Last weekend I was at the 29 Palms Art Gallery pretty much all weekend. On the Saturday we had an art fair during the day and in the evening was the reception for the Membership Show, which was a judged show.
Tomorrow is Black Friday and I’m a retailer so I’ll be at a show in Palm Springs. Today is Thanksgiving so I wanted to find something to be thankful for:
This Thanksgiving I am thankful that:
- the rain I set up my tent in was merely heavy rain and not freezing
- that it wasn’t windy so I could put the walls up without having to put the weights on first
- that my booth is on a well drained grassy slope
- that my truck was ignored by Palm Springs finest, alongside the red curb and half in a flood, with the park anywhere lights on
- that my truck has a heater because I was soaked from my head to my hips and my feet to my thighs
- that my truck was able to navigate the floods along Ramon Road
- that there weren’t any crazy fast drivers who caused a crash on the freeway
- that I decided to go for this wet setup so I don’t have to get up at 4 am to set up tomorrow
- that I am writing this listening to the rain on my roof while a turkey cooks
A few years back I was travelling from Southern California for a show in Bellevue – right next door to Seattle. It’s a two day drive, pretty much up the entire west coast of the US. I had kinda planned on stopping just north of the Oregon border, but didn’t make firm plans as I figured I wasn’t sure if my tiredness would get me that far, or my awakeness would let me press on further. I’d actually spotted a well-priced motel in my aim area, and sure enough, just as California disappeared in the rear view mirror, the eyelids started to droop.
I pulled off the road at what appeared to be a motel-bearing town in this rural stretch of Interstate 5. Miraculously I passed the very motel I’d seen on the internet. The parking lot was only half full. It was late, though. The office only had a dim light on. I knocked on the door. In a few moments the motel clerk appeared.
In fairness to the man, he was obviously of Indian origin – India Indian, not Native American. Different culture. I asked ‘Is there room at the inn?’ ‘No,’ he replied. Oh, ok, nevermind, I thanked him and turned to leave. I’d gotten as far as the truck when he came out after me. ‘I have room at the other end!’ Huh?
Turns out he’d misheard me as ‘Is there room at the end?’ and had completely missed the Christmas reference! In his further defense, he’d only been in the US about 5 months.
We all tend to get a little bit bitchy when we’re setting up. Everything has to look nice, plus we have a deadline to get set up, and we’re perhaps discovering something that’s forgotten or broken or misplaced. Maybe we’ve had to wait in line a long time to get loaded in.
Last year at Sedona, there was a couple in the booth across from me who were setting up. I’d not met them before and no, I don’t remember their names, so this is incognito. This husband and wife team had a range of items, some of which went on a panel on the back wall of the booth, and many that went on tables at the front. As they were working together, they were constantly bickering. This goes here, that goes there, where’s such and such, I need your help with this, I can’t I’m busy doing that. On and on.
After about 30 minutes of listening to this banter, which was getting increasingly harsh, I walked over to them and asked “Do I need to throw a bucket of water over you two?” Turns out a good laugh did help, though they admitted that though they have been married many years and still love each other, they’re usually at each other’s throats during setup.
Avid readers may remember that last year at the Palo Alto show, I was setting up my booth only to discover I had inadvertently packed a gecko, which I then kept in a cup until I was able to release it in my yard, 10 hours drive to the south and in a completely different climate.
I almost did it again last weekend, this time managing to catch two of the three geckos that were hiding in the nooks and cranies of booth-wall bags and painting boxes to show how lucky they were to not be taken somewhere that they wouldn’t be able to live.
Oddly this was a journey that was destined to involve the transportation of another reptile. My other half Ken, who breeds bearded dragons and uromastyx, was in the process of having a uromastic shipped from San Diego until we realized I would be making the same journey in a lot less time. We coordinated with the seller of the lizard and he was willing to meet me at the show site, Liberty Station, at the end of the show. We did a quick transaction at the corner of the street and I packed up this little girl to bring her back to the desert on a four hour trip rather than a day at the hands of FedEx.
