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Tuesday, February 17

the windows of artspace

I'm one of those voyeur types who is fascinated by the windows of other lives. Not sure why, but I am drawn to undraped windows, by people who light up their rooms like a diorama for the world to see. You can imagine whole life stories based on how they hang the artwork or what kind of lamps are lit. Even tiny clues are fun to ponder. A purple glass moon hanging on a thread from a window lock. Tulips in a jar on a windowsill.

So, when we stopped for gas the other afternoon, across from the many-windowed facade of Artspace, it was pretty natural for me to grab the camera and try to capture vignettes. Who would have more intersting windows than artists?

What do the little hints reveal about the people inside? One looks like it has little stickers all over it. A child's room? How cool for a kid to live in an "artist colony". Are those little prayer flags?

I love that there are paintings propped up, facing the street. Look at me, they say.

Most likely, my imagination gives more color to the unseen lives inside than reality. But it's fun to picture, to make up a whole story based on the silhouette of a lamp.

Friday, February 13

and then you wait

After you google maps to see how close some of your friends live to the site, and you take a deep breath because at least they are safe, you wait. Wait for the reason a plane falls out of the sky. Wait for the list of names, a list with "many locals" on it. Wait for the next jolt.

Trite, but true, that "can't believe it happened here" feeling. So many times, tragedy after tragedy, watching the footage of strange neighborhoods in strange towns, dealing with the unexplainable. A safe distance between you and "them". But there are no strange names in the news this morning. No safe distance.

Life twists and turns and hands you surprises. An old friend in a ticket line, a big, red dog bed in front of the fire, a letter with good news, a sudden illness, a plane falling out of the sky, finding a child's long ago drawing of blue penguins.

It's all of a piece, I'm thinking. Pieces of a life, patched together. Light and dark. Joy and loss.

Things to ponder while you wait.

Tuesday, February 10

disturbing trend

When I first started doing art and craft shows about a dozen years ago, it was unusual for the organizers to require advance payment. If they did, I'd shine it on. It irritated me and made me feel not so good about the show.

Why? Well, come along with me and walk a bit in my glue spattered shoes.

First, let me do away with some urban legends. Contrary to what you may hear, most art show artists are not "rolling in it" and we do actually "work". A lot. For many, the business is seasonal and dependent on big things like the economy and the weather as well as small things like booth location. Every year is a crap shoot. There are no guaranteed pay days in this business.

So, with that out of the way, let's talk about my growing irritation with show organizers and the trend toward paying "upon receipt of application" instead of "upon acceptance". Well, actually, the phrasing says it all. They want my money, paid in full, while they consider whether or not I will actually be accepted into their show. This often takes months. Meanwhile, they have hundreds of my dollars, dollars I cannot use for supplies or taxes or other show applications. If I do not get accepted, that money was "spent" on nothing but padding the bank accounts of show promoters. Multiply this by a dozen shows, and now we're into thousands of dollars I have invested in show futures.

I am not a gambling woman.

Now, I could possibly accept this practice if they would simply shorten the time between application and notification. But the wait is usually months. A show I applied to in January will notify me in April. My $200 waits in their bank account until then. What are they doing during that time? I dunno. Enjoying collecting interest on the hard earned money of artists, I'm thinking. Oh sure, if I am denied, they will send me a refund. Gee. Thanks. Now that it's too late to apply for another show, maybe I'll do something frivolous with the money. Like, buy food?

I have tremendous respect and gratitude toward the shows that take your jury fee now, let you know within a reasonable amount of time whether you have been accepted, and then collect payment on a date previously specified. How civilized. How respectful.

You need the money early to finance the show? No prob. Have your jury set to go 2 weeks after the deadline and get the results out to us within a week. How hard can that be? I mean, you know that you will be having a jury, so let them know in November what the date is. If your deadline is, oh, January 10th, Tell them to be there on January 24th. That gives you 2 whole weeks to get your PowerPoint presentation or your slide show ready for them. Have your jury party, choose your artists, insert their names into the "to" part of the letter you have all nicely done up in your computer and send them out. By my calculation, you will then have been sitting on my $200 for just a month and THAT I can tolerate. What you are doing between January and April, now that confuses me.

