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Thursday, August 4

doing time on Montgomery Street

Ah, Syracuse. Nice city. Good University. Crazy weather. Decent art show. Friends live there.

Ok, that covers it,

But seriously...This show has been tinkered with within an inch of its life over the past few years. Why not? It was good. Let's see how much it can take. What could happen? Change the date, schedule it with other festivals, rearrange the layout.

As with many high end shows, a "gypsy" show takes place on an adjacent street. A gypsy show (also called an alternative show or, depending on how good or bad it is, a scab show) attaches itself to a juried, quality show and has folks who either could not get into the main show or who prefer the low key atmosphere or who are selling bazaar items. They syphon off the crowd who can't tell the difference and it is usually just fine with everyone. In Syracuse, the gypsies set up on Montgomery Street. So when I studied the map to see where our booth was, I said to Russell that, as usual, I can't read a map because this sure looks like we are on Montgomery Street.

And so, we were. The gypsies had been moved a block away and onto a parking lot. We were in their place. A volunteer said they had added 40 artists. We were in front of the city's soup kitchen and no fewer than 4 security guards warned us to watch our money which troubled my liberal soul, but they were on target. Over the next 3 days we were subjected to fights and an arrest and loud profane singing. Yay for an art career.

But that wasn't the worst. When I ventured up the street and onto the main part of the show, I was stunned to find the first half of the block filled with commercial booths like BathFitter which featured a nubile spokeswoman in teeny shorts and a tight T whose main job appeared to be climbing in and out of the tub.

We were appalled and many curbside conferences were held amongst the artists, OK, maybe I was the most vocal, but damn it is about respect, We work too hard, Way too hard to have this sort of thing in our faces. It was agreed that we would address this issue with the committee after the show because trying to deal with it while they were harried would be useless.

Meanwhile, the gypsies who had become accustomed to shady Montgomery Street were baking in the shadeless parking lot.

OH...and did I mention the flood? It rained hard on Friday morning. An artist a few spots up had reportedly covered up that pesky unattractive drain in her booth so my space had a 4 inch deep flood. I could only navigate it barefoot and, naturally, no customers could come in. The maintenance guys said they couldn't fix it because the display was over it.

Note to maintenance crew: You say "Ma'am you have created a public safety issue with your irresponsible act. Dismantle your display now and remove the cover you put over the storm drain. You have 20 minutes"

The dear friend who had graciously opened her home to us yet again was deeply hurt and probably irritated by my daily morning rant over these issues. But I had to vent and get it out so I could take a breath and be my charming self. Truly, spending the weekend with her and her husband was the best part of the weekend and would have been even if the show had been a barn burner.

And then, Sunday, the impossible happened. A woman came into the booth, introduced herself as the person in charge of the show and said "I agree with you 100 percent"

I have no idea how she knew I was complaining (I was not alone) or what I was saying, but she had a laundry list of complaints that we had all been vocal about plus a few of her own. She promised to fix it. She explained some of the circumstances, but agreed they shouldn't matter.

This never happens.

I guess we'll see what happens. I wonder if the "Buy 2, get 3 more free" clothing sale will be gone. That took up easily 6 booth spaces. Had to keep the parking lot visible. Hey, BathFitter, try using a 70 yr old model climbing in and out of your tub using a handrail. Could be edgy. And could we have a different guy in the cutlery booth? He looked way too angry to have all those knives.

Good news..sold more collage. The experiment of selling some unframed was a success. I am energized by this, by the notion that people may really want to own my version of "art". I admit to be growing weary of some of the items I have been crafting for a decade. The idea that I can sit at my worktable and have fun and then sell it is intoxicating.

On to Chautauqua, and then, in just 2 weeks, my son marries the love of his life. I may wear make up. Stay tuned.


Joanne said...

Hi, Pat. You may remember me--we old exhibitors generally do. Last saw you at 100 American Craftsmen; I was hanging out with Linda. First, I love your blog. Of course. I'm so sorry about Syracuse, and I'd love to tell you about my wonderful Syracuse memory of the only time I was there. I was set up on the plaza in front of the cathedral. No one told the brides of the day there would be an art show. A looooonnnnngggg limo pulled up in behind my booth, a distraught bride shrank very small and hustled into the cathedral. Her wedding got over. Another limo. Another bride. She stood and looked us all over, waved, went in. After the appropriate length of time she came out with her groom. Waved to all again, said "Thank you for coming to our wedding." She put her train over her arm and the two of them walked the show. That was years ago; I just know they are as happy now as then.

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