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My Show of Shows

Thursday, December 6, 2007

photo by Phoebe Linnea Thompson
All right, then. About the show in Pennsylvania. I hadn't had a one-woman show since 1993, upon moving here to Ohio. There were about 70 works in it. I took it to two venues, one in Marietta, and one in Parkersburg, WV, and I sold two small works. And decided that was enough of that. I folded my showtent.

This one was different. It wasn't my idea; it was the idea of people who think a lot bigger. Scott Weidensaul, who is on the board of the Center, asked if I'd like to do a show there, and I didn't hesitate to say yes. The Ned Smith Center for Nature and Art knows how to put on a show. That's what they do. So all I had to do was get our good friend John to frame about 60 pieces, and the Ned Smith Center did the rest, including some fabbo signage, labels, and even outtakes from the text of Letters from Eden, right there on the walls along with the art. They hung it in their beautiful gallery and invited a bunch of people, and the people came. They planned a huge Friday night gala/auction at the Harrisburg Country Club, with a keynote by me (including music with Bill); on Saturday, two gallery tours, a book signing, and a two-hour art seminar. There were radio and television interviews, newspaper articles, and 170 books to sign (and a bunch to paint original color remarques in). It was different from my show in 1993. It was a whole lot different from that.

David Sibley showed at the Ned Smith Center last year, and had a wonderful series of events. When asked whether he'd ever had a weekend show like that one, I'm told he said, "Well, I've given talks, and led field trips, and had book signings, and done gallery tours. But not all at one time." That's a wonderful little Sibleyism, and it mirrors my experience, too.photo by Bill Thompson, III

It was so strange to walk into the august surroundings of the Harrisburg Country Club, hear the muted roar of many, many voices, sneak around with a glass of merlot in my hand, and think, "Who are these people, and why are they here?"photo by Bill Thompson, III

I knew one person there, besides the Center staff and my immediate family. An old friend from high school in Virginia came up to see me, and he helped get me through the cocktail hour. It became clear in a sudden flash to me that everyone else was there to support the Ned Smith Center, and I was just the entertainment. I hadn't really grasped that before I walked into the country club, but realizing that helped me handle the scene, which is somewhat removed from my usual habitat (cluttered studio with kids and pets underfoot, or quiet woods), and put it in perspective. photo by Bill Thompson, III

Bill and I got the kids all cleaned up, and Bill set about documenting the event in these photos. Here, Phoebe and Liam do the Vanna White thing with one of the beautiful placards prepared by the Center. No, I didn't get to keep them. Rats!
After drinks and lots of conversation with a lot of nice, well-dressed people, it was upstairs to the banquet room. Zow. Double zow. That's a lot of people at $150 a plate. No, we are not in southern Ohio anymore.
The auction and talk went well. I had three pieces in the live auction and several more in the silent auction. I'm told they went well. I was barely there, thinking about what I was going to say. Did some reading from Letters from Eden, some poetry, and a couple of songs with Bill. They seemed to like it. By now it was about 10 PM and pretty well past my bedtime. There were some books to sign. Kathy B. kept me company, and Phoebe assisted. She loves to assist at book signings, but she is starting to make me look bad. She can wear Limited Too duds better than I can wear Coldwater Creek. Oh, well. We can't all be budding supermodels.photo by Bill Thompson, III

Liam was a Very Good Boy all weekend. The Center staff was great at keeping him in paper and markers and computers to play on. photo by Bill Thompson, III

By the end of the gala evening, along about 11 PM, poor little Liam was reduced to a puddle of sleeping boy, first on Bill's lap, and then on the floor of the dining room, and finally on a couch downstairs near the fireplace. Thanks to Bill for not only masterminding the AV needs of the evening, but tending the kids while I did my thing. I was so proud of my little family. Those kids are troopers.That was Friday. On Monday, I'll write about Saturday. Thanks to the folks who emailed and pestered me to prepare these posts in a vaguely timely manner. You know me...the blog ant, still talking about cranes and New Mexico, while the world spins madly on.
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