I am happy to report that we got the spaces marked on the streets yesterday while it was still light. What a thrill! Thunderstorms were predicted and we ran out of wax crayons to mark the spaces so we finished with chalk. Luckily, an artist from Texas, Larry Hughes, was waiting around for us to mark the spaces and he followed us around with duct tape to further delineate so we wouldn’t have to get up in the early morning to remark the spaces.
Even when I finished my work the streets of downtown Pontiac were full of high-lows, scaffoldings, electricians trucks, semis, tents almost throughout the whole night constructing the rest of the festival. But I was the first one at the office on Friday morning at a little after six A.M.
Friday starts early, up at 5:15. This is the hardest day of all. The artists start checking in at 7 am, arriving from California, Utah, Texas and many places closer to home. It is always exciting to see old friends and to watch the tents go up and the work appear in the booths. I always say that the best shopping left in a country carpeted with look-alike shopping malls is the art fairs. Every booth full of usual and sometimes unusual hand made work makes for exciting viewing.
We have juice, coffee, bagels and cream cheese available for the arrivals and we try to greet them with genuine hospitality. Without them there would not be an art fair, and we need them to be here.
It was great to see old friends Larry Humphrey, Allan Teger, Svetlana Kuznets. Sonny Dalton, Jim Reinert, Jan Kaulins, Lou Hii, Donna Beaubien, Richard Rothbard, and recent artists of the month: Steve Uren and James Parker. In another section of the festival I also met heirloom seed jeweler, Deb Groat. Great to meet all of you!
There was the last minute scramble to reconfigure the art fair as artists personal emergencies got in the way, a father-in-law’s death, a spasming back from an accident, a severe bout of diverticulitis. Calling artists to take their places is often on the agenda. Other times we leave the space open as a walkway through the booths.
Two artists are coming in early on Saturday morning. William Cowherd of Indianapolis recovering from a van breakdown, and jeweler Mary Cody who was camping nearby and left her keys in the washroom and they disappeared. She spent Friday trying to find them and lining up a locksmith to get her into her van so she can show up for the rest of the weekend. What a nightmare for an artist depending on being at the fair to earn a living.
It is always a relief to get everyone in and set up. This is really nonstop work from 6:30 am to about 4 pm when the show opens, requiring many phone calls, many mini-emergencies (fumes from the generators, canned street music drowning out the sweet sounds of the jazz guitar musician, Russell Donnellon, artists setting up in some one else’s space). Monitoring it we had our two street team (Wendy and Greg) and four of us handling the paperwork and making sure all the artists were heading the same direction.
By four o’clock all the booths were open and the crowds had started to filter in for the evening. This festival is especially beautiful on these balmy summer nights, with each individual booth lit to enhance the goods inside. It is like a magical village. Sure hope you can make it tomorrow night. We look forward to seeing you there.
A long day…ending now at 11:30 pm.