I have quite a number of ice-breaker questions when people come into my booth. One of my favorites is when they’re wearing a tshirt or hat from a place or a company.
“So, are you visiting from New Mexico or do you just have the hat?”
“Were you born in Palm Springs or are you just trying to look like a local?”
“Do you work for the Ducks or do you just have the shirt?”
“Are you the owner of “XXXYYY brewing company” or do you just drink their beer?”
Usually this just results in a quick laugh, but sometimes I’ve hit an unusual spot.
“So, are you from Puerto Rico or do you just have the shirt?” “We moved there five months ago when we retired and four months ago lost everything except our lives in the hurricane.”
Sometimes life give you just what you need. On Saturday I was at an art fair at Rainbow Stew in Yucca Valley. My neighbor, Christine Chase, had brought a project to work on during the day. She had a number of pieces of upcycled household objects that she assembled into a sculpture. At the end of the day, we packed up a little early because it had gotten windy and we were starting to get blown away. I helped Christine with the last few stages of taking down her tent safely. As she was packing she realized that now that the project was complete, she didn’t have room for the sculpture and the box that the pieces had been in. She asked if I needed a box. I said I didn’t, but had room to take it and recycle it appropriately.
As I disassembled the booth, it got windier. Because it had been a 1-day show with no chance of rain, I’d put the loose canopy top on. It’s easier to transport, I put it on the frame at home, but it isn’t waterproof. As I had intended to leave it on until I returned home, I didn’t bring the bag it goes in. As I was taking the booth down, it became obvious things would be safer if I removed the ‘sail’ from the top. I was bemoaning the fact that I hadn’t brought the bag, but then suddenly realized why serendipity had given me a box….
There are many challenges that the art fair artist experiences.
Usually the worst is weather. Sometimes it’s as distressing as the porta potty company letting us down on the delivery on Friday night and we arrived on Saturday needing to cross our legs until a rescue company arrived at 9:30.
Sometimes it’s a simple as needing to squeeze an old ambulance into a compact space.
And I thought I was doing well to get the Silverado in a compact space without dinging the van on one side and the shiny Tesla on the other!
Well, it is sky, after all. That is my biggest inspiration. Set up in warm weather on Friday, regretting not having brought a pair of shorts and a tank top with me! But there were a few clouds around.
In the evening I was outside at the airbnb where I was staying in Cornville – about 25 mins drive to the south east. There were clouds and a beautiful double rainbow. At one point I thought there was a hint of a triple, which is a first-time-in-my-life experience for me. Unfortunately I was on the phone so didn’t catch the triple.
Today was a nice day until about 11am. Then we started with a steady drizzle. At about 2:30 it let up a little, enough to run to the restroom. From there I could see these clouds low between the mountains.
We were thinking tomorrow will be better, but I’ve just looked at the forecast. <sigh>.
When I was setting up for Palo Alto, I was setting the shelf in my desk and found out I’d inadvertantly packed a gecko. Far away from his natural climate, this little critter would not have survived to be released onto the streets of Palo Alto. I needed to take him home.
That evening, having found that he eats various bugs, I was looking around my airbnb, thinking ‘I need a fly’. Then, I found a spider! I scooped it up and added it to the cup, which by this time had some natural materials in it so as to not be quite so boring.
I left him at the airbnb on Sunday, and in the evening brought him out so he could have a warm up on my hand. After he no longer felt chilly, he wanted to run around a little more, but it was time for bed before an early start.
I put him back in the cup – really? his little face said, cup jail again?
We’re going home in the morning!
You’re really going to take me home? was the quizzical expression.
The one expression I didn’t capture was the look on his face when I put out the contents of the cup in the front yard. He looked around, then looked at me. Wow, you kept your word! I’m home.
Then he zoomed off into the oleander at gecko speed.