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Monday, June 30

auntie em! auntie em!

So, we set up for Roycroft on Friday night and woke up Saturday morning to the sound of thunder, pouring rain and lightning like strobes. Oh, lovely. I pictured our canopy twisted into a pretzel, but the weather cleared and when we got to the site, all was well. Damp, but well.

The shoppers came and stayed, ducking into our canopies when the passing showers hit, but it was a good day.

Sunday started great with a brunch for the artists on the terrace of the Copper Shop

Nothing makes an srtist happier than free food. And this was free GOOD food!

All the omens were good. But they lied. Mid-day a storm started to roll in. The art show early warning system that is made up of exhibitors scooting from booth to booth with alarmed expressions, listening to cell phones, updating what just happened 10 miles away was in full force. I started zipping up the booth sides to protect our display which was just starting to look almost the way I wanted

That was a mistake because it wasn't rain that hit, it was wind. That zippered wall became a wind powered battering ram that hit the shelves and tossed them as if they were weightless, right against my back and legs. They are not weightless, I am here to tell you. Friends from all the adjoining booths came running to help, leaving their own tents unguarded against the storm.

I love these people. Love them.

They helped Russell stack the pieces while I went to check for open wounds. When I came back, the lovely booth was rather unlovely

and the shoppers had apparently gone to the north east corner of any available basement

But we soldiered on, in rather reduced circumstances..

It was sad to have such a fine show end like that. I squished back and forth on our soaked rug, sighed, checked my stuff for damage, sighed, started packing up. And then I went to wrap a mirror that had been taken down and propped up off the water soaked pavement and saw this little bit of accidental beauty..

Maybe it wasn't an accident. Maybe it was a wink and a nudge from the universe. Or from the mischievous art show gods that like to test us with a mini tornado every so often but send us the occasional rainbow to keep us out there.

Friday, June 27

just don't look up

It's been almost 2 years since the "October Storm" that damaged or destroyed more than 80% of the city's trees. It was a night of incredible devastation.

I remember my first glimpse of Bidwell Parkway, where the Farmer's Market pictures were taken. Instead of a the little city forest it had been, it was acres of sticks. Trees with few limbs left, only the largest had survived. Russell said that it wouldn't look as bad once the leaves came out...if they did. And he was right. Walking under the trees, you feel the shade, see the green, hear the soft rustle of leaves in the breeze. All seems well until you look up.

And I realize we have become accustomed to the new landscape. Where there used to be avenues lined with umbrellas of green, now there are sticks of green. Our trees look unruly now, with limbs akimbo and leafy top knots that grow defiantly out of the center with little regard for how things used to be.

Memories of that storm will soften as the years go by. All the stories have been told, all the pictures have been shared.The emergency kits that everyone seemed to get for Christmas that first year are gathering dust.

But the trees will never forget. They still have stories to tell. To hear them, all you need do is look up.

Wednesday, June 25

rain date

When I first started doing outdoor shows, I would obsess about the weather. You can get a forecast 30 days in advance now, and I would google every service to see what they were predicting. A bad forecast would churn my stomach. And I never believed the good ones.

Oh sure, I'd mutter at the TV/computer/radio. You say it will be a good weekend, but you guys are never right.

Now I'm a bit more Zen about these things. People do come out in the rain, In fact, the prevailing wisdom is that true shoppers come out and the dog walkers and stroller brigades stay home. That may be true, but it's still best to have a diverse, festive crowd.

The forecast for this weekend:


Makes me remember the Syracuse show last year. It seems to always rain at some point during the Syracuse show. If it's a downpour, the crowd disperses and you pull your curtains down to protect the artwork. You wait it out, hoping the canopy doesn't cave in or spring a leak.

Then you hope that all those people who disappeared in a flash are waiting it out in a restaurant or something and will reappear as magically. Often they do, and the show goes on.

We are a hardy bunch up here in Western New York. Takes more than a rain storm or some snow flakes to scare us off.

That's what I'm counting on.

Saturday, June 21


A beautiful Summer Saturday, no show to set up, a dog hungry for canine companionship...we checked out the neighborhood farmer's market. ..

