Sitting in my studio today in Andover, MA I heard a single seagull, perched on a tower at the fire station across the street. He kept reminding me that I hadn't yet posted any sort of re-cap of my winter adventure in Florida. I did a few postings during the trip but there always seems to be that need for closure at the end of each little adventure.... especially when other pressing things are lurking... like taxes, bills, and cleaning up the studio.
So here's a few words and a few photos about what turned out to be a nice little business trip ...certainly a much more pleasant trip than the ones I used to take when working "for the man" back in my "suit and tie" days. First off, and although no one could possibly care about this but me, my old jeep serviced me very well ....carrying a boat load of trivets to the Florida Keys and back. I left in January with a hopeful "Smiley Face" of my Florida orange trivet on the dash... and returned safely to MA to a crazy combination of snow flurries and 80 degree temperatures.
The craft shows were good. Most were produced by American Craft Endeavors (www.artfestival.com) and for any craftsman looking to test out the winter craft market in Florida they are the best. They are professionals who get the people out. I was lucky I found them and took my chances with them. I did most of their shows on the west coast....Venice, Sarasota, Bradenton, Siesta Key, St. Pete Beach, Dunedin....but also enjoyed the trip through the Everglades to their east coast show in Delray Beach. 5:30 AM setups do come early but they aren't that bad once you get used to it. And to setting up in the dark. Word to the wise: bring a flashlight.
But as with any business, not every day is perfect. Days get rained out and on some sunny days folks might just rather walk the dog and eat popcorn than buy a trivet! Really don't understand that. "I drive 2,000 miles to sell you a trivet that has my original painting on it and you would rather eat popcorn"? Alrighty then...maybe next year.
Clearwater: Home Base
I thought that I would spend a lot more time painting than I did. But between the pool and the long walks to the beach over the bridge I found there was little time left in the day before the evening news. Some of my beach photos, like the sand dollars and the starfish, however, did find their way on to trivets and sold really well to the snowbirds from Wisconsin, Iowa, Michigan, and Illinois.
Next winter I'll have to paint some fish and palm trees. People kept asking for fish and palm trees. I took a lot of pictures of palm trees but I kept going for the unusual perspective and people just wanted the iconic palm tree. Maybe next year I'll be more disciplined.... but I doubt it.
Crafts & craftsmen
The variety of crafts and craftsmen on the Florida "circuit"was quite amazing. I met a lot of really talented and nice folks on this trip. Like myself, most were also "from away" so the pot-luck dinners after the shows were a welcomed hospice, thanks to ACE. There were also more "older" people hanging around than I had expected. Many were still trying to figure out what they wanted to be when they grow up but many were casually doing the retirement thing... out of their campers and trailers. Some needed the occasional nap behind the booth!
I grew up in Florida in the 1950's & early '60's. Most of central Florida during that time (i.e. before Disney World) was undeveloped. Citrus trees and cows reigned. But one of the fastest growing developments in central Florida in recent years has been...The Villages....a playground for over 80,000 retired folks. Its a "Golf Cart" community; a Disneyland for Geezers. I did two shows in The Villages and although it felt a little like a movie set, I actually grew to like the old people, especially when they came out in droves to buy my trivets. But I still wonder how many trivets you really need when you are in your 80's. A lot I guess if you like to stock up on X-mas gifts.
There were many interesting sights and sounds from the "Village People" but one of the ones I found most charming was of two guys passing the time waiting for their "I'll just be a minute", shopping wives.
"Hey Harry, there's no need to go into the mall now if we can just chat right here in our carts...right"?
FYI, I walked by a cart shop while I was in The Villages and saw that some of these little carts can run up to $20,000. As a craftsman selling trivets this is way out of my league. But its all still pretty interesting.
A few diversions
So when I wasn't doing a craft show, painting, or going to the beach I had a chance to catch a little spring training, spend time with my lovely sister and brother-in-law, find one of the old houses I grew up in, look for a house and studio (for later, maybe?), go fishing, birdwatching, take long walks in the Keys, hang out with family, check out Florida agriculture and the weird "squared off" orange trees, and look for the perfect shell.
The Chambered Nautilus
On my way back I stopped at my sister and brother-in-law's home in Georgia for a few days to re-group before driving back to MA. So it was both surprising and ironic that after looking for the perfect shell in places like Honeymoon Island, off Dunedin, FL, I found the perfect shell in a bathroom in Georgia. It was a chambered nautilus, hanging there in a skylight.
The chambered nautilus has been revered for centuries... from sailors to scientists. It has been written about by poets and painted by great American artists. I didn't know this. How could I not have known this?
I have so much yet to learn I guess.
So... when I read Oliver Wendell Holmes poem, "The Chambered Nautilus", it all started to make a little more sense to me that my trip was, in part, about moving on.
P.S. When I got home to my studio apartment everything was in shambles after the pipes had blown. I ate out at restaurants for a few days. But I then decided to move on up to my cabin in Maine....to build a new chamber there...to a bigger and better one than before.
Like the chambered nautilus, there's no turning back now.
I can't wait to get started!
The Chambered Nautilus
BY OLIVER WENDELL HOLMES SR.
This is the ship of pearl, which, poets feign, Sails the unshadowed main,— The venturous bark that flings On the sweet summer wind its purpled wingsIn gulfs enchanted, where the Siren sings, And coral reefs lie bare,Where the cold sea-maids rise to sun their streaming hair.
Its webs of living gauze no more unfurl; Wrecked is the ship of pearl! And every chambered cell,Where its dim dreaming life was wont to dwell,As the frail tenant shaped his growing shell, Before thee lies revealed,—Its irised ceiling rent, its sunless crypt unsealed!
Year after year beheld the silent toil That spread his lustrous coil; Still, as the spiral grew,He left the past year’s dwelling for the new,Stole with soft step its shining archway through, Built up its idle door,Stretched in his last-found home, and knew the old no more.
Thanks for the heavenly message brought by thee, Child of the wandering sea, Cast from her lap, forlorn! From thy dead lips a clearer note is bornThan ever Triton blew from wreathèd horn! While on mine ear it rings,Through the deep caves of thought I hear a voice that sings:--
Leave thy low-vaulted past!
Let each new temple, nobler than the last, Shut thee from heaven with a dome more vast, Till thou at length art free, Leaving thine outgrown shell by life’s unresting sea!
This page is where I put stuff that doesn't fit elsewhere.... news, photos, an occassional idea, work in process, etc.