Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Show & Tell, Version 3.01

"Art is making something out of nothing and selling it." (Frank Zappa)

Eleven art shows in 12 weeks. Three states and 8,387 miles. Four record-setting shows (sales-wise) and only one real stinker. Phewww!

But how can it be September? Last thing I remember, it was early June and I was packing the truck for our first summer show. I've been driving for three months, stretching canvas 'till 2 AM, and framing an endless line of prints.

It's a good thing we have such interesting customers to keep us entertained on our journeys. When perfect strangers walk into our booth and take in my photographs, Tracy and I just never know what might come out of their mouths (summer samples below).  My scattershot responses often catch them off guard, as well.

So, what did we do on our first weekend off all summer? We gathered friends, climbed a mountain to pick huckleberries, and then trundled off to the pub for a greasy dinner and a chance to catch up on a summer's worth of gossip. It was a good start for our return to normalcy -- whatever normal may be.


Gossamer Wings (c) John Ashley

"It looks like somebody's brain at a Grateful Dead concert," he tells me, pointing at 'Gossamer Wings.' Sorta' makes me wonder about the stories he might share after a couple of beers.

"These are spectacular. Keep taking pictures." (Argghh. Don't you read my blog? I don't 'take pictures,' I create photographs.)

"Now," he asks seriously, "are these pictures taken with a 'real' camera?" Oh, the directions I could run with this one -- if only Tracy wasn't listening in...

"I go to a lot of art shows and I see a lot of photographers. I usually think, 'I can do better than that.' But not you. You're good." Wow. How's a simple country boy supposed to respond to such a compliment?

"Now, do you do the photography and the painting, too?" Yes, I tell him. I don't even try to explain the concept of light painting to him.

First Light (c) John Ashley
She's staring at 'First Light.' "I want to cry, that's so beautiful! That's exactly what it looks like." Finally, someone who's seen what I see. I meet so many people who have never seen the red rocks of Lake McDonald, or the colors in the Milkyway, or even the path of the full moon.
"These are fabulous!" another woman declares after buying a print of 'First Light' and two others. "No," she corrects herself, "they're better than fabulous!" Happy to be of service. Tell your friends...


"These are more than photographs," she struggles for words, "you capture a feeling." Hmmm. That's a good thing, right?

"You have the best photography. It's just so much more intimate than the others." Maybe that explains why I blush so easily...

"I like to see animals when they're happy." I like to see customers when they're happy.

She's decked out in beads and tie-dye. "What do you do, give the animals Valium when you photograph them? They're all smiling." What a coincidence. She's smiling so much more than the other customers...


"There's a horse with a Buddha eye."
There's a person with a colorful imagination!

"What is that?" asks 5-yr-old girl. I tell her, it's a horse's eye. She looks at me, puzzled, "I didn't know horses had that color mascara."


"Did you take lessons?" the couple inquires. "My brother-in-law says he's gonna' buy a camera and do this. I told him to take some photography lessons, but he said that cameras these days do everything for you."  Go ahead, I laugh to myself, make me look good.

"Thank you," he says in earnest. "I want to shake the hand of a patient man." Just don't ask me to babysit, I reply.

"I gotta' get a trout photo -- so I know my enemy." Sounds like maybe he's lost more battles than he's won.


Ducks in a Row (c) John Ashley
Lake McDonald Pearls (c) John Ashley
That one's a moonbow,
I tell him.
He points to the canvas
hanging next to it,
"So that one's a duck-bow?"


"Your photography really stands out from the others," she explains. "Take that mountain over there" (points to booth across from me). "You see it in different seasons but it's the same thing over and over again. Your pictures are different. They say something." Comments like this usually leave me muttering, blushing, and staring at my feet.

He asks in all seriousness, "So, you worked for National Geographic?" Comments like this just leave me laughing out loud...

"You really capture the fur and feathers -- they're touchable." That's because I'm the rare 'Montana Zen Hunter,' a pacifist blend of Raven and Coyote... (Hmm, that sounds like a roasted coffee bean mix.)


Leap of Faith (c) John Ashley
"It's raining ducks!" she tells her mom.

"She'll love it," she declares after buying a print for a friend. "Her cats will probably sit under it all day."

"That mom has it figured out. That's what I need to do," she explains while making pushing motions with her hands.

"Yeah," he tells her, "but they don't show the rest of the picture. An eagle comes and eats them." Steady there, John. Bite your tongue. You were once a teenage male, too.


"I'm a photographer and I don't normally buy other people's work, but your photos are phenomenal." Not only was he complimentary, but he also bought two prints.

"Where do you find these?" Well, they're everywhere. You just have to learn how to see them...

She points at 'Peaceful Lamb' and tells her husband, "Every time you order rack of lamb, I'm going to show you this picture."


Mt. Reynolds Milkyway (c) John Ashley

"I've seen that one before. That's from Hubble (the space telescope)," he tells me matter-of-factly. Uh, no, actually I was on planet Earth when I created that photo. "You took that?" Yes.
"That's a real photo?" Yes. "Wow..."
My thoughts exactly, but for different reasons...



"This is above and beyond what you normally see (at art shows)" Flattery will get you places.
"I'm enjoying your paintings." Don't even go there, John...

"I like your photography," she says. And I like your taste in art, I shoot back. Tracy rolls her eyes -- did he really say that?


1 comment:

  1. Always enjoy reading your customer comments and your replies (whether said out loud or not!). Very entertaining.

    I think most of them can't find the correct words to compliment you because they get tongue tied after seeing your art!