Hey there Blog Pals! Look what I just found, a post I had written a month or so before Surtex.
Normally I would say something shiny must have caught my eye to draw my attention from this and cause me to forget it, but in the month leading up to the show, it doesn't even take shiny objects. Could have been anything. Piece of dust, a hiccup, a loose eyelash, who knows.
Anyway, here you go, a couple months later:
I've been traveling to New York for the Surtex show every May since 2000. So long now that many of my family and friends have stopped calling it Zyrtec or Syntax or Snorkel or Merkin, and actually remember, and can say, its correct name. Not all, but many.
As my annual pilgrimage Eastward looms nearer, I am reminded of some of my favorite little moments from past shows. Not the kindIusuallysharewithyou here on my blog, but those odd little private moments that most likely, only I appreciate.
Just last year, this memory is still quite fresh: I found my Happy Place, for about 3 minutes until I was called back to my booth. I cannot disclose the ultra-top-secret super-hidey don't-even-try-to-find-it location, but oh my word that was an amazing bagel.
Or there was this pearl from 2006. Next to my booth was an alcove left empty for the fire-extinguisher. At some point during the show, a folding chair appeared. This particular day was bustling and noisy, but this gentleman managed to sleep rather soundly in the hard little chair for about 45 minutes.
Another favorite chair-related moment, this one walking back to the hotel after the last day of the show in 2007. A priceless little still-life on West 34th Street. God I love New York.
You get extra points for today if you remember my little friend Ibbs. He is actually a useful and practical Bucky neck-pillow that I take with me on airplanes. That's my story and I'm sticking to it. But that face, gosh how it makes me smile when I get back to the room after a long flight, or even longer day at the show. I just can't help it.
And speaking of long days, the following is still in the running as one of the longest in my entire life:
3 or 4 years ago, on set-up day.
Sloshed through the streets with a hand-truck in some kind of crazy out-of-nowhere monsoon, after finding out the main Manhattan FedEx office where I'd shipped my displays had recently moved from its convenient location across the street from Javits Center to 11 blocks north.
Crossing streets that were literally underwater. Actual rivers with cars driving through them.
Soaked to the bone (you should have seen the looks on their faces when I splashed through the door of the FedEx office like a soggy dish-rag).
Dried off some during the long hours that followed, setting up my booth.
Exhausted and starving at the end of the day, I could not decide which desperate urge was stronger, so I multitasked. I am not sure I have ever had a more satisfying slice or a more comforting, refreshing bath.
This time of year, the old Interwebs is bursting at the seams with Surtex advice: new exhibitors looking for it, and seasoned ones giving it.
Although he may not appreciate me sharing this here on my blog (but here I go anyway) I believe Husband-Guy has the all-time-best-bottom-line-Surtex-advice-ever.
A few years ago, it was that usual last-day-afternoon-lull after what had been a very busy show for us. We finally had a moment to breathe, and he left the booth to walk around and take a peek at the rest of the hall for the first time. When he came back, he said, "I have 2 pieces of important advice for anyone exhibiting at Surtex: 1. Always have a smile on your face, I don't care how miserable you feel, and 2. Never, ever sit in your booth like you're sitting on the toilet."
Since then, I have been too often reminded when walking the aisles exactly what he was talking about. It's impossible to never be caught off-guard while "on-display" at a trade-show. You can't get lipstick off your teeth without making a horrible face. People yawn. Heads itch. Clothing scoots out-of-whack and requires adjustment. All this happens under those bright lights in a 10' cube, we've all had that sheepish look on our face at one time or another when we realize it's happening.
On busy days with no time for an actual lunch-break, I've been approached more than once having just stolen a bite of something big, chewy, messy, or God-forbid all those things at once, from behind my booth-table. Actually, doing so pretty much guarantees that the incredibly important person (or group of people) you've been dying to meet with will pop in at that exact moment.
And many will falter, just for a second: you take a deep breath, lower your head, rest your elbows on your maybe-too-widely spread-apart knees, and forget where you are, even if just for a split-second. You may not notice in your periphery that someone is passing your booth, and if you could see the look on their face you would be painfully aware that it says,"ew, that guy looks like he's sitting on a toilet." and you can be sure that they do not want to see what fabulous art you are showing on your now might-as-well-be bathroom walls, they are going to dart away quickly, trying their hardest to erase that image from their brain forever and ever.
The highs at Surtex, or any show, are supercrazyhigh. The absolute exhileration of making deals, brainstorming projects and collections, compliments flying every which way - the excitement is amazing. This is why we pay the big bucks, it's what we've been leading up to all year. There's nothing like it. But between those highs are moments that can feel endless and tortuous in comparison. For those of you new to the show: be prepared with incredible endurance, patience, and thick skin that you never imagined necessary. Really, you'll need it. I don't care who you are, you will.
But don't forget to enjoy those moments, those odd little private moments that most likely, only you will appreciate.
