Sunday, April 26, 2009

Sharing the love of art.

Saturday was one of the biggest days of the year for us: Magic City Art Connection. The best thing about this festival of art, dance, carnival food, and more art is that it’s free. Yes! That is the word in the English language that is often most dear to me: free. This time of year is when I dance and cavort among the masses in my smiles and sunglasses all around the little white tents. Mr. Husband skips beside me like a giant happy bear. We’ve been attending Art Connection in Linn Park (downtown Birmingham) since the third month of our dating courtship. It is a tradition. We love tradition. It is where we know we’ll be happy and see wonderful things to pique our interest and challenge our minds into motion. This is the place where Mr. Husband bought me the most expensive birthday gift I’d ever had—he did it without thinking twice. I was amazed and felt like everyone would judge me and say that I’m dating him for his money. Silly me! Back then, as poor as I was and trying to make it on my own, I thought that $180 was an exorbitant cost. Who would just drop $180 without thinking about it and doing the figures in his head about whether or not that would cut into a food budget or the electric bill? Back then, I didn’t have cable and used a dial-up modem for my $300 e-Machine that my parents bought me when I started grad school. $180 was my food budget for an entire month.

Mr. Husband seemed like a hero to me that day. It was late April, 2006. It had been raining all day at Art Connection, and we’d wandered around with Petar and Maja, looking at art and watching the kids fall on the wet wooden kid stage as they tried to dance an Irish Jig in the rain. We walked over to an artist’s tent with jewelry—pearls dropping from silver sculpted flower petals. Clear, subtle, and classic. Mr. Husband-then-Boyfriend encouraged me to look at a pair. I held them between my fingers and marveled at their simple beauty. Mr. Husband-then-Boyfriend asked if I liked them. I breathed, “yes.” He turned to the artist’s mother, who was manning the tent, and told her, “we’ll take them.” I gasped and protested, but he smiled and would not relent.

My first birthday gift ever from Mr. Husband are the earrings I wore on my wedding day.

Every year, we establish a budget of around $300 and take off for Art Connection. It is romantic for us and a day filled with art-hunting surprises. This year, our friends the McDermott’s joined us. They, too, love art and adventure. We headed downtown around 11:00 to sit in the blazing Alabama April sun, listening to bluegrass as we ate carnival food that is always greasy, smothered with something yummy, and washed down with cold beer from plastic cups.
This year, there were more artists’ tents than ever. We’ve enjoyed watching some artists we see year after year evolve and become more brilliant. We walk and stick our heads into every tent, pricing a smaller painting first to figure out if the artist is reasonable. These artists’s works are most likely not on the wall of the Louvre, so please—price your art in accordance with its being in a tiny little white tent in the middle of the Alabama sun. We understand it’s your job and your livelihood, but give us something to buy.

One year, we commissioned a print that had Thoreau running from the garden. We purchased half of the print in April and didn’t hear from the artist until August. That was scary. I hate how artists always have the excuse that they’re artists and can be late, unreliable, and unpredictable. Come to think of it—that’s a super game they’ve got going. Anyhow, we won’t do that again. There were so many emails not responded to—we were on pins and needles but incredibly pleased with the final result.

This year, we went into Linn Park, poking our head into artist’s tents with a firm purpose in mind. We wanted to purchase a Tracey Lewis print. Mr. Husband says that her work reminds him of Mario Bros. I agree. There’s something about the green and the buildings that takes one home to childhood. We’ve drooled over her work for two years. This year, we did it. We couldn’t afford a giant, framed print like we wanted, so we have to frame it ourselves. One day, it will grace our dining room wall. It made us very happy to find what we wanted. Staring at her work and getting lost in it gives us a feeling of calm.

We also bought a small, framed print from a Latvian artist named Marina Terauds. Her work is mythical, mystical, and a bit on the odd side. Perfect for our guest bath. We were looking at smaller $40 pieces, trying desperately to stay in budget, but we found this work to be not only in budget but also to connect to our very first date. The work is entitled “Theatre” and reminds us of how amazed Mr. Husband-not-quite-Boyfriend-then was to find someone else who liked Shakespeare and wanted to go to plays in town. It was a bond that was made that first night at Dave’s Pub that we carry with us every day. We share a love of art and celebrate that mutual love every spring at Art Connection.

1 comment:

countrypeapie said...

Oh my gosh -- what an amazing wedding picture!