It's been a wonderfully busy month: showing and selling, meeting and greeting. As a solitary studio artist, getting around other artists, art and art lovers brings a whole new energy to my life and, I do think ultimately, to my art as well. I see work that inspires me. I talk to other artists about their process and studio life. I share my process with art show visitors from high school art students to veteran art buyers.
Many people who visit the shows and see wonderful work, never know how much work goes on in the background. And truth be told, before I did shows like this, I didn't have any idea either. I'm not talking about the actually art making but the making of an art show.
This is show takes two days to set up. Over 100 artists work loading and unloading huge trucks full of equipment, painting pedestals, and setting up complex lighting systems. Teams work to set up each large group area like the group gallery or cashier/check out area. Then individual artists work to set up their own booth or shelves with their own work. The show lasts for 3 days. Then everyone teams up again for take down but instead of days, they have hours to get it all disassembled, packed and cleaned up.
Fired up to burned out.
I watched my work go off to new homes. I loaded lighter boxes into my car and drove home feeling a good kind of tired. I'd unpack later, because then I needed food, wine and sleep.
A few days later, it was time to tackle the rest of the job. Back in the quiet of my studio, boxes needed to be unpacked. My inventory needed to be tallied. My shelves refilled. I worked with silence as a cozy companion while I checked off pieces and added up my sales. I made more than my fees and costs, so I'm grateful. I usually leave the math for last, worried that my total will not be enough to balance out all the costs from show fees and commissions to the hours, days and months of work.
People see the work but not the work that went into it. Even I can't accurately calculate the true sum of materials, time, education, experience and energy that goes into each piece I make.
The work of the heart is hard to measure in dollars and cents.
As an artist, teacher and mother, I understand and somewhere inside me I accept and embrace it. There's a part of me that wouldn't have it any other way. And, yet, there are forces surrounding us lately that derail even the best intentions. Forces that make it harder for all of us to see, live and work from our hearts when we worry about taxes, health care and education.
When I see myself distracted by the distress, I want to fix it. Make it right. Solve it. But again and again, I come back to the truth, I can't solve the worlds' problems. I can only do what I know is right in my part of it.
Time to come back to home base. Create it with strength and heart and kindness and a deep appreciation of the wisdom and forces that were here before me and are beyond me.