Tuesday, October 27, 2009
LONG DAYS AT THE BEACH: ANOTHER ARTIST RANT
© 2009 by David Wainland
Either setting up is getting harder or I am getting older. Maybe I should think of quitting. The wind blew in over the whispering surf and putting up a tent at the art show, something I have done for over thirty years, was proving to be a challenge. Throw in a humid and warm Florida morning and I could feel rivulets of sweat crisscrossing my body.
After a bit, it settled back into routine and I spent the next two hours driving stakes into the beach sand, unpacking my stuff, displaying my sculptures, and finally preparing the necessary tools of my trade.
Being an outdoor artist is a hell of a lot more complicated and time consuming than most people would believe. For all the customer knows, I make the stuff and magically appear in my spot hawking my wares and occasionally slipping around the back to sip red wine and smoke a funny cigarette. No, it is a far cry form blankets on the grass and Hippies selling water pipes.
A flock of seagulls fluttered overhead, a white wave of cawing, cackling scavengers waiting for the surge of humans and their eventual litter to pick apart. I guess that was symbolic for us, two hundred artists and crafts people lined in a row of white tents that would have impressed Napoleon, waiting for the first of the early bird shoppers to spend their green litter.
As the sun began its rambling travel across the sky, I watched car after car approach the beach and disgorge the passengers. They were coming and I was ready, pen, order book and business cards in hand. The majority of my comrades did not follow suit. Instead, they placed there high deck-chairs opposite the walk and waited disdainfully as the patrons approached.
“I am an artist, beg me to buy,” their body language seemed to imply. Not me, I am a salesman first and an artist second. If you came within striking distance of my tent, I was talking about my work and encouraging them to step in.
Some were entranced and some, not so much, but they all had the chance to hear my pitch. Amidst the cries of, “I’m just looking,” “Nice work,” “My uncle does this” and the ever present, “I’ll be back, I would occasionally score a hit.
Midday and the heaviest surge of humanity swept over the show like a tidal wave of sun burned flesh. There were points in the day like this that all I could think of was escaping to the surf and a long swim with the creatures of the sea
On the last day at almost the end of the show and two days in the sun while I was beginning to pack up, one of my be-backs returned.
I love the metal sculpture of the Bronx apartment building, but you quoted me a bit high. You told me eight hundred dollars.”
“No sir, I quoted you nine hundred and I don’t think that is too high for all the work involved.” It was the end and the sun was slipping away. I would have taken five hundred.
“OK then, what is your best price?”
I could not resist.
“Fifteen hundred dollars,” I paused and waited for the reaction to show before I continued, “But I will take the eight,” and I smiled.
He handed me eight crisp, one hundred dollar bills and left with the sculpture in his arms.
I looked up just as another flock of seagulls swept by in the opposite direction.
Thanks, I owe you one.” It was just another couple of days on the beach, but good ones.