My friend Kathy and I walked to the arts festival just after we said goodbye to her handyman friend, who was busy revamping her spare bedroom. He had already worked magic in remodeling her small kitchen and bathroom as well as replaced the windows and sliding glass door with more energy efficient models.
As we neared the street littered with people and canopies of various works of art, Kathy told me that her handyman was a talented artist who could leverage sales by showing his wares at art festivals, but that he did not want to man a booth.
“Festivals such as these,” she said to me, “require the artists to be present the entire time.”
We chattered as we walked against the flow of foot traffic, finally caving to the masses as we cut across to go with the flow, then stopping in the various booths of paintings, drawings, photography, jewelry, ceramics, sculptures, clothing and all sorts of mixed media. Kathy specifically did not want to purchase anything.
“Do not let me buy anything,” she had told me adamantly as we had walked to the downtown area for the festival.
(The only thing that saved her from buying a framed photo was the artist himself, not me. “Ooh! It’s nice,” I had told her when she showed me the glossy full-color print framed in weathered, lime-green painted wood. I was halfheartedly flipping through the prints framed in window panes and was not, apparently, taking my job as her anti-purchaser seriously. “Where would you put it?” Just then she spied the photographer and quizzed him about the location of shot. Thankfully, it was a place that had left her with bad memories — and she quickly returned the picture to its tray and left the booth. “You,” she told me pointedly, “were absolutely no help.” Oops.)
I was open to a purchase if a piece were to call to me strongly, but the thought of dusting anything else was enough to keep me immune from the visual cues around me. We mostly perused the booths we found interesting and dodged people, enjoying the sights and smells and the glories of a most beautiful spring day.
Having once covered the art beat at the local newspaper for the weekly entertainment magazine, I looked for artists I recognized. The scene had changed a lot in the 20 years since my departure from journalism. I saw only a few artists I had known.
Some of the art — not all — merited a closer look, and so we entered the covered areas, weaving through each 12 x 12 foot maze, attempting to better see the intricate details and the volume of work presented. Some of the booths were crowded, and we were in danger of trampling or being trampled in the close quarters. The artists were present, some awash in potential buyers asking questions, some stoic as the masses passed by them.
I felt a bit sorry for the artists whose booths gained little attention.
As we passed by the last of the stationed artists and left the crowd behind, Kathy again mentioned her friend John and his reluctance to stand by his work as the hours and crowds passed at festivals. Having seen the swarmed or ignored artists, I think we both understood him better, and we began discussing how hard it would be to stand beside your art while people underappreciated it. After all, Kathy and I were not the only ones leaving the festival empty-handed.
“It would be like standing beside my blog,” I concluded.
It brought to mind those times when I’ve handed my writing to someone to get an opinion on the spot. The inner questioning when the reader gave no immediate response. The automatic defense if a negative comment was given or question was asked — by someone who clearly did not understand. I far prefer the kudos, but, regardless, I feel compelled to share my work.
Posting a blog is like hosting a booth in an art show, really. Sometimes the traffic passes your booth altogether. Or casually looks and moves on. Or examines intently and openly likes your work. Or even offers a comment or two or requests to follow your work.
But posting a blog is easier than standing by your work in a booth on the street. A blogger can walk away rather than watch traffic stats or look people in the eye or overhear attendees make comments maybe not meant to be heard by the artist at all.
Showing your art or writing for public consumption is like offering your heart, your very self — and chancing rejection. It isn’t just a technique or a style or the juxtaposition of color or fiber or paints or ink or words and punctuation or keys tapped on a computer. It is heart and soul offered.
I was sorry Kathy’s friend hadn’t been standing by, showing his work at the festival. I would have liked to have seen it — just because I’d seen the artistry of what he’d accomplished at my friend’s small house.
But I could certainly understand his sentiment.
“Therefore, my dear brothers and sisters, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain” — 1 Corinthians 15:58 (NIV).