Saturday, March 27, 2010

A Long Strange Trip

So, just fyi, it's actually a long drive from Austin to Atlanta. Made longer by the side trip to drop off the kids with the grandparents. My husband claims to love long drives--the legacy of living in the largest state in the contiguous US, I guess. Me, not so much. A long drive for me is up to Costco. Anyway, we did it, and barring the almost tornado in Shreveport, the first leg was fairly uneventful.

We made it to Jackson and almost got to sleep before a wail of distant-ish sirens started up. Correction. I almost got to sleep. Randall was already snoring and didn't hear a thing. I'm a Yankee. We don't have weather warning systems, so I just thought it was an annoyingly loud distant siren. When I heard the hotel desk clerk animatedly pounding on all the 3rd floor doors yelling "Tornado warning!" I figured maybe I should be paying more attention. The ruckus got Sleepy's attention as well. We got dressed and traipsed down to the lobby to hang with all the other guests at 1:30 am. Not particularly convivial or restful. After a half hour of rapt radar watching, it was deemed safe to return to our rooms. This all seemed completely unnecessary to me, but my tornado-wise husband assures me I don't know what to hell I'm talking about.

Got going too late the next day, but still expected to hit Atlanta right around the three o'clock load-in deadline. It may have actually happened, too, if we had gotten on the road 5 minutes earlier. That would have put us in front of the sizable accident that brought all east-bound traffic to a standstill in the middle of Birmingham. I realized pretty quickly that we were trapped for at least a half hour and that was more than we had padded into the schedule (damn time zones!). I got on the phone with my Craft Council contact for the show and explained the situation. He was extremely accommodating and told us not to worry. They would set up everything they could for us and when we got there, we got there. I was a bit surprised since they had lots of paperwork about the schedule and check-in times and all that, but apparently, those rules are for other people.

We actually made it by about 3:30 and there were still two exhibitors behind us. Fortunately, I didn't have much stuff and set up was pretty quick. So we were up and ready in time for the 6pm preview party--which turns out to be pretty much a bust from the artists' perspective. Talking to the experienced exhibitors confirmed this. They were all pretty miffed about having to do it at all. Once I finished standing on the show floor for 3 full days, I understood much better why that was.

All-in-all the show was a great experience. People were really engaged and the work seemed to be more intriguing to the folks in Atlanta than those in Austin. I got a lot of questions about 'upcycled.' The term hasn't hit the mainstream there yet. During one of those conversations I was surprised to learn that Atlanta doesn't yet have a recycling program, but maybe that's more normal than not. In Austin people regularly discuss the merits of single-stream versus user separated solid waste options, so it's easy to get out of touch with 'normal.'

I'm finding that when I'm outside of Austin I hear the "I've never seen anything like it" line a whole lot more. Now, that could be code for "Why did they let this schlock into the show?" but who knows. At some point during day one I realized that I was hearing certain words over and over. Words like "cute" and "clever," which I wasn't extremely excited about at first, but then realized that "cute" seems to be pretty high praise in that neck of the woods. One woman came up, got the spiel and responded with "badass!" That made me much happier.

Aaron Barr, one of my show neighbors, had traveled from Seattle to be there. This was his first show ever. I can't imagine having to do that, but he and his wife did a great job. A trained jeweler used to making high-end wedding and engagement rings, he's moved to making interesting pieces from scraps of fine woods from cabinet makers and woodworkers. The work is really unique and garnered lots of attention at the show. I heard from him the other day that his second show will be the ACC in St. Paul. Nothing like starting at the top. So if you're in the area, be sure to check it out.

  Top 10 Things I Learned During the
  ACC Atlanta Show Weekend:

  10. There is a Waffle House every 2 miles along the I 20 corridor.

  9. Breakfast at The Waffle House is yummy. (I knew this, but was
      happily reminded.)

  8. Always act concerned about tornado warnings.

  7. Don't pay attention to pre-show paperwork. Much of it is wrong
      and the other half seems to be easily disregarded.

  6. In Atlanta, Starbucks is synonymous for coffee. The random coffee
      cart downstairs that doesn't take your Starbucks card is not a Starbucks.

  5. That little corner of Atlanta is a scary rat's nest of 6 lane roads
      crossing 6 lane roads.

  4. Excessive exposure to fluorescent lighting will make you grumpy.

  3. Fly, don't drive, to future out-of-town shows.

  2. The economy is not in recovery mode.

  1. Wear comfortable shoes.


Ashley said...

I'm glad to hear your review. What show was this? I did the drive to Atlanta with a fellow metalsmith for a show and it was long! My most often received comment about my jewelry is "that's different". I too was not sure at first if I like it or not, but decided to take it as a compliment from now on.

Aaron Barr said...

Great review, indeed! How much do I totally agree about the preview party? Glad there won't be one for the St. Paul show! Sorry you won't be my neighbor there as well - we'll miss you. Beryl, the scarf weaver, will be across the way again, though, so it'll still feel like home. :)

A couple of other things I learned from the show weekend to add to your list:

1) Having your booth between two fun, energetic artists makes the show soooo much better than it otherwise might have been!

2) Talking to other artists is amazing - they are just regular folks and like to talk about their work and share their ideas, just like I do.

3) Going out to eat at a local place with a fellow artist is a real treat! Vowing now to try doing that for every show I do!

Kat said...

Ooh, ooh, I have to take issue with number seven, since I wrote a bunch of that stuff in a previous life.

And what's with this "act" concerned??? You didn't take your special weather warning radio with you?