Silver Linings

I paint clouds and cloudscapes. It is said that every cloud has a silver lining; a cherished familiar idiom assuring that a bad situation holds the possibility of something good. A silver line around a dark cloud indicates that the sun is behind it. Cloudscapes are a unifying element of my work. I never thought of their dark side in any larger sense than painting a storm scape….until yesterday.

Saturday morning The Quiet Waters Park Art Show outside Annapolis, MD began with a chilly gloom that by noon blossomed into a lovely sunny day. It was an elegantly curated show of about 70 artists in the formal gardens of lush parkland surrounded by quiet ponds and waterfalls. Three different musical groups graced the outdoor stage next to my corner booth. There came a brisk friendly crowd and most of us did very well with sales.

On Sunday morning, the second day of the show, when I checked in at the front gate the keeper told me that there had been extreme wind through the night and a lot of damage to the show. As I wound through the park I hoped my Trimline Tent with a suspended 40 lb. weight hanging from each corner would have held up as it has through many hurricane gusts and torrential downpours the past 3 years.

I arrived to learn that a wind shear cyclone had cut through the show in a short straight line and had demolished each booth in its path. One was embedded in a tree, others turned inside out. Shattered glass and pottery shards covered the walkways.
I looked to the top of the hill where my gudisarts booth was supposed to be and it was gone. The carpet was still there with all the items I store inside over night still neatly in place.

About 20 feet away I discovered my booth. It had been lifted straight up, twirled around and finally came to rest on one corner wedged between an iron garden sculpture and some hedgerows. Three of the weights were still dangling from the poles. One leg was driven 6 inches into the earth. All the paintings were off their hooks in heaps and stacks. The poles were bowed and twisted, the stay bars bent to various angles.All of the paintings were damaged. Either the frame, the painting or both were cracked, smashed or ripped through.

Needless to say I was upset and PISSED! But at who? At what? That’s where the silver lining comes in. Thankfully no one was injured. Mercifully my tent did not damage anyone else’s booth. Luckily this was my last show of the season leaving me time to rebound.

As I write this on Monday morning, 24 hours later, I’m thinking about when, as a student at the Corcoran School of Art, we had an exercise in which we were instructed to destroy our favorite piece and then reinvent it. We learned that there are no mistakes in art.Art, like love, is not a finite commodity. When there is loss, as there inevitably is, there is every good chance that something far greater will grow in its place.

And so part of the sliver lining is that I have enjoyed a wonderful 2018 season of art shows and festivals. It warms my heart when I think of my paintings at home with my dear collectors. It delights me to paint them and to see them make others smile. As inconsistent as the weather conditions and crowds can be in this biz, one thing is always the same: the joy and generosity of the other artists, my colleagues.

I’m not sure how I will reorganize and rebound as I process through the detritus of this stunning incident, but I will paint because that’s what I do and that is who I am…an artist. That is my silver lining.