A humungous, over-sized replica of a piece of steak won the Grand Prize at the 3rd Annual National Juried Exhibition of the Art League of Northern California in Novato. This chunk of cow was amazing; it must have been about four feet by three feet in diameter, and it looked exactly like the meat I buy at Raley’s, from the fatty marbling down to the hand-drawn bar code on the label and the cellophane wrapping stretched over styrofoam with the blood pooling inside under the meat. It was displayed low to the ground on a pedestal and had a “Do Not Touch” sign placed in front of it. Good thing too, because I really wanted to feel what it was made of. I tried to get a closer look at the display label, but there were always people standing in front of it. I think it may have said “resin.”
I dragged my husband and my long-suffering son to the artists’ reception last Saturday night. We actually had to drive an hour and a half out of our way to get to Novato because we were going to visit my dad in Sacramento after the show. My son didn’t want to be going to his grandpa’s in the first place, so he was rather surly and unenthusiastic — you know, a typical mopey adolescent.
I had really talked myself into schmoozing while I was there. I was going to mingle with artists, network, bask in the glow of my art work. But it was not to be. The gallery was crowded, mostly noticeably by the front door where there were serving brie and fruit and other interesting tidbits. I tried to appease my son by directing him towards the free food, but that didn’t do much good.
Meanwhile, my husband and I snaked our way along the walls of the little gallery, looking at the art work. Some of it I loved – a huge oil painting of a woman in a sheik black mini-dress lying on the floor repairing a dishwasher really stood out. As did an assemblage piece made entirely of discarded radio tubes. There was a nice variety of types of art, from collage and ceramics to oils, watercolors, and photography. My piece was the only altered book or book art piece. It was in the back gallery on the wall across from the meat. It looked tiny and forlorn by comparison. And a couple little matchstick pieces had broken off from the top. Directly below my book was a painting (or was it a photograph?) of a dog in a funeral home. I liked the looks of that.
When we got to the back room where Fear was hanging I noticed two women pointing at it and talking. I wanted to get close to them so I could hear what they were saying, but the room was too small and crowded and noisy, and that sirloin was taking up so much room! I wondered if it would be kosher to walk up to them and say, “Hi, I’m the artist that made that. What do ya think?” But I was too chicken. So I waited until they left and Michael took a couple of pictures of me standing next to my pride and joy. Did I tell you before that my son picked out that one to enter? I let him choose the three of the six books in the Broken Doll series that I would submit because I couldn’t decide. He may be a surly teenager, but he is my absolute best source for truthfulness — no matter how the truth might hurt!
It’s hard to try to wheedle yourself into a conversation with strangers when you haven’t had a drink and your son and husband are hanging on your sleeve. It’s hard enough for me to engage in small talk even without those hindrances. So after making one and a half rounds again, (with one last look at my book to make sure it was still there) we left and headed up to Sacramento to see my dad.