First Art Walk
Two weeks ago I participated in my first Art Walk as an artist. http://downtownjacksonville.org/marketing/first_wednesday_artwalk.aspx
Chamblin’s Uptown, a popular used book store and coffee house, very graciously invited me to set up my display on one of their cafe tables. It was a fine evening for an outdoor event, with moderate temperatures bringing a lot of people downtown to see what Art Walk had to offer.
By 4:30 I had my display set up: pink tablecloth, a cookie sheet full of fridge magnets propped on a metal cookbook stand, and just enough wall hangers to fill the rest of the table. First Charlie, then my friend Chris Paige, kept me company as I sat back and watched the public response to my creations.
It was great fun to see how my work with the Bliss Girls elicited a wide variety of reactions.
Early in the event, a tall, attractive black woman came browsing by my table. The Bliss Girls caught her eye, and as soon as she stopped to study them, she started giggling. She gave me a quick smile and then moved on with a twinkle in her eye.
This pattern, repeated several times throughout the evening by women of all ages, made me feel warm inside.
These people revealed through their body language they were either offended or very uncomfortable with the subjects of my drawings. A person or group, catching a glimpse of the Bliss Girls as they strolled by, would suddenly stiffen and look away.
I was relieved they were non-confrontational and only wanted to go far, far away from the images that distressed them.
The Conventional Men
A friend of mine who came over to see what I was up to epitomized this approach, which happened with a few men that evening. We had a three-minute conversation about Art Walk and my display without ever acknowledging or discussing a Bliss Girl. Clearly, he was only comfortable dealing with my one Cheeky Quote on display.
I’m not complaining; at least he was trying to show support.
The Art Critics
There were a few people who wanted to talk with me about my work as if I were a serious artist. This was flattering if a little ironic, since I have gotten this far on a whim. We talked about my medium, materials, how I got interested in this type of art, and my inspiration for the Bliss Girls. One sweet guy named Randy, who bought a Bliss Girl magnet for his sister, pointed out the crossed legs of the Bliss Girls look like the symbol for infinity.
“Um, yeah, I meant to do that.”
The Pickup Artist
At one point when both my partners in crime had left the scene for a while, a tall gentleman came up and started a conversation with me that at first had the tone of the Art Critics described above. It soon become clear his objective was more basic.
PA: I own a Sharpie drawing that came from Brumos Porche dealership…blah, blah, blah. Hurley Haywood…blah, blah, blah. Other names that are supposed to impress me…blah, blah, blah.
He was crowded right up to the middle of my table, blocking most of the access while monopolizing me so I couldn’t talk to others on the sidewalk.
Me: Excuse me, I think this lady would like to approach the table.
PA: How are you marketing these? You need to do blah, blah, blah. I am a marketing genius…blah, blah blah. My professor and other people who are supposed to impress you said so. Blah, blah, blah…I’m available if you want to get together and…
Just then, a savior approached.
Me: Oh, thank God you’re here! <To the Pickup Artist> Meet my son, Chris.
PA: You know, that Sharpie is going to fade so your drawings won’t hold their value…blah, blah, blah.
That was just a parting shot. He was SO out of there!
Tootsie Pop Guy
Early in the evening, not long after my friend Chris Paige arrived, we encountered our strangest patron of the evening. A slightly built, apparently working-class man walked slowly up the sidewalk, sucking on a Tootsie Pop. As he came within a few feet of our table, he noticed the Bliss Girls.
By the time he reached our space, his slow walk decelerated to a snail’s pace. He seemed intent on memorizing every Bliss Girl on the table, but never made eye contact or spoke with us. He kept his body kind of sideways to the table so he had to look to the right to see my work, all the while sucking conspicuously and twirling the Tootsie Pop in his mouth. Even after he made it to the end of the table and beyond, he kept looking over his shoulder and sucking on that Tootsie Pop.
It was all we could do to contain our outburst of laughter until he was out of earshot.
Leave it to my wonderful friends to say some of the funniest stuff I heard all night. My friend Chris Brown Sumner, who bought the Pouty Redhead Bliss Girl magnet told me, “My daughter Kennedy just loves the little heart for the va-jay-jay!”
My friend Dawn Lovejoy was very cool about her four-year-old daughter checking out the Bliss Girls (the child was enthralled with their hair styles). Dawn absolutely broke me up when she exclaimed, “I have this irresistible urge to grab a Sharpie and draw nipples on all of them!”
I’m invited back next month, and I can’t wait for more reactions to the Bliss Girls.
- My Spam Folder