Custer's Last Stand in Evanston, IL might have been an actual art show at one time, but apparently it is officially a flea market now. I was across from a jewelry stand (big surprise) where EVERYTHING was $5, even the fancy plastic insect keychains. The jewelry drunks were actual drunks this time because it was a street fair, which means beer is fair game at 10 am. I had another jeweler next to me whose $20 earrings were pretty steep compared to the five buck table, so I felt sorry for her.
The whole sweaty, hot show was more about beer, food and weird music than about art of any kind. At one point, a native American group about ten feet away from me was pounding the living shit out of their drums while yodel-hollering at the top of their lungs. I don't mean to be disrespectful, I'm all for cultural experiences. But it was mind-numbingly loud and repetitive. I could barely converse with any of the four serious potential customers who entered my booth all day. Plus, the native American fellows kept demanding that the onlookers dance with them. "DANCE! IT'S AN EASY DANCE! YOU CAN DO IT!!" All white people deserve to pay for what happened to the people who lived here first. Apparently it was my turn to take one for the team.
As the crapfest nature of the show began to dawn on us, several shell-shocked artists wandered around quizzing each other in a panic. "Have you done this show before? Is it always this bad? Good Lord, this is HORRENDOUS." We were all first time dumb-dumbs.
Now's about the time that I feel power-sorry for myself and begin dramatically announcing to my husband Joe and my mom that I need a real job while probably crying. This hasn't been working very well and they don't seem to enjoy it, so I decided to give myself a break. I was not going to get worked up about it. It wasn't my fault. I'd chosen this show because another artist recommended it. She stopped at my booth briefly to bitch about her spot and to share that she was never doing this show again, which made me really want to push her. One of those playground girl-pushes where the other girl sits down hard and bites her tongue while I run away.
Instead, I worked hard on my drawing, tried to yell-chat over the tribal music in a non-frightening way with the occasional visitor. Plus, I stayed very busy fending off weird old guys.
Weird old guy number one was a neighboring artist. He was the most harmless one of the bunch, and the most freaked out. He'd traveled pretty far to attend this popsicle stand of a show and kept drifting into my booth, smoking and worry-staring at me. He was sort of a bug-eyed guy and maybe couldn't help looking weird, but I'd had about enough of, "Hey, how's it going? Anytime the shoppers want to show up, it's fine with me, heh heh. How are things???" I eventually yelled at him a little and he left me alone.
Weird old guy number two made plates out of melted pop cans with Jesus and whatnot on them. He was very proud of his plates and kept coming in my booth to announce that if he doesn't do $4000 in a show it's not worth it. WHO in the hell is buying $4K of Jesus plates? I'm rather proud of some of my stuff, but I've never, ever sold that much in one show. Jesus plate guy had a rather unusual face. That wasn't holding him back from chatting me up and telling me I look like Sarah Jessica Parker.
|Homely or sexy? Weird old guy #2 says... both.|
Yeah, I know. When I bartended, I got it all the time. We both have long faces, big chins and long noses. A lovely combination. I'd rather resemble her from the neck down than the neck up, but c'est la vie. I tried to make a joke about having her horse face and weird guy #2 agreed, "Yeah, she is kind of homely. But there's something about her that guys find pretty sexy." Um, ew and EW. Stop calling me homely while hitting on me. You and your pop can plates can shut up. Later, he told me that he was going to have the Native Americans dedicate a song to me. That's pretty funny, I'll give him that one. I considered having the $5 jewelry guys protect me, but luckily, Jesus Plates packed up and left early on Sunday. This required him to cart his crap the equivalent of three city blocks UP A HILL to his car. The show was that bad.
The weirdest and oldest guy (somewhere in his 80's, I'd guess) at first seemed harmless with his straw hat, bowtie and fluffy foo-foo dog in his arms. He had nothing to do other than hang around and decide whether to unload his lifetime supply of crazy on me. I heard about his dog's breast cancer and the girl who he'd like me to draw but can't because they are from another time. This time around, she's too young and being programmed to stay away from him. He was the strangest combination of flirty and gay I've ever seen. I think he may have been as confused inside as I felt listening to him. He kept leering at me while spinning his crazy story web and listing all the astrological signs he was most compatible with. I thought he would never, ever, ever leave.
The grand finale was waiting in my car for 45 minutes while bored volunteers weakly begged the throngs of drunk people to clear out of the art area of the street fair so we could drive our cars in. I had taken a cue from Jesus Plates and tore down my stuff early. I happened to be standing right near the exit pass chick when she got the okay to start handing them out, so I was FIRST in line. Yay! The guy at the gate saw my magic blue ticket and let me right in, where I drove one inch every few minutes through the crowd until another volunteer ran at me in mid conniption screaming at me to stop. His walkie talkie was screeching "All the artists KNOW they CAN'T drive into the area until ALL the pedestrians have LEFT." I got the impression that this was specifically for me to hear, but too bad, the gate guy let me in. Conniption guy made me pull over so I could helplessly watch people ignore his pleas to walk on the sidewalk for 45 minutes. When I FINALLY got to move up, all sorts of cars were pouring in ahead of me from the side gates and I nearly lost my shit.
My assigned spot was under some train tracks in an area that would make a perfect movie setting for a homeless drug deal and/or assault. Because of the tracks, there was a huge bottle neck in my area that shouldn't have been a problem if I'd been FIRST like I was SUPPOSED TO BE. Fortunately, I chose this spot for myself from an online map, so I can't be mad at anyone but me. Apparently, I forgot what the railroad symbol looks like.
|Actual online map where I picked my crappy spot.|
That was really the only time I got upset. I screamed the f-word and the cop on a segway right next to me laughed a little. It was sort of funny, really. See? This is a brand new attitude for me.
Since I had been away from Joe all Father's Day weekend, he took Monday off. Instead of letting me pamper him, he suggested that we go through my display, which has been looking shoddier and shoddier, causing me to complain about it a lot. He helped me redesign the whole thing and I'm really excited for this weekend's show in Arlington Heights. And Joe gets to feel hopeful that he'll hear a little less complaining, at least about my crappy display.
See what happens when I try to stay positive? Okay, sort of positive.