The story of my week centered around the Fourth Street Art Fair. During the week leading up to the fair I was racing to get things done to make the show run smoothly. I finished one last weaving that I called ‘Letters from Home’. The story behind the piece comes from the visits of my Grandmother from Czechoslovakia to my childhood home in Canada. She would fly to Ontario every few years and stay three to six months and then fly back. In between she would write long letters on onionskin paper that had a blue tint. In those days you paid for every ounce of weight in airmail letters so the incredibly thin paper was important to save money. Those letters made a strong impression on me. I remember a conversation at last year’s Spinner’s and Weaver’s Guild show discussing the lost art of writing letters. Everything today seems busier and faster; now we communicate more electronically. All my memories of my Grandmother, including the late nights playing canasta late into the evening and exchanging letters on the thin blue paper came flooding back to me last week. I transformed the emotion into a weaving with a blue background to represent the airmail paper and letters pouring out that spelled a memory. On the piece I wrote about remembering the time we danced, but the concept was all about celebrating and exchanging life in an earlier time. I told the story to an IDS (Indiana Daily Student) reporter at the art fair and I was surprised to find the story in the paper and on-line! In a strange twist of fate my Czech relatives today can read and share the story faster than I could ever mail it to them in a letter.
The reality of the approaching show was a little less personal and warm, however. Electronic communications were flying among the show organizers. I checked my e-mail ever few hours to read about the latest complication or fire to stomp out. There are always a few holes in the show layout to fill as late cancellations come in. Friday finally came and the committee assembled to mark the streets and get the show started. After all the illegally parked cars were towed and the streets marked we invited the artist to set up their booths in 95-degree heat. Everything went smoothly, but Saturday turned into another scorcher. We reached a local record with a 102 degree first day of the show and I was worried about the turnout and the patrons. This year we set up free water carboys around the show to make sure everyone stayed hydrated and that was a hit. The crowds came out early, and within the first hour I sold all of my new bicycle pieces. Fortunately, the patrons allowed me to keep the pieces on the walls throughout the first day so I could share my new work with all my local friends. By late in the afternoon the weatherman tripped up and the zero percent chance of rain turned into a brief thunderstorm that cooled off the show around five. The last hour of the show was still quite pleasant, as was the celebratory dinner held this year at the First United Methodist Church on Fourth Street. It was a wonderful setting for the reception. The food was incredibly good this year and the ceremony came off without a hitch. I’m so pleased—and relieved!
On Sunday morning I arrived at the show early with a sense of impending doom, since the weatherman called for a 70 percent chance of thunderstorms throughout the day. When Jim came I asked what the weather map looked like, and he told me I didn’t want to know. It turns out there were bands of rain all around us and for hundreds of miles to the south, all heading our way. In a welcome twist of fate, however, all the rain skirted Bloomington and we had a cool, pleasant, and even awesome day for the fair! People were happy, joking and buying art like the old days. From a sales perspective it turned out to be my best show ever, with nine pieces finding new homes and two more commissions put into motion. I’m so fortunate to be in this business and in this town! We tore down the booth and packed our neighbor Emily’s van, borrowed for the show, in record time. I drove it all home, had a nice chat with Grandma (Jim’s mom) about the show, then headed back to make sure that everything was cleared away and the artists were all safely headed home. I’m sure glad I’m not doing the Penrod show next weekend! When I got home Jim had a nice Kluski dinner with an Amarone opened to celebrate. I feel great about the show and all the hard work of the committee. I’m really proud of us for pulling off such a good show this year despite all the weather surprises. Of course now the planning starts again for next year! Oh and if you are interested, there's a great video of 2011 Fourth Street Festival that an IDS reporter, Margaret Ely has posted.
One last note that needs a mention is that I launched into another new venture last week. With the opening of the B-line trail in town I decided to create T-shirts using my weaving dedicated to the trail. The shirts were well received at the show, and now I’m working hard to market them locally for the opening of the biking and hiking trail. It’s a new venture for me, but I love a new challenge! Who knows what will be next!
Until next week…