Backing out of the driveway last Friday it was cold, dark and windy. Still trees down, still boats missing, still power out, still howling winds, I questioned my sanity. Driving to Erie was OK, but then hit snow pellets, wind and rain. Pulling over for gas and peering into the darkness, again........ should I keep going. As the gas gurgled into the tank my thoughts; it was the MAG, last year the place blew me away, could it even be close to the sales I had last year? There was no time to get the framed pieces done, Eastman Kodak was struggling and laying off, the hurricane had just hit and there go those grumblings again.
At the freeway I made my choice and headed east to Rochester.
Making it by my 8:30 am set up time, got out of my truck and kissed the ground. Rochester seemed to have been sparred the brunt of Hurricane Sandy. Charlotte Herrera met me with open arms and a deep sigh of relief. Had Charlotte not reached out through emails, checking on all the artists I probably would not have gone. This is what makes the Memorial Art Show a shining diamond in a crown of shows.
Other artists were arriving and we unloaded, setting up toot suite. I was again in the Lovejoy parlor with four other artists. A welcome bag had been placed in each booth. They took the time to put a picture of our work and name on each bag. The bag was filled with goodies; snacks to munch on while setting up, a water tumbler, information on the show and all artfully done. The attention to detail is so very much appreciated and it is the little stuff that makes a big difference.
By 5 p.m. everyone is set up and we are served a hot chili dinner (vegetarian or meat), complete with rolls, salad and drinks. Cookies for dessert. The welcoming committee greets you at the door.
At 6:00 pm the MAG hosts a lecture series. This year; Val Cushing and Richard Aerni!!!! Oh my stars and bars! Academia vs. the Warrior. A moderator asked insightful questions and each answered as to how they approached the studio, composition and other challenges in long careers. How do you condense 80 or more years into an hour, could have gone on for hours and I would have sat there and listened.
7 pm and the Preview show opened. Racing back upstairs to flip on lights and open for business. It's a well attended night filled with chattering, buying, wine and tasty treats, student work from the American School of Craft and it's occurs to me I am once again wrapped in the cocoon of the MAG.
The cocoon of the MAG.......
Members open their homes to road weary artists. Did you read that? NO hotel bill! Last year I stayed at the local hotel, this year I opted for the home stay. Mary, John and Camille (a sassy Wheaton Terrier) ....... Thank You! I had the pleasure of another artist staying too; Sonya Mackintosh. There was much sharing on topics such as shows, applying to shows, promoters, business, food and weather. You don't get that in a hotel.
Sat. 10 am. back to the MAG to meet and greet. The hospitality room was always stocked with hot coffee, tea and goodies. The crowd was good and the so many people returned from last year to buy and say howdy.
The show closed at 5 p.m. again I was selling until 5:30 pm. Lights out and we were given directions to a dinner party at one of the members home. Our superb hosts greeted us with a glass of libation, nibbles, smiles and wonderful smells of a home cooked meal. These dinners are small intimate gatherings of 8 or 9 artists gathered around a candlelit dining table bantering back and forth the topic of the night. Last year it was politics, this year dog breeding and fiber art and reviews of the Smithsonian show. We cleared the table and all stood in the kitchen reluctant to leave, Raul announced he was headed for the door. Charlotte waved good bye, the Rice cat yeowled us out and we found our way back to our host family for a good nights sleep.
Sunday Morning coffee and dinner reviews around the breakfast table, hugs and goodbyes to our host families and off one last time to the MAG for an Artist Feedback Brunch! Mary Clare, Marcia and Charlotte stand before munching artists and ask: "What can we do better?" Seriously? For an hour and a half good information was bantered around, notes were taken and the artist gave a resounding THANK YOU for hosting an incredible show.
11 a.m. we concluded, ran upstairs and who is standing in my booth? Richard Aerni and Carolyn, so happy they came back on Sunday!! Words of wisdom imparted and then things got a crazy and I had to attend to sales. There is never enough time! Later in the day, Miss Penelope arrived with her entourage'! She was bedazzled with pink bow and chubby cheeks. Mom, Francesca is an incredible paper jewelry artist who is busy with Miss Penny but still on the show circuit! You go girl!! Again, never enough time......... and what was Papa Rudy doing there, in the shadow of women accompanying Miss P and unbedazzled I might add.
4 p.m. lights out, although I continued to make sales until 4:20 pm. Which is why I was the last to leave the building. The women who were just decked out in designer togs were now schlepping boxes and carts to waiting vans and trailers with the artists, eager to get on the road.
I drove home arriving around 11 p.m. So much to process........ and why I love driving at night even though it is rutting season and the NY highways are paved with deer hide and guts. Why they feel the need to mate with a semi truck or anything with rubber wheels remains a mystery to me.
This year I have run the roads from Evanston to West Palm Beach and in between. I have tread marks on my forehead, and am road weary.
I had just spent the weekend wrapped in the cocoon of the MAG. There was no election, no hurricane, no war, no fighting. We were wrapped in peace, respect, good food, intelligent conversation and love of the craft. It is an intimate show where you get to know who you are selling pots too. And I would also like to add it was my most profitable show of the year! I did not return weary. I returned re-charged.
I pulled in the driveway; the lights were on, the trees still down but safe and so grateful Charlotte reached out during a very dark time. Sincere thanks to all who make the MAG a successful show.
These are the shows we desperately need and we need support them, nurture them and attend them...... hurricane on not!