I have often asked myself why I married an artist. I could make the case it was the girl that I wanted to marry and the artist was just part of the deal. And that would be true, but you have heard what people say about artist…well, that they are different! I prefer to use the word “unique”.
Artists have a different approach to what they do and how they do it. Some become the character called “artist” and dress, speak and behave in such a way as to fulfill your caricature of what an ‘arteest’ is to be. Some elevate their social status by being aloof and snobbish. When they get a certain amount of success; their prices go up and they start adding criteria to where they will display their work.
At art shows, they always want the spot with the most traffic and may object to be placed next to someone with lesser talent. They want to make sure the show judge see’s their masterpieces in the best light and in a creative atmosphere.
They will alter their clothing to present the ‘image’. There used to be lots of denim worn. Men in denim shirts and jeans, cowboy boots, and a leather vest. Women wore denim skirts or jeans, peasant blouses, clogs, moccasins or boots. Some clean and tidy. Others were more rustic. It just depended on where they were mentally. And jewelry- always lots of jewelry.
Their display area varied as well. Some would use the four feet by eight feet peg board provided by the show sponsor’s. Some brought their own display. Terrie had a set of aluminum accordion panels that could be configured to just about any layout you wanted. Oh, and it had electric lamps to get just the right light on the right paintings. We had trunks to carry the small paintings, a four-wheel dolly to carry the paintings, and director’s chairs to carry us.
One doesn’t just throw all this stuff in the trunk of your car and off you go! When we got serious about Terrie’s art business, we bought a station wagon to go to art shows. That was replaced with a Dodge pick-up with a cover over the bed to keep everything dry and secure. And finally, we had a Dodge Maxivan with mags and custom paint and custom interior which included four captain’s chairs.
The art business is different from other businesses. It’s not like selling grapes or spark plugs, or mattresses. In the art business, you go to be seen, to have people look at your work, and most important of all- to pay the artist compliments on their work. If they can sell something, it’s icing on the cake. And it you can win a ribbon (something above honorable mention), it’s even better.
We would go to shows in Guymon, Hobart, McAlester, Oklahoma City, and Eureka Springs, AR. There were several other places we went to as well, but I wanted to mention these locations.
Guymon, OK is in the panhandle of Oklahoma. It’s sparsely populated with wonderful cattlemen and ranchers living there. This show was housed in a barn. Each display area was in a stall with fresh hay on the ground. Livestock had occupied the space twenty-four hours previous to the show and there were still some reminders in the air.
I remember Hobart, in southwest Oklahoma, because we had two shows on the same weekend. Terrie went to the one in Oklahoma City and I went to the one in Hobart. The show was an outdoor show on the lawn of the courthouse, which was at the center of the towns square. I checked in and set up our display. I then discovered they had an official name tag with Terrie’s name on it. I decided to modify it by adding “Mr.” Teresa Elkins to it.
Each year, we went to McAlester, in southeast Oklahoma, for the annual Italian Arts Festival. It was a good show for us. It was in a large grass field with open sided canvas tents. It was always late in May, close to our anniversary. The local businesses supported the show by buying art from several vendors. We enjoyed the Italian food with the smell of the pasta and meats filling the air. We ate at a restaurant called “Giocomo’s”. The food was served family style. We each place our order and then they would bring out salad and we passed it around. Everything they brought out was passed around the table. Then the entries showed up and everyone got theirs except for me. I said, “I didn’t get mine.” “What did you order?” they asked. I said, “Meatballs.” “Oh, yes! We brought them out and you passed them around.” The rest of the family laughed and then shared their entries with me.
In Oklahoma City, Terrie showed at the “Festival Of The Arts”. It was a big show, but Terrie wasn’t too excited about having the people give the money to central location and at the end of the show, Terrie got her money. We did several shopping mall shows. Those were always good because of the controlled climate. When you spent a couple of days sitting in one location in a mall, you get to see a lot of people and people are always interesting to watch.
Eureka Springs, Arkansas is in the northwest corner of the state. It is a tourist location playing to the love of the Ozark hillbilly. They were two art shows each year; in the spring and in the fall. People from across America would come to the shows. Many would come by bus and by the bus load. We tried to have objects from one dollar for a necklace, to small paintings, and then larger paintings. If you could come home with more money than you left with after covering expenses, it was a good show. They had a great steak house called “E&E”. They had wonderful steaks, which we counted as a reward.
The shows were fun, but preparing for them was hard work. The wooden necklaces, which sold for one dollar, would have to be cut to size, sanded, painted, and covered with a clear plastic coating. If you sell two to four hundred of them, it was worth the effort. In our two bedroom apartment, one room was for relaxing and for Terrie’s studio. She would paint for hours; and I think this is when the change happens in the artist mind. From blank canvas to finished painting, the artist has put something of themselves onto the canvas; some of their talent and technique; some of their creativity; some of their viewpoint about life; all a part of who God made them to be.
Terrie was a professional artist for sixteen years. She stopped after she became a Christian, because she didn’t feel she could continue with a self-centered motivation. She stopped to honor her Lord and to surrender to Him.
Why did I marry an artist? Well, she is eccentric and does things differently than I would, but then again, I never would have appreciated how she could make a sunset seem so real, or snow look deep and cold, or with a few flicks of the brush make grass appear along a dirt road. I think that’s why!!