Monday, July 10, 2006

Merry go round

These are the cutest flower boxes I've ever seen. Behind the little neighbor building to the Star Store in Langley, someone has hung rows of flower boxes, which have strips of painted wood attached to the fronts, labelled and designed to look like shelves of books. It's the book store, of course.

Lovely weekend all the way round -- weather, setting, people I met for the first time (like Kristy's new baby, Skye) and people I haven't seen for awhile. Got some beautiful beach glass earrings, made from antique auto headlight glass, from fabulous Andie, who traded me for soap. She does beautiful work, and doesn't even bring it to shows to sell it, just makes them for friends. So I'm fortunate to have these.

And now I'm dragging my feet getting started this morning. It's the endless merry go round of unloading the car, unpacking and beginning the re-packing for another long weekend. I've got just the three days, Monday through Wednesday, to package a million bars of soap, make sprays, sachets and lip balms, paperwork, supply ordering, mail orders, phone calls etc, etc before I've got 4 straight days of selling on the street again. Thursday is the Tacoma market and Friday through Sunday is the West Seattle Festival. I guess it's good that it's a little overcast and cool today. I won't be quite so tempted to play hookie and piddle the day away doing frivolous stuff.

As much as I love the Choochokam festival, and I did quite well there this weekend, I'm really worried about the future of that show and the artists who weren't there this time, and the extinction of art shows in general. This one in particular had a really good reputation, and high-end, super creative artists would come from all over to gather in this one spot every July. This year was markedly different from last year, which had been already sliding quite a bit from a few years back. It's been changing drastically, and not for the better. It's imports, of course. Is this the future of all things? Are we doomed to just re-selling cheap imported crafts from Thirld World countries at every show? Are people really not willing to pay a little more for lovingly handcrafted creative work from local artists? Are the organizers and townsfolk more interested in the entertainment of the music, food booths and block party fun, than having an acclaimed art show in their city? Or did it just slide a little bit when nobody was looking and become a downward spiral? Who cares? What was missing was the paintings and prints, a bunch of pottery and glass artists, the folks who did the fabulous wreaths. But there are more t-shirts, sand-filled snakes, bubble wands, hair ties, sarongs and silver from Thailand, Tibetan flags, and more hair clips, plus about a third of the spaces were just plain empty. And the crowds were smaller too. Advertising? Gas prices? Or they gave up coming because the artists gave up too? I don't know any of the answers. But it scares me and was the single biggest topic of conversation.

My new friend Jim, the blacksmith who was next door to me, worries that we don't teach any of these hand crafts in school any more, and the younger generations don't even know what they are, or care. There is no shop class in school like we used to have. Or wood working, or home ec, or art, even music. How can people appreciate the craftsmanship, if they have no exposure to any of it? Maybe we are seen as freaks and losers who can't hold a job, and show up to these little summer festivals like gypsies, much like the carnie operators and balloon sculpting clowns. He laughs about this and likes to play up the image, but it's not really a joke.

There is so much more to say. It touches on every facet of our culture, operates on so many levels. I'm too tired to even take this any further. I just know that we, collectively this weekend, were scared, discouraged, confused, angry . . . and yet still very grateful to have the opportunity to be in that pretty place, doing what we love, and for the most part, ending up with a successful and profitable event. Sigh.