Well, that's my rant for the season. I've ranted about this before. It just gets worse. I got out the application for a late Summer show this morning and saw that they , also, now want my money in advance.

I'm just glad the suppliers I use aren't asking me to deposit a thousand bucks with them just in case I decide to buy stuff. That could get scary. But that wouldn't happen. Because, you see, in the real world, when something has a price, and you pay it, you get something back. Period. They don't say they'll get back to you, let you know if you can actually have the item you paid for. That would be silly. That would be nuts. That would be outrageous!

That would be show fees.

Monday, February 2

is it just me?

These things just rattle around in my head, keeping me awake when I'm trying to nap.

How do we know the rodent saw his shadow? Does he point at it and shriek? Sniff it? Try to mate with it? What? A few old guys in top hats stand around a rabbit hole, looking officious, and declare yay or nay. I'm not sure what's worse. Old guys channeling the intimate thoughts of groundhogs or having every major media outlet covering it.

Super Bowl commercials cost a gazillion dollars and the best of what we get is raunchy adolescents fantasizing about naked race car drivers, breast implants, nailing your boss with a snowglobe to the nachos, men injuring each other with macho things like bowling balls and one for flowers that insults women in all their vulnerable places. Really? Who is the target demographic here? 16 year old boys? I got news for you. They are not going to spend money on your product. They're too busy trying to find naked pictures of ....anyone. I say next year all ads should be written by and for women. We watch the game, too, you know. We have senses of humor. Really. We spend money and you don't have to get naked for us. Really.

Why is my puppy afraid of dogs? He IS a dog.

If you know the answers to any of these things, please let me know. I need sleep.

Sunday, February 1

taking a pass

So, yesterday I was supposed to bring stuff in for the Decorator Show House. I was pleased to be invited again, and I decided that this time I would follow through. That was 2 months ago.

Then my sweet dog died and I was busy crying all the time. The weather turned to the Arctic channel and my studio could be used to store meat. If we ate meat. I had 2 important shows to get apps out for and I made new stuff for that. I actually got my web site up and running. I was working 3 days a week at the theater. Then, in a moment of weakness, encouraged by people who love me and wanted me to stop crying, we got a new puppy.

Even with all that, I intended to get things made for the Show House. I did. It was going to be fun and I had plans to meet up with one of my favorite friends after the jury setup for coffee. Then I got sick. Oh, not tragically sick, just a flu/cold. The kind that makes you look at life with squinty eyes, causes your ears to ring so loudly you miss phone calls, puts a tickle in your throat that makes going to the movies a bad idea. Piffle. Still gonna do it. Even when the tickle turned to a wheeze and then a rumble, still gonna do it. I had a whole day.

I decided to take a short nap, recharge, and spend a few hours in the studio getting things together. Remember, in my life, procrastination is an art form. I curled up under a comforter in the afternoon sun and woke up, almost 4 hours later, in the dark.

Surrender. You win, life. Hot tea with lemon and honey coming up. Emailed my friend and rescheduled coffee. Bless her, she offered to schlepp my stuff in for me, but I told her I just couldn't make it happen.

It's a conversation I've had with folks in this business over the years. Creativity-v-necessity. Can a creative person lock themselves in a room and just "make it happen" by force of will? I don't think so. I have to go to the studio with anticipation and a brain that is churning or it is a disaster. I've tried scheduling my work. I've tried just sitting at the table in a Zen mood, waiting for inspiration. I've tried spending an hour doing routine "grunt' work, like cutting and hinging book board or just making covers. That's too much like a job. But when I'm having fun and both sides of my brain are awake, I can stay up there for hours and make things that I'm proud of.

So, I have learned to accept that I work my way, in my time, at my pace. I would probably be more successful if there was some self-discipline thrown into that equation, but then I might as well go back to government work. Many well-meaning people have offered suggestions about how I could/should handle this little business of mine. But, you know, the keywords are business of mine. For better or worse, richer (hah) or poorer (more likely), this little shop is mine.

Come May when friends are reaping the benefits of a lucrative gig at the Show House, I'll be attempting to lubricate these old joints well enough to actually kick myself. I know that. But this morning, with a puppy whimpering for attention, a head and chest stuffed with cotton, a warm bed beckoning me to return for more comfort, I'm taking a pass.

And waiting for inspiration.