Russ and Jake meet up with friends, Victory and Frank, while music played in the park behind them.

There were booths of fruit and flowers

and organic veggies

There was some clowning around

and a fiddler...on the roots? *groan*

How about a "peace" of cake.....

.from this bake sale?

It was a play day..

A day to chill and soak up the sun and be content in the company of friends..

A friend writes a blog called "rurality". I guess this is "urbanality" ,

City it.

and now back to the attic.

early bird

I love morning. It's fresh. I like the angle of the sun and the way it dapples the street through the trees. Later, it will be higher in the sky and not quite so gentle. It makes me think of art show mornings and why I like them so much. The artists are setting up in the new light. There is that morning smell of grass and dew mixed with coffee and the aroma of onions frying.

Behind the tents, there is joking and moaning and laughing and bitching. Bagels are unwrapped. I like the 2nd day best. When you unzip the back of your booth and step into your personal little piece of the world. Quiet. Welcoming. I never felt that way walking into my office in the morning when I had a "real" job. I like the empty streets with the booths waiting for the fun to begin. It's like theater when the patrons are seated and the cast is in place behind the curtain and the conductor lifts the baton. Anticipation.

Soon enough the people will come and fill the streets. We will watch them from our perches inside or beside our booths, hoping they slow down, step in and see something they like. That's what was nice about the "real" job. If you did what was expected, you got paid. No such guarantee in this business. You can work your heart out and still not make enough to pay the mortgage.

It all depends on them. The people who fill the streets.

In the early morning, it all seems possible.

Tuesday, June 17

Allentown favorites

Favorite customers: Most favorite was the young girl, maybe 11 or 12, reed thin with silky long hair, wearing an oversized t- shirt that read "If I were 18 I'd vote for Obama". A huge Obama button was pinned to the hem of the shirt which came to her knees. She selected a journal and told me she always bought my books and was glad to find me. Then she informed me, with a serious expression, that she went to a lot of these shows and I was almost her favorite artist. "Definitely in the top 3", she declared. Loved her. Another sweet pre-teen girl who buys my books "all the time" told me I should make them fatter because she fills them up right away.

We should be able to adopt our customers.

Favorite colleague moment: We were set up next to a couple that we have come to know over the years from doing a lot of the same shows. Early on the second day I was taking pictures of my booth before the show started. She came and stood beside me, chatting and joking. And then she told me that she had watched my work evolve over the years and she was really impressed by how far I had come. She went into detail about color and composition. It was praise from a peer and you can't overstate how much that means. I gave her a big hug and told her so. Made my day. Heck, it made my year!

Favorite legal argument: A woman who set up on the steps of a house across from us to play her drum and chant and sell meditation DVD's was being shagged away because she didn't have a permit to sing and sell. I'm usually in favor of letting people express themselves as long as they aren't offensive, but you know, the Hare Krishna chant only has about 3 variations, none of them particularly distinguishable from another, so by the time the cops came to silence her bongos, I was rather ready for her to gather her robes and go. We had already dealt with a building alarm that rang nonstop for hours in the morning, but that at least was on key. She lost her serenity after debating her rights with the police for quite a while, finally shouting "Every time you've told us to move today, we moved!" I sensed an inability to comprehend.

Favorite lunch: Chicken salad and dressed field greens from Cafe 59.

Sometimes it's the little things.

Monday, June 16

Allentown, the real story

The real story is that the Allentown Village Society runs their show like a boot camp and I, for one, actually appreciate it. They enforce the rules with a zero tolerance policy that many find oppressive. Not me. I read the contract. I follow the rules. I do what I am told. I will be a good, rule-following exhibitor and they will provide me tons of customers, a controlled environment and the opportunity to participate in a well-respected art festival. Works for me.

Buffalonians come out in droves for this show. Not all are there to buy. Some are there to watch the other people and to eat at the restaurants and meet up with friends. It is the start of Summer.