Don't forget those during this busy preparation time, either. Stop and breathe. Take a walk. Smell the flowers. Listen to music you love. Light a calming candle. But if you do, never, ever, ever, EVER do this:
(yes, you're really seeing that). And that, my friends, is the single best piece of advice I can ever give you: "don't set your art on fire" (unless, of course, you are a conceptual artist and fire is part of the piece itself and you have all safety issues under complete control - other than that, don't do it).
My grandparents lived on a very large wooded lot right in the middle of town. It was at the top of a hill and much of it was a fairly steep grade, and over the years Granddad had built terraced paths throughout the property, linking wooded gardens, picnic grounds, a horseshoe court, a rope swing, even the remains of tree-houses built for my uncle and mother when they were little.
It was a magical place, words can't really describe it. As did everyone else in my family who grew up anywhere between 1932 and 1998, I spent a majority of my childhood roaming the paths, entertaining myself in this wooded wonderland. Upkeep was constant: although both became increasingly crippled by arthritis, Granddad spent every waking hour of his retirement maintaining, cleaning, clearing, manicuring, and tinkering... and Granny's passion for gardening was apparent in the details. When we grandkids were given chores to do to help out, they were often made into some kind of game. One of my favorites was especially for the littler kids: the fir-cone-Easter-egg-hunt. Under 100 or so large fir trees, the paths could have easily become littered with cones - but not Granny and Granddad's paths. Granny would send me outside with a big brown paper grocery bag, and would give me a shiny penny for every cone I picked up from the paths. There was no cheating and reaching off-path to get a little extra cash, the challenge was to count just how many were on the actual path.
Weekend before last the temperature rose into the 70s for the first time around here since mid-September, and I was finally (sort of) caught up enough with work to take a couple days off and tend to my own little yard. I started Saturday by pulling weeds from the flowerbeds, but ended up spending most of the day reclaiming one whole side of the backyard from the ivy that annually threatens to overtake us all ("Feed me!" ). A really lousy job, clearing ivy. I'm sure you already know this, but I had to say it again. Really, really lousy.
Molly thought she was helping me with all my digging. Um, we'll discuss that another day. To entertain myself while doing my own digging, pulling, and trimming, I played the fir-cone-Easter-egg-hunt game. All day long I counted every single cone I picked up from the grass and from the mess of ivy that had once been (and soon will soon return to) grass. There was no cheating and reaching into flowerbeds, the challenge was to count just how many were in the actual lawn-area.
Keeping count became a Zen thing, and although sweaty, aching, and covered head to toe in bugs and dirt ... I quite enjoyed the day. Although I get no shiny pennies for those 4 garbage cans full of ivy, I managed to collect 217 fir cones ... not too bad for a day's work.
We came across this guy on a beach walk and wondered who we was, where he had come from. Just lying there on his back, with dem teeny tiny little feets in the air. Little Miss Agatha was pleased to be able to give him a proper dog greeting. When your nose is only a few inches off the ground, good bottom-sniff-greetings are hard to come by.
He had landed quite peacefully, actually. From the trail of clouds, it looked as if he had been launched somewhere in central Oregon. But where ... and why?
For thousands of years, deep within the thick deep old-growth forests of Oregon where some of the oldest trees on the planet reside, there has lived a tribe of woodland creatures that no human has ever seen. The creatures are shy and secretive, and cherish their quiet life among the giant evergreens. Long before even the first Native American set foot on this continent, they erected a grand statue of Magic Wood - a monument to their society and their home in the ancient forests. As rumors spread throughout the old-growth forest that a logging operation could be closing in on their pristine and private homeland, they realized they must relocate to a deeper, denser area. But their grand monument - he was much too large to carry with them (the creatures are very small, you see). What would they do? If they left him behind, Evil Loggers would try to cut him with their saws, maybe even burn him with fire, and the secret of the Magic Wood might be revealed. The statue must go as far from Evil Loggers as possible.
Some of the little creatures decided to build a catapult, and thrust their statue into space to live among the stars. But the older, wiser creatures realized that Magic Wood was much too heavy to make it all the way to space, and would fall short; they suggested aiming it toward a land birds had told them of: The Beach. The Beach is a magical place covered in soft sand, which would provide a gentle landing for the statue. And even better, there was a beach north of them that was the longest, straightest sandy beach on the face of the earth. This would be perfect ... a 28-mile runway in which to land. The creatures gathered in a somber ceremony to bid farewell to their monument. Their world was changing, and all they could hope was that they could find a new little piece of forest in which to live, forever hidden from humans and their destructive ways. They watched as their grand monument launched into the sky, as if on fire - contrail billowing behind him - far, far, away, to land softly in the distant sands of the Long Beach Peninsula. There he rests peacefully today. As predicted, humans have tried to destroy him with saws, and with fire,
but he is made of Magic Wood, and he remains solid and constant - a silent monument to the Creatures of the Old Growth Forest.
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Please don't use or reproduce anything you find here without permission.