Many of my artist friends are set up in booths right now for an outdoor art show in Springfield MO that I used to do. Rain is predicted. I drove through there a few days ago, 12 years to the day sinceÂ a tornado tore through the area just north of there as we were tearing down on Sunday evening. Just north of there is where I was headed in my old Chevy conversion van, essentially a large box on wheels. But intrepid and foolish show artist that I was, I headed that way without really checking on the weather. Â (This pre-dates iPhones.) By the time I arrived near Camdenton MO, the tornado had already torn through there, uprooting big trees and smashing homes. Downed trees lay across the road and I had to turn around. But had I gotten there maybe ten minutes earlier, I might never have gotten through. I might have ended up beneath one of those big trees. Instead, I was only delayed.Â I took a very long way around, dogged by rain and downed trees andÂ managed to make it home eight hours after I’d started out on what would normally have been a 3-hour drive.
Shows can be difficult, to say the least. I have never had my tent blown over by a storm or blown into a neighboring tent, never had all my inventory smashed to bits (as some potters and glass artists have), never been robbed. But I have sat through many a rainy show, many a searingly hot show, many a cold, windy show. I’ve endured a Harley Davidson parade through a show, heard The Cowboy Comic make farting noises into the microphone, and once I was given a booth space with a tree in the middle of it. Â “We were hoping you could work around it,” the young woman said. Â Um, and how exactly would I set up my tent?? Once I sprained my wrist from a fall while trying to outrace an oncoming thunderstorm. But I never had a heart attack inside a PortaÂ Potty, as a womanÂ supposedlyÂ once did, at a show.
It was 95 degrees the first weekend in May the last time I did the Springfield show. The following year, it snowed, but the previous fall I had experienced four in a row cold, wet, rainy shows and decided I was through. The joy that I’d experienced for so many years was dissipating. Time to change things.
When do we finally decide to make a change?Â I think for me the time had come long before I actually made the decision. I had onceÂ loved doing shows! I loved being a sort of gypsy artist, traveling to new places, staying in hotels, meeting amazing and quirky artists from all over the U.S., seeing the great art they’d made, chatting with my effusive customers. It was easyÂ to imagine that I might love them once again. Maybe the next one . . . ? But after more than a decade, the bloom was off the rose. I had certainly seen the signs, knew that I wasn’t happy. But I resisted making that final decision, as is my way. I think we all make choicesÂ like this in our own baffling ways. I need to be given a bazillion signs, omens and portents, need to think and think and think before I finally make up my mind. (See my earlier post, Decisions, Decisions.) Some people snap to a decision just like that! I envy them–but I likeÂ to think that no one way is better than another.