Weather was great, I had terrific "neighbors", many friends came by to see me, a friend in the neighborhood threw a huge open house party that I was able to sneak off to for an amazing lunch. It was a good weekend.

Ever wonder what goes on behind those white canopies that line the streets during an art show? Well, here's the real story:

Hey, art shows are hard work!

Next favorite customers and encouraging words from a fellow art gypsy.

Sunday, June 15

overheard at Allentown

I'll write about the show for real tomorrow, but about 5 or 6 of us got to laughing today about the things customers say. It started when I told them the story of the woman Saturday who was helping her son pick out one of my miniature book pins as a teacher gift. They were debating colors and stuff and her son said "that one" and the woman said, no, that one was ugly.

I was standing beside her. Me, the person who was responsible for unleashing ugly on the world.

So, I joked and said "Oh now, you don't mean ugly, just not as nice as the others" he ha ha

"No" she said, stone-faced. "It's ugly"

Alrighty then. I'll be over here in the corner whimpering.

This started a flurry of stories...artists poking out from the backs of their canopies to join in.

"Do you have any more of these in the back?"
"Well, actually, we don't have a 'back'. Everything is one of a kind."
"Well, do you have 6 of this kind??"

"You make these yourself?"
"Yes, I do"
"Yes, are you surprised?"
"Yeah, you don't look talented"

"Do I get a discount if I buy two?"
"No, It isn't any faster for me to make two than one"
"But it's faster to sell two at a time"

"Can I get an end-of-show discount on this?
"It's only noon."
"Yeah, noon of the last day"
"No, sorry, I still have time to sell them"
"Well, lotsa luck. I'll be back at 6"

Good times.

It was a good show. Details tomorrow. My feet are so swollen it looks like I'm wearing little hams on my feet.

Ah, the glamour of the art business.

Friday, June 13


I was dashing, dashing, running, muttering, usual pre-show chaos when the voice on the NPR station broke into my thoughts with the news. He was reading a list of accomplishments of someone and I thought "sounds like Tim Russert" and I stopped cold with my hand on the back door knob thinking:"Don't say it, don't say it"...but he did. Gone at 58, this family man, honorable man, Buffalo's favorite son.

I am so very sad. Never met you. Felt like I knew you, though.

You were so proud of your hometown and we were so proud of you.

The saddest thing is that you won't be here for the election. No white board with "Florida" scrawled on it. How you would have loved to see this historic race play out. Maybe you will. We mortals don't know everything.

Good rest, Mr. Russert. Your life was well-lived. We will miss you.

Thursday, June 12

split personality

Upstairs to the studio, basement for the laundry, kitchen to load the dishwasher, back to the studio, shower for work, 3 hours at the theater feels like a vacation, home to the studio, watch TV while putting cards in their plastic jackets, up tp bed where I count things to do in the morning instead of sheep, up at 5:30 for 2 coffees before up to the studio again, on and on. 36 hours until Allentown and I am suffering split personality disorder. Next I'll be collaging the glasses, putting books in the dishwasher and trying to sell "Wicked" tickets to the mailman.

In honor of this phenomenon, I present to you the poster for this year's Allentown Art Festival. Looks just like me.

Back to the studio. Or am I supposed to be in the shower? What day is it?

Sunday, June 8


Took a break this afternoon and caught the Gay Pride parade. We are often at shows when the parade happens so I was happy to be free to see it. The main route is jut 2 blocks away, so we grabbed out cameras and went.

As always, the parade was colorful. A celebration and a message. Pride and frustration. Humor and defiance. Music. Drums. Cheers. Laughter. Every year the parade gets longer. The Mayor marched. Police led the way. Rainbow flags were on the lamposts.Could it have happened like this even 20 years ago?

The whole albums of photos can be found over there in "photos" ----> under "parade"

I love a parade. Especially parades that celebrate love. A fine way to spend a sunny Sunday afternoon.

