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Tuesday, August 3

Downtown Syracuse-the friends

So, I had sort of given up on this show but then an artist friend said I should apply and stay with her and her husband and we would have fun and I couldn't resist.

A word or 2 about my friend, Elizabeth. She is an amazing artist who somehow prints her beautiful drawings using copper plates and acid and all sorts of stuff she showed me and I still can't wrap my head around. Plus it all has to be done backwards. The mind reels. This is hers:

One of my favorites. Elizabeth's art is populated by fairies, mice and elephants at work, winsome children, moons and stars brought to life. You are drawn into her world and you want to stay there. She also write poems and fairy tales. Delightfully. I "knew" her before I knew her because I was always drawn to her art and sometimes could actually buy it. We became familiar to her and then, once we started doing the same shows, a friendship developed, slow and sure.

Another couple was also invited. Lynne and Rich. They do beautiful botanical prints. Not sure of the process, but her drawings are wonderful. And, as Elizabeth said, she is a real businesswoman. Something a lot of us aspire to and have trouble attaining.

After the first day of the show, we set the GPS for the 4 mile trip and found ourselves in a neighborhood not unlike ours, just several degrees nicer. Big old houses lovingly restored. James had purchased his craftsman style house a while back and didn't live in it for the first year while it was rehabbed. It is a beauty. They gave us their room with a comfy bed nestled into a bay window, gentle old furniture and little spots of collections here and there. Books, buttons, pieces of vintage jewelry. It was heaven. If I didn't have a show to do, I would have been happy to curl up there for the weekend with a stack of books, my iPod and a pot of coffee.

It was inspiring to be reassured that renovations do get done and graceful living ensues.

But that wasn't the best part. The best part was sitting around the picnic table, bare toes in the grass, eating pizza and drinking wine. Talking. Talking about art shows and promoters and sales and being an artist and how to release the inner talents we all have. Lynne convinced me I could draw if I "showed up" and I knew what she meant although I'm not so sure...

We discussed politics and renovating old houses. We talked about our kids. Was the economy going to stay stable enough for us to make a living as artists? Is Zapplication making our lives better or worse? Elizabeth told of doing the tango until 4am at her neighbors house on New Years Eve. We laughed and talked until we were too exhausted to stay awake.

In the morning, James made us breakfast and we all gathered around the kitchen island, the early morning perfume of dew and grass mingling with coffee and OJ and griddle cakes. And then we were off to be art carnies another day.

That night, dinner was not with friends, but with my son and his fiance. The "behold the ring" tour as I call it. We had a celebration dinner with a retelling of the proposal and talk of early wedding plans and much teasing of Leisha when she admitted to buying a binder to keep track of things. It is hard for me to explain the beauty of this.

Back at Elizabeth's, the barbecue was over, but even more friends had gathered around the table. As they debated politics and things that seemed too tiring to me after a long day, Lynne and I sat a few feet away in adirondack chairs and talked the business of art among other things. I envy how sure she is. Something to aspire to. And then she and her husband took out guitars and serenaded us. Some of the songs she wrote, some were Dickinson poems sent to her music and then there was Leonard Cohen which led me to think that there was nothing more that could be thrown at me to make these few days more perfect.

One more night nestled into the bay window, one more morning around the island with friends. Elizabeth showed us her studio and I was even more enamored with her work when I saw how hard it was, how painstaking.

I meet a lot of people doing this art show thing. There is a contingent of hardened vets who grumble about the business and how hard it is and they shoot off negativity like sparks from a dragging muffler. And yes, it is hard. I started this blog because I overheard a passing festival goer talk about how lucky we were not to have to work for a living.

But there is this. An environment built on creativity and hope, work made principally from what one can imagine, income earned by engaging others to enjoy your vision and want to have it.

The others who populate this world with you can be the most valuable benefit earned. The economy will rise and fall, our profits with it. To share friendship and experience and encouragement for a life most people outside of it cannot imagine is a gift.

So, loving thanks to Elizabeth and James, for a weekend that not only rested me, but gave inspiration and hope.

Life is good.

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