As I accept invitations to create art with different groups of people, I notice that I am really exploring. I am trying to figure out the ways that I want to move art out and into the world, and to learn which ways don’t work so well for me.
Take the recent Cathedral Village Arts Festival. I had a sense that I wanted to be a part of it somehow and an even stronger sense that I did not want to be a vendor and have a booth. So, I invited myself to two different places.
The first was Westminster United Church, located on 13th Avenue and a vital part of the Saturday street fair, hosting the first ever Saskatchewan on line art auction, 5 musical concerts and a pancake breakfast. Minister Darrell Reine offered me the “multi purpose room” and I liked the feel of it and decided to show some art and have a space for people to play with paper, called “PaPer Play”. The second place I invited myself was the Paper Umbrella, that beautiful and inspiring shop on 13th Avenue. Some of my rice paper bird panels hang in the windows there, so owners Theresa and Brad, said I could come between 2 and 4 to create paper birds with anyone who wished to stop by.
At Westminster Church, I hoped that lots of people would come by to look at my art, and I also hoped to display it in a way that they could take some time with it and really see it.
a panda, a bat and a bird
All in all, about 100 people came, only a fraction of the mobs out on the street. Some of them were indeed able to take their time looking at the art. A few surprised themselves by creating paper creatures. A man with a headache came in to rest while his teenage children created birds. Another person came in and said… “Phewf, an art haven.” People came to rest while an energetic spouse checked out the Art Auction. Our small corner did have a haven like feel about it.
Early in the afternoon, I made my way down to the Paper Umbrella with my basket of paper scraps, scissors and glue.I could barely make my way through the crowd!! It was a beautiful day and it was wonderful to see so much colour, collective joy, occasional exhaustion, so much life on the street. Brad set me up at a table with – yes, an umbrella, but not a paper one – at the Paper Umbrella. A few stools, a very comfortable office chair with wheels that had me rolling backwards. This kept things exciting!! I began to do what I love to do – make paper birds. The river of people flowed by. Would anyone stop, I wondered? Maybe not….That’s okay, I told myself. You can be zen, and in this street of constant motion and stimulus, that could be a good thing. Then, a couple of families stopped by. They were totally keen to create paper birds, and so they did, happily, standing up, sitting on high stools, sharing glue and scissors. It briefly rained. The sun shone again. The wind blew some scraps down the street. More families stopped. To my great delight, my friend Cindy and her daughter Anieka’s found us. They had wheeled through the throngs all the way from Westminster Church where Cindy had expected to find me. It got really hot. The glue in the glue sticks melted. So after one hour in the limelight, with glue that was no longer serviceable, I made my way back to the calm and quiet art haven at Westminster Church. Grateful for the quiet. Happy to be far from the crowd. Happy also about the crowd and high spirits.
The day wasn’t totally successful – at least not according to my expressed hopes. I did not get as much exposure as I hoped. It was a learning day, with much to reveal about how I am most comfortable moving my art into the world. For a number of people of all ages, the room in the church was a place for focused and quiet play, a place to sit and rest, a contemplative space, a bit of an escape. I wondered if that was exactly right, and if next year, providing a quiet space in all the hubbub might be my best contribution?
The small write up in the packed Cathedral Village Arts Festival booklet might read something like this: Sue’s Art Haven: Step off the beaten track and away from the crowd for a few moments. Enjoy soft music in a room filled with art to nurture the soul. Come simply to sit and relax or come and create a paper creature from Sue’s extensive collection of wonderful papers- washi, tissue, candy wrappers, cigarette foils, wrapping paper. For all ages. Free. At Westminster Church, go south on Cameron Street and take the first door in. Up the stairs and you are there.