Monday, April 18, 2011

Reflections on the BVS Annual Art Show

(The "bigger, better" version, in this case, has a haloing and banding that stinks and wasn't on the print. If you can overlook that, you will have an idea of what the print looked like)
Saturday's forecast had called for a high of 69 degrees—balmy by our recent standards, and no rain in sight. That was promising. It was looking as if we would have a great day for a party and an art show. Sure enough the sun come came out bright and clear—not one of those gray mornings that have been the norm lately.

The Husband got ahead of me and placed all five of my pieces in the back of the car and we took off before 8:30 AM to deliver everything to the country club. Before we could get everything out of the back of the car, there was a friendly greeter out to meet us and offering to carry anything inside for us. Our greeter was a friendly face from two years ago, a fellow photographer who had been extremely kind and encouraging to me. Another good sign for the occasion. 

Inside, all was abuzz with activity. There were stations for checking in where workers attached official labels to the bottoms of the art, then "hangers" who quickly and efficiently grabbed up the work to hang it on available wall space. Everything appeared to be humming along smoothly.

My work aroused a bit of curiosity at the check-in area. That's not surprising, since there are far more painters involved in the event than photographers, my process as well as mediums evoked a few questions. The pieces all looked sort of like photographs, but not exactly, and that brought up a number of inquiries. The metal, canvas, and metallic paper brought up questions about "how I did it". The piece that garnered the most questions, not surprisingly, was the one on metal. I was told that one of the men working the show commented, "If that one doesn't sell, I'll eat my hat." Goodness knows, I didn't want the man eating a hat! I needed a sale.
After a brief visit with a few people we recognized and some embarrassingly lame attempts on my part to answer questions, we left the working staff to finish their job and headed back home. There was a nice break for a rest, lunch, and then time to get back for the reception. I didn't want to miss a moment of the party.

We got there about five minutes after the doors were to officially open, but there was already quite a crowd munching on hors d'oeuvres and sipping wine. I collected my name tag. It announced "Artist" in bold letters under my name and made me feel a bit self-conscious. Maybe "Contributor" would have been easier to handle, I thought to myself. But there wasn't time for reflection. The big lobby was already noisy, there was a constant hum of chatter and people moving about. As time went on, I heard more than once that some of the missing husbands were "in the bar, having a 'real' drink." Perhaps the getting dressed up had been a bit too much for a few of the guys. The mood was upbeat and the energy level was high. 

The walls of the club lobby were covered with art work. I know I will have to go back one day this week to really take it all in. Yesterday there was simply too much noise and too many people to really see more than a handful of pieces.

Wherever I was I could see that there were usually two to six people looking at my little portion of the east wall. That east wall placement proved to be a major asset. Early on, I was at the back of the hall encouraging a bright-eyed young woman who enthusiastically confided that she was participating in her very first show ever. Later, making my way back toward the entrance, I stopped off to admire the drawings of a new friend. While she complained that she didn't have any really new work for this show, I marveled at her skill in depicting the life in her subjects' eyes.

As I had begun my return from the back of the hall, I had noticed a middle-aged blond woman accompanied by an older woman looking at my work. By the time I left my friend, still unconvinced that her gift is in capturing eyes, I registered that those two women were still in that same spot and became curious about their interest in my pieces. 

It turned out the younger woman had fallen for the largest print in my group—the photo of our chestnut, Lancer (the picture above, but without that nasty banding you will see in the larger jpeg). They asked questions about creative process that I didn't have good answers for. I felt more stupid than ever. How do I know why I added the golden glow to the dust at the horse's feet in that one image? In spite of my lame answers, the daughter was convinced that she had to have the 20x26 framed piece. The mother, however, was certain that her daughter didn't have room. I could feel a potential sale slipping away.

While I caught a glimpse now and then of "the one that got away", M (the artist who knows how to draw eyes) began selling my piece on metal. I was amazed. I couldn't have hired a better advocate. She was collaring friends and acquaintances and dragging them to vantage points to take in the effect of late afternoon light bouncing off the metal. Before I knew what hit me, M had sold the piece and the red dot denoting "sold" went up on the label for that piece. Whew! She was a force to be reckoned with. I want to take her with me every time I try to sell anything!

