Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Rust Belt Redux

First things first: new occurrences from the past week--
  • "You know who you SHOULD be writing about? You need to go HERE, BE there, take photos and write about THEM." Followed by an email containing promising artist folk (~~psst, already took snaps at Pot and Box!).
  • Funny exchange, followed by an aside to me: "You're not allowed to put that in your blog...No, you can, I'm kidding. It seems like something you would put in." 
Teehee. Not sure whether it's more a reflection of growth or the fact that I can't shut up about things that excite me, but kinda funny...And also: man, I don't want people to become self-conscious when interacting with me. Hmm.

Rust Belt Market on Sunday. Three cheers for the "shopping season": people loosened their purse strings; more prints were brought.Sometimes I do well, just from note cards. Which certainly makes me happy: you know sometimes people frame them -- and I am all about having visual stimulation on my fridge. But it's the actual print sales that hearten me. The whole message, as I created it, however viewers receive it/recreate it. And many people bought prints Sunday, both for gifts and ("Well, but don't you think that would be really nice in OUR house, b/c I was thinking it would be nice in OUR house, too?") themselves.

First Sale of the Day

A tall older guy (mid-fifties? maybe a little younger?) slowly cruised the table. His black leather jacket had side lacing; his shoulder length grey hair was tucked behind his ears. Pale, gentle blue eyes. He flicked through the small cards. I hesitated, but began my low-key are-you-familiar-with-woodblocks snippets. He was. I noted the cards were collages from different block prints.

"Yeah," he said, "collages are popular now. My friend makes collages, but she's sick."

Oh, I replied, like flu or more serious?

"More serious. I need to get something to pep her up...She'll be alright, though." He adds the last part, as if he has just decided it and as if he has some power over the outcome. I nod at him: Good!...good.

He holds up one of the bird cards. "The birds are always popular," I say.

"Her middle name is Athena. Athena's also the goddess of birds."

"Not the Goddess of the hunt?" I wonder, but he says, no she's different. She's maternal, protector of the city. She's the daughter of Zeus and she was battling Poseidon to be deity of the city; and Poseidon, to show his might, struck through limestone. But she grew an olive tree, so it was a stalemate and the city had to vote on who would have ascendancy; and she won by ONE vote and thereafter, women were barred from voting. Which, after consulting Wikipedia, our patron saint of communal knowledge/ignorance, I see the olive tree, but no limestone and no birds*. But still, Athena managed to be a goddess of war AND arts, crafts, justice and CIVILIZATION, so who knows what else was in there?

He gestures with the card that he will take it. "It's my birthday tomorrow, so I'll see her then. Thanks for the card." He's tender, without being a sad sack. I wish him a good birthday and thank him for telling me about Athena. An auspicious beginning to the day, though hopefully, this unseen person is not bested physically or otherwise.

{*While I was clearly being somewhat lazy in researching, a couple friends helped to clarify matters: So, Poseidon yes, struck a rock with his trident; from which sprang a stream and the first horse. As noted, Athena created an olive tree. The citizens voted totally along gender lines. With respect to avian matters, Athena was frequently described as "owl-eyed," had an owl perched on her shoulder and often carried a shield with an owl image. Strictly speaking, not the goddess of birds, but, you know: pretty owly.}

Coming In
The day has a surreal quality to it, following a mystifying night of no sleep. My assigned table space was immediately to the left of an entrance, which was great for traffic; but away from some of my favored buddies, which made for some boredom, allayed by new cool vendors and interested passers-by.

I drove in through a rain storm, which lent to a little white knuckling, accompanied by repeated listenings of "Simple X" by Andrew Bird:

Hold your fire.
Take your place around an open fire.

Before your neurons declare a crisis
Before your trace Seratonin rises
Before you're reading your coffee grounds
And before a pundit can make a sound
And before you're reading your list of vices
Perform the simplest exercises...

