unlucky), this is lucky bamboo:

I know. Takes your breath away. Actually, the stalks are usually sold in bunches of 3-4 or more, so the display of botanical artistry is not quite as pathetic as the picture would have you think. Almost, but not quite.

Now here's the thing. You don't just pull up your van on the morning of an art show and set up a table. There are requirements. There are standards. There are rules like "must be made by the artist". Slides are submitted. Artist "statements" written. Description of process is a biggie. What do the purveyors of botanical totems submit? Hmmm...

"The lucky bamboo pictured in the enclosed slides is grown in my home garden, under a handcrafted pergola covered in handwoven cane, harvested by me wearing a handcrafted caftan of fibers gathered on my sheep farm and handwoven on my loom. I trim the plants according to established artistic protocol, utilizing traditional standards of form and symmetry. Then I stick them in a 50 cent vase from Wal-Mart"

Or something like that. The reality is that the stalks are 42 cents wholesale and vendors sell them with a 500% markup and people buy them like crazy. I know. These silly things are fun to buy at festivals I get that. What I don't get, and never will, is why I have to jump through hoops with essays and slides when the bamboo-zlers (thanks to Conard for the play on words) somehow qualify to exhibit next to me.

OK, end of sermon and confession time. I bought lucky bamboo last year. At the Kenan Christmas show. (if you live within 2 hours of upstate NY, this is not to be missed).Now, granted, what I was really buying was the beautiful hand-etched glass vase it came in. But it looked pretty on the tiny table by my bed, under the collection of B&W photos by John Parasack. It pleased me. But it did not please our resident art critic, who promptly removed the offending stalks from the pretty vase, stripped the leaves and left the stalks to wither. I think I need to have a talk with said critic, since, contrary to what he thinks, he does not rule the house.

He doesn't look worried.

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