By the time that sale was concluded, I was feeling pretty good about the show—except for my back and feet, that is. Then, I got a new burst of energy. The woman with the blond braid down her back who had been admiring my large print was back, standing in her place once again, square in front of the piece, no one else around her, and glued to that image.  Maybe..., I thought, just maybe, and made a beeline for her. I wanted to be nearby in case she had any questions, and I guess my timing was good. She turned to me as soon as I neared and said, "I'm going to buy your horse!" Well, that was fine by me.

I left the club exhausted, hungry, and elated. But the best part was still to come. My back had barely survived the test and when home, I took time out only for a greeting for Galen then headed for my closet to change into pj's. I knew I was done for the day. Yes, I would be sitting upright for a while, but I would be totally useless the rest of the evening. When I emerged from the closet, comfy, and ready for relaxation, something out of place caught my eye. While I was in my exhausted stupor, The Husband had snagged my "Artist" label off my sweater and stuck it at eye level on the mirror above my sink. See why I think he's so special? I couldn't have asked for anything sweeter to wrap up the day. 


  1. What a great story, Anita and congratulations on the sale!!! :) The Husband is truly special and you spin a heck of a good story, too!

  2. Paul - Thanks for your kind words. I have to admit to feeling quite chipper. Selling two pieces felt pretty darned good. I was already glad I had decided to participate and the sales were icing on the cake.

    The Husband is much appreciated here.

  3. First off congratulations on the sales and meeting a new local artist. So glad the showing went well for you.

    I was wondering if you made an image of your print on metal that shows off the properties of the medium? It would be interesting to see how and what type of image works best with the metal print.

    As for your angst in describing your artistic workflow it may be easier to just say 'That is where the image took me'. I know that sounds vague, but I have had some that grab me and direct the flow which could never be replicated or explained. Go with it and enjoy the ride.

    Glad you seem to be doing well and in good spirits.


  4. Steve - Honestly, I was just thinking about you yesterday and wondering if I would hear from you again. Welcome back!

    Thank you for your good thoughts. It felt good to know that I connected with some people.

    I definitely will post the file for the metal print. You are on the track with your question, in my opinion. I agonized over whether I had chosen well. Evidently, I didn't do too badly; but, I still don't feel that I have a firm handle on how to maximize the effect of the metal. I wish it weren't so pricey. I would love to do a bunch of experiments.

    Your answer is almost word for word my response. Artists get it. Some non-artists are only further puzzled. I think there are just some questions that can't be answered satisfactorily.

    It is fascinating, isn't it, that some pieces won't talk and it takes forever to tease out the secrets, while others as you say, grab you and "direct the flow which could never be replicated or explained". The process is almost always an intriguing conversation.

    Don't stay away so long.

  5. Bravo to the Artist! It sounds like a wonderful time had and a very positive reaction to your work. I believe that husband of yours is proud of his Artist.

    I don't know that Artist need share all the details. Would you ask a Master Chief about one their winning recipes...I dare say not.

    Anita, there was excitement in this post...good to hear!

  6. Earl - You are so kind. It was a good party. Bear Valley Springs is a retirement community and I think it adds to the relaxed and generally friendly atmosphere. When that husband says he is proud of me, I glow with satisfaction.

    Well, I am one Chef who doesn't have a clue about many of the ingredients in my recipes. The questions that really left me feeling stupid were the "how" questions about the printing process, since, for the first time, I didn't do it. Printing on metal?! Yikes! It must be magic, I guess.

    It was exciting, you're right. It does feel good to connect with someone through your work. It always fires up my passion.

  7. Congratulations on your success at this show! I had no doubt that you would sell your work. And you seemed to have fun, too!
    When someone asks me a question and I don't want to appear stupid because I don't know the answer, I tell them "That's classified" or "It's a proprietary process I'm not at liberty to discuss".

    That husband - he's a keeper.

  8. Ken - Thank you for your kind words. I did have fun. The reception is a big party and I am not a social animal; therefore, the event serves to get me out in a crowd of friendly people.

    I rather like the "classified" response. I really don't want to try the old line, "If I told you, I would have to kill you." That could dampen enthusiasm, don't you think?

    I am not about to let that husband get away!


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