One of the coolest things about being an artist on the show circuit is getting together with art show friends. Here at the Naples show, it’s like old home week! After setting up and reading through the booth packet, we started seeing names of people we haven’t seen since last year in Florida. We knew that our good friends Steve and Anita Baldauf would be here as well as Jackie and Randy Kuntz. Randy is a talented glass artist from our neck of the woods (Toledo Ohio) and the Baldaufs are from Orlando. Steve and Anita also brought their son Austin, who has great artistic skills even at his tender age of 14 to do all the heavy lifting. Forgot to mention Loel Martin — another photog from Chicago are — he was at the St. Stephens show last weekend.
We also ran into Vonnie and Tom Whitworth, whom we hadn’t seen since ArtiGras last year; Larry and Pam Smith from Atlanta and Larry Humphrey, a long-time photographer friend from Florida. Jon Ellis, relatively new to the show grind, was here too — what a sense of humor! It shows in his paintings, which are droll, finely detailed illustrations of human foibles. Vonnie also was an illustrator in a former life, and her work has a beautiful presence that has to be seen in person to appreciate. Larry and Pam were showing off new work in a looser palette-knife style, and their spiffy new Dodge Sprinter van. He’s also got a spiffy new studio at their home in Atlanta — I am very jealous about that! I’ll post about my studio when I get home next week. Beth Crowder, who does whimsical pastel paintings, was also here, and we reminisced about last year’s Ann Arbor show, in which she very nearly ended up in Kansas. She said you could see her booth flying away on YouTube. Greg Barnes, another pastelist who was our neighbor at Ann Arbor last summer, was also in attendance. Jon and Cris Walton were here, showing some of Jon’s new water drop photographs as well as his cheerful florals.
New to the Naples show this year was a VIP artists reception on the patio of the very elegant von Liebeg Art Center. The show’s co-director, Marianne Megela, spent time talking with us about the changes in the show — all of them good. Marianne has been rushing around the past three days with no sleep, solving all of the artist’s problems — relocating a booth here, finding parking for that trailer, making sure everyone was happy. What a terrific attitude she has! Tom Taylor, the director, greeted everyone and made sure that the wine glasses stayed full. They know how artists love food and wine, especially if it’s free!
Shows are not all about making sales — far from it. Here in Naples, we had the most fun we’ve had in three weeks. For us, this show is a lot like a family reunion — a chance to reconnect and compare notes on shows done, and shows planned; to talk about new work and new directions; and to just have a good time sharing a little fellowship. In that kind of atmosphere, I get refreshed and stay happy, which in turn reflects in my work.