“When it rains, it pours” – that has most certainly been the case at quite a few of my outdoor shows this year.
We’ve been sitting in the booth in torrential downpours, have seen/ heard a church steeple across the street get blown to smithereens by lightning, have very narrowly escaped a tornado in Tornado Alley, and have waded through ankle-deep rivers in the booth to tear down in the rain.
Of course, we then also had the frying pan days, like the ones of this past weekend in Columbus, Ohio, where one becomes a sitting duck (a very crispy one at that) for sunburns, heat strokes, and dehydration.
Those are the days when I question whether I should be sitting in a little air conditioned cubicle somewhere, stapling sticky notes to my forehead instead, for the next twenty years of my life.
Usually, I quickly determine that a) sitting in a cubicle for longer than a few hours would totally do me in, and b) I would be stapling sticky notes to other people’s heads as well, which I’ve been told would be a problem on my recommendation letters they would give me after they escort me to the door in handcuffs…so I guess I’m on the right track here….
Most patrons at the art festivals do not realize the amount of work it takes the artists to be there – driving seven hours, setting up for five hours (passing out from heat exhaustion all the while), sitting at the booth all day, mainly without having had breakfast, tearing down and driving back for another sr en hours, only to rinse and repeat the next weekend.
Sometimes that hard work pays off by being able to pay the rent and the electric bills (sometimes, the phone bill is paid late, or not at all…).
And sometimes, we’ve heard of comments like “Is this all you do, or do you also work for a living?”, which to an artist, who set up the booth at five in the morning, in the rain, with no breakfast after a seven hour drive might just be the ultimate insult to add to the wet tent, soggy shoes, and slow sales that won’t cover expenses.
And yet, we keep coming back to these shows to bring our visions of art to the show visitors – because there is a magic spark that happens when a patron walks in and “gets it”, or when a gaggle of church ladies spend half an hour laughing out loud at the titles on my work, or when a little kid walks in and asks about why I only paint sheep, and the asks me “Are you kinda crazy?”.
Those moments make every soggy tent packed into the trailer, every jump at a loud thunderclap, every dizzy spell during setup, every sleepless night about unpaid tax bills worthwhile…
I may never be rich – but I am blessed to get to do what I love.