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A Trip to Gainesville

Just a reminder, don't believe everything you read on the internet. Although the art show site claimed pedestrian traffic upwards of 130,000, my experience this past weekend tells me that number is more than a slight exaggeration. In fact, Saturday there were very few people until two hours after opening; I can't remember another show beginning as slow as this one. My preparation for big crowds was a little misguided. Before you get all worried, I ending up doing about what I normally do at most shows. 100 items left our booth, making packing up for our return home a little easier.

Photographic evidence below:
I'm standing in front of my booth to get a "crowd" shot! NOT! And the other way:
To be fair, I'm not so sure I was in the mood to do this show. Last week was so stressful around here that I may just have been grouchy, looking for things to criticize.  Let's go back in time a few days and see how things went, shall we?

Friday, after nearly two weeks, our neighbor Ely took the giant oak tree down. One minute it was there, and several hours later, it was gone. :(
 Fortunately, there are were two big oaks, so it is not as bad as it could be. Just beyond the palm tree--that's the oak that is no longer providing shade for our sun room. Furthermore, I've always enjoyed watching the golden pathos growing on the tree; the source was a long forgotten hanging basket from Matt's dorm room at FSU. I'm going to miss that tree, as are our birdie friends! Speaking of birdies, while washing dishes at the kitchen sink, I saw a little Carolina Wren hopping on the porch and walkway.
They are lively little birds and this one was no different, picking up pieces of leaves and such that were nearly as big as she is. Well, there's a reason I kept seeing her/him....later I discovered a nest atop our door lintel! That must be one heck of a compact nest up there! You WILL be kept in the loop on this one.

Several inches of rain fell between Wednesday and Thursday, while Friday morning looking pretty much the same. Our weather guys predicted a clearing as the day wore on, turning into beautiful spring weather for the weekend. All good. Except, as I drove towards Gainesville, my handy car thermometer told me the temperature was dropping. I was wearing shorts and my new Out & About Photography t-shirt; Bruce, jeans and a t-shirt. First we checked in, getting our packet of rules and such. Finding our assigned spot, was I ever freaking out when I saw it because--this might be hard for you to visualize, but I'll try. Behind our space, smack dab in the middle to be precise, sat a huge palm tree surrounded by bushes. NOT GOOD. See, you have to unload your vehicle, stacking everything behind where your tent will set up, then move your vehicle out of the street. Making more sense? I went in search of the organizers, and lo and behold, they moved us down the way. Our new spot had a lovely expanse of grass behind our space, allowing for said unloading, as well as a place to put chairs during the show. So, that made me grouchy, as did the cold weather. Thank goodness that at the last moment, just before leaving home, I put a chambray shirt in the car which warmed me a little. Poor Bruce had to tough it out. Around 7:30, two hours after our arrival, we closed up the tent, deciding to finish the final details in the morning. Guess what? It started sprinkling....

By now, I'm cold and hungry. And this is supposed to be fun? Faithful readers know differently--art shows are a heck of a lot of work. For me, the potential payoff is usually worth it, but for other artists, they not only go to the work and expense, but their payoff may not come at all. It is not uncommon for people on either side of me to sell little to nothing at a show. The painter next to me sold not one thing all weekend. How sad is that?

Well, anyway, Jonathan happened to call just as we were leaving the area which couldn't have come at a more opportune time as we were pretty well lost. Not really lost, but we sure weren't sure which way to get to the hotel. He walked me through using the Google map on my phone-- a great comfort. Finally dinner and bed. Except then I didn't sleep well due to excessive coughing. One other minor catastrophe occurred when we discovered that neither of us had packed a phone charger!

Waking up at 6:30, I looked like a worn-out dishrag. Chipper Mr. Bruce fetched hot tea from the lobby, all the while encouraging me that once I'd showered, I'd be like a new person. He was partly right. :) Making our way, once again to downtown Gainesville, I sat in the car, with the engine running, for nearly an hour to charge my phone! Perhaps you're wondering why? My credit card gadget! What else could go wrong? Nothing, I'm happy to report.

My first sale was a larger canvas which was a promising start. Buyers started trickling in and out of my tent, and day one ended. The artist dinner and awards happened next. Naturally I wasn't expecting to win a prize, so I was not disappointed. You can imagine we both slept well. Typically Bruce has never stayed with me all day because he's been too busy, but not so this weekend. He was a wonderful help when I needed it!

The highlight of Sunday was seeing an old friend from my x-ray taking days. It's a shock that I even recognized her as she started to walk by wearing sunglasses. Terri and I worked together at Winter Park Hospital maybe 20 years ago? Her Mom was visiting from South Carolina and I convinced them to pose for a photograph.
Apparently she's been living in Gainesville for the last 12 years and is still doing mammograms! Just to the right of Terri's Mom, outside the tent is our saleless (is this a word?) next door neighbor. I still feel bad about that except for one thing. While Bruce was chatting with him, for some reason he showed him a few of my prints, which he began critiquing. This morning I told Bruce how weird that was for someone who sold not one thing to be critiquing my things. I guess it takes all kinds.

The weather remained good all weekend despite the chilly start and finally 5:30 arrived and it was all over. Packing and loading went really well and Bruce was able to bring the car right near our space because earlier in the day he paid $10 to park it really close. That same lot had one of the more interesting things I saw while there--a purple bicycle!
Insisting he was good to go, Bruce drove, and before you know it, the two hours was up and we were ready to exit the Turnpike,
for the final stretch. Arriving home around 8:30, we ate popcorn (!), watched a CNN special about MLK and went to bed!

Because I was practically worthless most of last week, it felt good to empty the dishwasher, do some cleaning, and buy groceries this morning. To tell you the truth, I'm glad we won't be doing another show until Mother's Day in Lakeland.  I'm ready for a vacation!

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