The innocent notice about Art in the Park is how it all began. Art in the Park?! The thought of it took me back to the many years I spent strolling through the booths set up along the Columbia River at Howard Amon Park every July. The park was just a stone’s throw from my childhood home in Richland, Washington. And that’s when that lightbulb thing happed, that idea in my head (which is how most adventures and misadventures begin in case you didn’t know - so be careful out there). I thought to myself, “Self, there’s an art show in your hometown and you’re an artist! You should apply and see if they will let you participate. Wouldn’t that be something?!” And I did. And they did. And it was.
Before I knew what was happening, I was planning an art exhibit, watching Youtube videos on how to participate in one of these events and purchasing an enormous tent and all the myriad accouterments that go along with it. At night, when I lay my head on my pillow, a million thoughts bounced between my ears. In an effort to avoid overwhelming you, I will sum it up like this, “You’ve made a terrible mistake!”
The rollercoaster of emotions began; elation, excitement, panic, uncertainty, fear and plain old terror! If you are an artist or a performer, you understand. Your work is such an intimate part of you. Putting it on display is, to quote an artist friend, “like standing naked in front of the world.” So, out went my battle cry and, thank God, the troops rallied. The artwork had to be completed, dried, varnished, framed, priced, wrapped and boxed up for the four-hour road trip across the Cascade Mountains in our little teardrop trailer (along with the tent and table and cashbox and . . . you get the idea).
It seemed for a while that I existed in a cloud of questions. “What should I charge?” “How should this be framed?” “Is this one finished?” “How does that Square thing work on my phone?” “How long do you think it will take to set up the tent?” “How should the art be arranged in the tent?” “Does the nose look weird on this one?” (The answer to that question is always ‘yes.’) “Will anything sell?” “Will people like my work?”
And the answers to some of those questions still allude me but I learned one thing. You learn things by doing things you’ve never done. You grow when you stretch yourself to do something you think you’re not ready to do, something that scares you. Succeed or fail, you never know what you are capable of doing unless you make that jump into the unknown. Sometimes you just have to lay your fear and modesty aside and stand naked in front of the world! (Or perhaps just start with your hometown like I did.)
“You must do the things you think you cannot do.” - Eleanor Roosevelt
“I would have made a lousy stripper. I’m just not very comfortable exposing myself.” - Robin Wright
A tardy word of thanks: This post is dedicated to the friends, family and my patient teachers who are also my friends. They supported me not only with words but with elbow grease and their valuable time. I would still be telling myself “You’ve made a terrible mistake!” if not for all of you. (Without you, it would have been.) And to my husband who believes in me and loves me unfailingly. And also to all the old friends in my hometown who stopped by or offered words of encouragement. It meant more to me than you will ever know.