Thursday, September 1, 2011

People's Art Fair

Hi-ho, Virtual Folk.

Another too-long break. Work was a bit less hectic, though still stressful: and then the compatriot received a fresh batch of True Blood from Netflix, so obviously we had to loll about on my sofa, chortling over campy/clever dialogue and leering at the gorgeousness.

The People's Art Fair last weekend took the stuffing out of me. I mostly packed it back in, but you know how it is, it's like after your Mom tossed a stuffed animal IN THE WASHER and then one arm grew to  twice the width of the other and it's not like it was a stoopid Popeye doll: it couldn't carry the look. You had to invent some story about how it became all addled and less favored; and the nose melted slightly in the dryer, to boot. Well, not like I'm that fragile, I'll pop back obviously (I *know*, you were SO concerned, right?), but I think such things are inevitably a mixed bag: a blast and a half!... and boring. And really gratifying! ...and demoralizing/irritating/exhausting.

And with each event, more possibilities open up: fellow artists/crafters/customers lean in and say,"Oh, you know what event you SHOULD do, you will do SO WELL at X, the contact person's name is and you can mention me~~" I love this. I love how much people care to share, want to help you along, are hopeful on your behalf. This really is heartening and sweet. I never used to do this with other people, but with all the generosity coming my way, it's higher up on my radar now and I try to pass things along. Mostly what I wind up doing is being really vocal about talking people up, when I love what they're doing. It's little, but it's something.

So one show begets another, leading me to wonder how often I should really follow up. I can see how people get sucked into this show/festival life. And I don't necessarily want to spend my days sitting in a wobbly director's chair, trying to look open, but not hovery. Developing a thicker skin than I sometimes have. Occasionally falling into really fun or really random banter with people and happening across deeper connections; other times wandering off like it was never my booth in the first place. I'm not a huge seller and I won't lie that it never gets to me. Should I be altering what I'm doing? But nooooo, that way also lies madness. These daily affairs always stir me up.

I was pretty glad I brought a framed version of this along. Quite fun to see people look over, laugh at the first panel and either a.) laugh harder at the second panel or b.) kind of pull back, grimace, or look around for a friend to mouth, "creepy!" I'm a fan of both reactions. I love when people laugh/snicker/snort or seem surprised; and then bring friends back, pointing at the image in question. It also cracks me up when one member of a couple is clearly a fan of my humor and the other member is clearly not on the same wavelength: Folks, you are doomed.  Ahem.

I am sharing a booth with the sweet, warm-hearted Sara of Heaven Sent Crafts; she sells journals and jewelry, using only recycled materials (game boards and old book covers, for the journals, plus a cool assortment of different kinds of paper within each; and diecut pop cans for the jewelry). She does quite well (as demonstrated by the link to her etsy site -- 1500+ sales!). We both keep our customer patter going, though she is more outgoing with it. After a few hours, I think the feeling I give off is: "I'll be slumped in this chair here, if you need anything. Maybe I'll get up and show you a woodblock. No? Ok, No."

While the idea of music throughout was cool, I hadn't really accounted for placement. From where we are, we can vaguely hear two bands performing at opposite ends. Let's call them Rage Against the Russell and Gaia Folk. Clearly, Rage wins out, though Gaia floats through in wisps. To be fair, I couldn't hear any band properly, so toss back some salt with my two-bit dismissal. Rage sounded like a Rage sibling, though. Add to the mix the decision made by several vendors to play boom boxes for their little area, which obviously included us as well. Yay! Simultaneous mishmash=Rage + Gaia + classic rock + baseball play-by-play. Oi.

As the day eeked into night and drinks flowed more steadily (and WHOA the bartenders provided strong pours at the rum tent. by golly.), browsing definitely took on a different character.

A middle aged woman with a poof of greying hair flipped through Sara's journal selection. We think she may have been juggling drinks with mental issues. She was accompanied by another more stoic woman, who didn't bother interacting with us. The first woman turned to Sara and myself, "We have to go on this MAZE and REFLECT and WRITE ABOUT THINGS~~" Her tone is outraged and she appeals to us to agree about its absurdity/idiocy. She waves a hand up by her head, a half-shrug. Maybe we can somehow help her avoid it? The woman in the background remains there. She waits for this exchange to end.

"Oh," says Sara.

"And my father is DYING, so I want something to reflect him." She looks down at the table. "But I don't see that here."

Oh, we're sorry, we say. Well, good luck~~

"OH!! Smurfette!!" She seizes on the diminutive journal. We momentarily think that this will be the one she gets. We exchange startled glances. She puts it back down and they walk away.

Ahh people, bring out your wild cards.

Even later -- less crazy, more drinkie -- three younger women come in. They coo over Sara's journals and finger the earrings. They are pretty, somewhat polished, chatty. One turns to my side of the booth and squeals at an older framed print,"OH MY GOD!! That's.THE.CUTEST.DOG!!" She turns to her friends, "Look! The dog's holding a cupcake!" 

I hadn't run into this one before. She turned to me, "Did you make this painting? It's SO.CUTE."

"Oh, thanks," I say,"Yeah it's a woodcut. It's actually a mouse." I don't know why, but my tone veers on being apologetic.

"I thought it was a dog." She peers at it and slides her fingers through her hair. "I guess it could be a mouse."


Naturally the weekend held way more, and I have a piddling handful of photos, so I may return to this. Regardless, I will always return to people watching. Should I have the good fortune to live a long life, I'm totally going to be in neighborhood business, sitting on the porch, twitching my curtains aside for a peek at unusual activity. And hopefully telling someone about it.


  1. Oh Ms. M.... I was afraid that you might burn yourself out a bit with this and others... it IS hard work. (I myself was half way out there on Sunday and a wave of extreme tiredness washed over me... I headed back home feeling like I failed in some support of your valiant efforts -- I took two naps instead and still went to bed early.)

    I wish more people could describe their internal thinking the way you do... love the following:

    "I'll be slumped in this chair here, if you need anything. Maybe I'll get up and show you a woodblock. No? Ok, No."

    I imagine some short clip in a movie covering this and I wonder which comedian would do this scene justice... Rowan Atkinson... nah too forced, someone subtler... Kristin Wiig? Anyway, it's a fun thought.

    I think maybe you didn't factor in the Paris Hilton influence re: the mouse... everything is a purse sized dog for a certain generation.

    Today at Meijers I studied people perhaps more intently with the thought of how you'd detail casual observations... some were poignant, some sad/bittersweet, and few were down right hysterical... the stories that is - about the people -- I of course have no idea if my speculations have any room in the real world, but it made grocery shopping a bit more tolerable.
    I too hope you keep telling us "about it" for quite some time.

  2. Stone Bridge-- totally fine you didn't make it,we will see each other at many other events, I'm sure! I envy the TWO naps.I'm glad that you're enjoying the posts! It kinda feels like I'm sharing the random neurotic bits, but whatever, most people I know and love are somewhat quirky. I think you hit the nail on the head with the unfortunate Paris connection. I could stick that in my purse. It could be a dog. Hahaha, Meijers PLUS! Excellent. Is that to say you don't like grocery shopping? But then you have a nice full cupboard afterward! *sigh*