Sunday, June 5, 2011

Goodbye Columbus

The week started off well enough. I got back to work in my art studio after a delightful vacation and started weaving. I was channeling cool days and clear northern lakes. There’s a kind of calmness and serenity that fills you when you’re gazing over a clear northern lake—you just realize the power of nature. My efforts translated into a piece I called ‘Birch by Grebe Lake’. At the risk of revealing secret family information, Grebe Lake is a real lake in Michigan. However, it’s also the name my husband and his father used when they wanted to talk about a fishing lake in polite company without saying the actual name. Very craft folks, I say. Anyway, I was very pleased with how the piece turned out.

On Wednesday I put everything else on hold, packed up my art in a rented trailer and prepared to head for Columbus Ohio and the Columbus Arts Festival. We got an early start on the drive Thursday morning. That let us check in early and park the trailer right next to our site. My whole crew (Jacob, Tommie and Jim) were there helping and everything ran smoothly. Everyone associated with the show was friendly and helpful. My hats are truly off to the organizers and volunteers that helped us at every step along the way. We finished early enough to enjoy a relaxing pizza dinner in Columbus, get to bed early and pop up refreshed and ready for the show Friday. Columbus was my first art fair of the season and the days are long, running from 11:30 a.m. until 10 at night, so I took along lots of needle felting for the slow times.

Everything was going along swimmingly until Saturday evening around seven when a severe storm popped up out of nowhere and descended on the show. Artists often get a little warning from the organizers, but this storm just materialized out of a green, hazy sky. Winds estimated at sixty miles an hour attacked my corner of the art fair. There just wasn’t much to do except batten down the hatches and head for cover. All the artists watched in horror as the winds kicked up and objects started flying through the air. By the time they gave the ‘all clear’, my area on Ninth Street was a pretty sad sight. Despite having two hundred pounds of weight strapped to the frame, my booth and all my art was crashed over and twisted in a wet heap, dragged 15 feet from the curb where I had set it up. It was simply devastating. I really pour my heart and soul into my pieces—they almost become my children. It’s hard enough to sell them sometimes, but to see all my pieces in the wreckage of my booth was just too much for me. I felt so powerless. There was just nothing I could do. The response of the show organizers and volunteers was beautiful and they saved a lot of my art. While I could do little but stand and watch, they picked the art from my booth and carted it to the festival headquarters. They just took charge, and I’m forever grateful for their actions. A little later my husband and sons appeared and I could feel myself starting to rise. My boys were just amazing at rescuing the situation, asking: “Mom, what should I do”, without hesitation or complaint, until we had taken the remains of my booth inside to join the art. The booth was ripped, the display surfaces stained and marred, aluminum structural members were bent and light fixtures were broken. Still, we assembled all the pieces and agreed to drive to our motel home, get some food and see how it all looked in the morning. After an early start we loaded everything into the trailer, again with the help of the volunteers. There was even a woman helping who lived nearby who walked over to see if she could help after seeing the devastation on TV. At my corner of the fair, I counted eleven booths missing first thing Sunday morning. To make a long story more manageable, we drove straight home and brought everything inside to dry out and evaluate. We had kluski and Martino Malbec for dinner. That helped a little, but it sure is good to be home. There’s a lot of repairing in my future and damage to resolve, both to my booth and my art, but I can do it. It is what it is, and there’s always tomorrow. The sun will rise, I’ll keep on weaving, and Jim will bake me a pie. What more could I ask for?

Until next week…

Martina Celerin


  1. Your spirit and attitude are astounding. Your family being there a huge support. If there's anything we can do, let us know--- this was a horrible event, but you did survive!

    Many blessings to the thoughtful people who helped you at such a difficult time. We are all one another!!
    Pat & Jon

  2. Thanks, Pat and Jon - I appreciate your comforting words. It's good to be part of such a supportive art family.

  3. I'm so sorry for the storm and its damage! I have a very similar set-up to you I think, because of your sound advice. I don't have any shows after the one in Bloomington on the 18th, so you are more than welcome to borrow anything that you need.

    We had a rough weekend in Cincinnati, but nothing like in Columbus.

    Thinking of you,

  4. Thanks Elizabeth - glad to hear that Cinci was spared. I hope that you had a good show!