Rochester Park is a lovely venue and the Paint Creek Center for the Arts puts on what used to be a top ten show. It's slipped to the twenties or thirties of the top one hundred, but still decent for established artists.
Art and Apples is slipping, though, and the committee is casting about for methods to regain the old glory. Sadly, committees seldom ask the artists.We know how to load in and load out, for example. There may be three hundred of us on a very few acres, but we know not to make it difficult for our neighbor to do what we are doing--setting up a show for the public to come and enjoy. We know not to turf the grass or leave our trash behind us. You get. We also know the public comes to a fair to enjoy themselves, and it is our job to see it happens.
The committee, in their infinite wisdom, has their own ideas on regaining past glory. The first is a Friday night preview. Any artist they might ask would tell them the preview is a waste; this set of public comes to drink wine and hobnob with neighbors who also dished out big bucks for a preview benefit ticket. They'll never learn, because the committee benefits from this, not the artists they don't listen to.
Another ploy is to extend hours. Now, artists can put up with a wasted Friday evening, but keeping mall hours on Saturday and Sunday is inexcusable. It changes the whole tenor of a show from the place to shop serious art to just another place to stroll ten and one half hours, eating kettle corn and leaving with nothing in the complementary shopping bag they got at the gate. Flat baggers, we call them.
So, that's the back story.
Linda was early last week because she has a new worker (not me, I'm the one on sidelines, with the cane). Linda has done this show so many years she is friends with all the neighbors who border the park. The first time I came to the show as Linda's retired roady, two young boys had a table set up on the edge of their adjoining property and were selling water. Little voices said "Water. One dollar. Water. One dollar." Linda went over and said No, No, No. It's "Water. One Dollar. Water here. One dollar." Those youngsters were her strong backs for the next many years, until one has graduated college and the other just started. She needed a new strong back, and the dad of the water sellers located one for her.
His name is Cole, he lives three door up. Cole is the coolest thirteen year old I've ever met, and I've lived with two. He could meet us after school on Thursday to set up the booth, so Linda and I just had finishing touches on Friday, before the 4:30 preview. Cole not only followed directions explicitly, he figured out what was going on and moved along without being told.
The weather was cool, but not bad in the sunshine Thursday night.
Friday morning we went in to arrange the shelves, and it was cold. And, it didn't get warmer. And the rain began. Back at the motel, we both realized we had not packed clothing to deal with sixty degrees in the sun. If the sun even would shine. We made an emergency stop at Dollar General, and each of us added a fleece lined hoodie to our repertoire.
Thirty three years we have been friends through thick and thin, but never with matching hoodies. Matching name tags added to the ambiance. Linda's said Linda, mine said Cara, her daughter (who could not accompany Linda at the last minute), same last name.
Now, there's a back story here. In the eighties my sister and I did shows together. Mean people being who they are, and practically one in every crowd, we quickly were assumed lesbians by some exhibitors. We weren't offended; there's no dealing with that sort. Linda would say "No, no, they're sisters. I know their mother!" And folks would reply "That's what they say."
Fast forward thirty some years. Here we were in the same outfit with name tags that obviously were not on mother and daughter. We could read many faces that said "Oh my God; they're married." That pretty much was our highlight of the extremely cold and very wet weekend. Laura was happy, however, to receive such a nice, soft, warm hoodie to get her through another cold winter in Grandma's house.
We did have a wonderful time with one old customer who we did not recognize as such until several minutes in. He came in with his wife (we thought) and Linda pleasantly said, "What are you looking for?" as the fellow made a bee line to a section of rugs. He replied "Someone to pay my bill," deadpan. He had to repeat it before Linda caught it (I never did), "Oh, that's him there, going down the aisle," she said. "Oops, he's out of sight now."
It only got better. As he put down rug after rug to look at his "wife" would tell him what room it would look good in. About a blue rug, "The bathroom where you have all the boats," and so on. She was very comfortable with telling him what he wanted and he just kept piling up rugs. They obviously had a good relationship, in separate homes.
Eventually he put down a fairly small rug and I remarked it would not do; he could not put both feet on it at the same time. He turned his head to look a me, but said nothing. She volunteered they were size fourteens.
Eventually he narrowed his choice to two. "Thank goodness," I said. "One for each foot." (Hey, in for a dime, in for a dollar.) He brought the two to be totaled and went back to add the one I originally nixed as too small. In his only other sentence of the day he told me "I'm going to practice standing on this with two feet. I'll tell you next year."