I found myself driving from Denver to Chicago old Town. "We think we can have the fair, please come show your work. We have about 12,000 pre-registrations." And so the show directors forged ahead despite all of the difficulties of the last year for large gatherings.
I like to arrive at a show the day before setup. That way I can be rested for setup. Or at least I try to. I happened to be staying at an Airbnb 3 doors away from the show office. I stopped in to say hi, and then I heard the news. "Chicago is opening up on Friday! the mayor will be here tomorrow at 1:30 to open the city and the art show!"
That sounded like good news, in fact, when the mayor of the 3rd largest city in the United States is going to be a spokesperson for your art event, well, that is about as good as it gets in the public relations world.
The next morning, I have never seen so many city vehicles! Parking enforcement, water people, the power utility, tow trucks, street sweepers (3 rounds!), sanitation workers! All moving quickly, polishing the streets, sidewalks, curbs and gutters.
The next day, I found myself, my truck, my trailer, and perhaps 100 other artists waiting in line to go set up. The press conference was right in the way of the drive in to set up. 1:30 came and went. 1:40, 1:45. Then a band started up. "Uh oh", I thought, they are just trying to fill time. Then 2 black SUV's showed up, security people got out, then the mayor, a senator and a congresswoman, the band wound up, the chairperson of the art festival walked up to the podium, introduced her, "people. we are proud to know that this group of artists bought booths, took a chance on our city, and drove from all over the country to be here to help us reopen our economy, show your appreciation, go buy some artwork."
A Chicago moment. I was happy to be there, just to be a part of that moment. I heard it looked great on TV, all the major networks carried it on their evening news. Off to setup we went. Man, how you can forget to set up a trimline tent in a year. "Where are the corner braces?" "Do you have an extra ..." Can I borrow your dolly": and so setup went.
Day of, 6:00 am, hanging art work in the booth. Abstract art: which way is up? 8:00 am, 2 hours before opening, the first customers started walking the show. 9:00 am, an hour from opening, a Phd biochemist walks into my booth. "I was passing by, can I look? This is fascinating, never seen anything like it." “Is there a limit per customer, can I buy more than 1 piece?” 45 minutes, some conversations and 3 artwork pieces later, she was the first multi piece sale of the weekend.
And by 11:00, 1 hour after opening? check out the photo.
My best description for the crowd: appreciative educated, literate, younger energetic, perhaps the proper term: exuberant. happy to be there, thankful that artists took the time to put on a show for them.
And how I have missed showing work to people! Seeing the delight on their faces! The smiles! Eagerly embracing pieces as they carried them off, with triumphant smiles on their faces.
I would have gladly done the show for free. An honor to be there.
We are back folks. Get out there.