A couple exits before mine, there was an accident on the other side. A semi-trailer had barreled into the divide and HAD BLOWN A HOLE IN THE 5' HIGH CONCRETE DIVIDE. The divide must be at least 4' thick. The cab was twisted and perched on top of the divide, next to the gaping hole. The mangled trailer yawned out behind it, still attached, eventually touching the asphalt. Who drove this? What happened? What condition were they in? There was no explosion, but how could you emerge even somewhat unscathed? My hands flew from the steering wheel to either side of my face. And within a few beats, it was on to another song, more miles to cover, etc. etc. Isn't this the second most difficult aspect of tragedy? That while someone's life is astoundingly changed, the rest of the stream flows onward, almost without pause?

So, that set the stage for me, even before arrival or set-up. Which is to say, the set-up etc. was fine, a relief, not beset by tragedy. I forgot my tablecloths, which was highly annoying (they were primped and ready for their closeups, on my dining room table), but my next-door neighbor rescued me from showing my utterly fugly (but loved! so loved!) project table for the paint-besplattered thing it is, with a nice old rosebud bed sheet.

Hanging/Chatting/Entertaining Ourselves
I am situated across from cool furniture maker Chad Dickinson, who asks me if I'm Buddhist -- a question frequently posed to him. No, but I used to do a lot of yoga? I think that sounds a lot more lame than it IS. It dovetails, people! It has begun to filter into some of my designs (hopefully), even though I have abandoned it for right now. He is simultaneously intense and mellow, which seems difficult to balance. He likes my Demon print, which more people like than I would have anticipated; but no one wants to actually own-- which I *did* anticipate. I understand, hardship is uncomfortable. Chad says something along the lines of: "It's beautiful, so people don't realize it's brutal." Which I really, really appreciate, because people don't usually bother to notice, or are disinclined. Which is totally their choice, too-- but it makes it that much more remarkable when someone acknowledges the interplay. Thank you, Chad.

Later on, Chad plays a music set, which is a nice surprise -- his voice is pleasing, having honeyed notes, without being cloying; he finishes with a great cover of Radiohead's "Fake Plastic Trees." Love it!

Prior to that, Michigander Carmel Liburdi sang and accompanied herself on guitar and piano. She held her own while covering Adele's "Rolling in the Deep" -- no mean feat. Definitely takes some chutzpah to attempt a tune by such a strong singer as Adele. And then, even if you don't make a mess of it, you could still suffer from the Salieri effect. A few months ago, a solid folksinger was covering Ani Difranco and while her renditions were fine, listening to her only made me think, "Man, I really should dig up those Ani tapes..." Her voice was fine, the delivery was a passable echo; the guitar playing wasn't nimble or aggressive enough. So, flip side: Sunday was a good cover day.  It should also be noted that both performed original songs, as well.

Across the way, the chef/baker is having none of it. Regardless of what it is. I missed my chance to snap a photo of him glowering. "I made 68 pies in two days for Thanksgiving. People need to quit bitching." To be clear, he's not complaining about having baked that many pies (which he later amends to 72), but right now, he can not be bothered with your problems. Your deal is YOUR deal. To me: "NO, I didn't make your baklava pie. I'm crabby. I'm serious: I'm not even flirting."

Cute, innit? From 323 East.
A couple tables over, Kill Taupe and I compare notes about offensive words. Specifically, descriptions people use when perusing our wares.

"...Whimsy! UGH." His face registers contempt. "I HATE that~~"

"Really? I don't know, I call my prints whimsical all the time, I don't like cute--"

"---NO, cute's fine, whimsy? UGH."

"I may have to swoop in, call your stuff whimsical and run away."

"I bet I could lob this pop bottle at the back of your head!" And then he giggles, which is fittingly cute.

I have a couple more Saturdays at the Rust Belt: Dec. 10th and Dec. 17th. The vendors of Rust Belt hereby beseech you to come on down...

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