Thursday, June 5

musical note

We were packing up at Kenan. So was the band. They had wonderful music all weekend. The stage was in the center of the venue, close to our booth, so we got to really enjoy it. I usually hate having music right near me at a show because it is often too loud, but not this weekend. As the last day came to a close, the venue was pretty empty and we got to step out and really enjoy them. It was then we finally applauded a bit and one of the guys said "Wow! That doesn't happen often". Made me realize that even though the musicians are right there, we process them as background. So we all made an attempt to clap like crazy after every song from then on. :) The guys loved it.

Anyway, as I'm packing, one of the musicians stopped in and said he had wanted to get a journal for his daughter but it was gone. Could he go through the ones that were left? Of course. We just packed up around him. He picked one out and asked how much it was and I asked if he would accept it as a gift from me, in appreciation of the entertainment he had provided for the last few hours. (I am not telling this story so that you can think what a super person I am. I'm telling it because of what came next.)

Truth: He clasped the book to his chest and said, with an expression one would use if the gift I had just given him was a 47inch plasma TV, "Really??Are you serious?" I told him I certainly was and I said again how much we had enjoyed them and that he had given me a much bigger gift than I had just given him. He got misty. He shook my hand. Then he hugged me. Told me I would never understand how much that meant.

Now, I will admit to you that I am a very emotional person. I cry at every movie I go to. I start when the Pepsi is dancing with the popcorn. I am no stranger to emotion, but I was surprised by him. I thought maybe it was the heat.

And then he said "You study and practice for years and then you wonder if anyone ever really hears you".

OK, that choked me up just now. See?

The point I'm making here is this. Next time you are at an event with real musicians making real music in the background somewhere, stop. Look at them. Listen. Applaud. Smile.

Let them know you hear them.

Tuesday, June 3


Not all happy news this weekend. The show I did last year in Oregon has me on the wait list. I need to tell them if I want to be there or not. They say I probably won't know whether they have a spot for me until a few days before the show.

Now I have not totally lost whatever good sense I had left. We do not drive 2500 miles and back to do a 2 day festival. All the kids are out there. Russell's 3 are in Oregon where the festival is and my son is in the San Juan Islands off the coast of Washington. We spend September there.

I've had mixed feelings about doing this show, although it is a really nice one. I was unprepared for how big it was and we pretty much ran out of product by early the 2nd day. The youngest, Max, is traveling with us this year. He is flying out and then doing the road trip back with the old folks. The show would have most likely paid for our gas at least, but the van would have been crowded for Max and Jake the Wonder Dog. If we are not schlepping our show stuff, they each get a row in the van to stretch out. I really want this trip to be special for Max. How often do you get to travel with the kids once they've grown?

I guess I will respond that if they can let me know by the end of July, I'll stay on the list. If I don't hear from them, I'll figure out another way to pay for the gas. Like mortgage the house or hijack an armored car.

Monday, June 2

99 american craftsmen and me

What a great weekend. Most of my favorite art show cronies do this show and, since it is the first one of the year, it is like a reunion or something. Dayna's grandaughter is walking, Leah and Ken both took nasty falls this Winter but are fine now, Cheryl is still excited about Obama, Linda and her daughter are doing Chautauqua when we are and will try to get a room at the same motel that weekend, Marsha gave up on the long, straight hair thing and got a great cut. And so it goes. Friends who come together 6 times a year or so but feel like they were just together last week.

I will admit to being very fond of the Kenan Center and the shows they host twice a year. When I am lucky, I get to do both. They bookend my season. It's not just the beauty of the house and grounds, it is the organization of the shows and how they promote and run them. No, it's not all perfect, but in this business of art, it is one of the best.

There were few disasters. Our booth went up in record time, we left nothing home that required a quick u-turn, I brought enough change. These are big accomplishments in my world. Some of my favorite customers came to see me and buy stuff. I saw friends and relatives. The exhibitors around us were fun and didn't do any weird stuff like play loud country music or encroach on my space or have whispered arguments I had to pretend not to hear.

All in all, 2 1/2 lovely days. Chalk one up for art show over desk job.

I wanted to have pictures, but the ones I took were really pretty bad. Next show. Allentown. For sure there will be interesting photos from that one.

Now I just have to make enough stuff...again..with not much time to do it...again.

I live for stress.