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Behind the scenes: prepping the Spring Art Show

Given my current state of exhaustion :-) (as evidenced by the fact that I did not submit a blog entry yesterday!), I thought that it might be interesting to some of you to know the kind of events that go into an art show that involves roughly 130 artists and roughly 340 art objects in the main space of the show! (Technical and scientific project management was only occasionally THIS MUCH FUN! :-) )

Inquiring minds want to know!

(For any of you newcomers, I am currently president of the Livermore Art Association and co-chair of the Spring Art Show, the largest event of the Association’s fun-filled and jam-packed calendar year!) :-)

I wrote about some of the events of Monday and Tuesday, from painting to creating an array of display panels, pedestals, and tables that would HOLD 340 pieces of art. I did not talk about the HOURS of data input (hopefully with few errors – 10 1/2 years of scientific data base work and editing come in handy) and the many other preparations leading up to this week. The actual work on the array of display panels was rewarded by comments from the group that coordinates art purchases by the City of Livermore, who designated their purchases today (more about that later). The novel arrangement of display panels was said to be “more open” and “conducive to foot traffic” than earlier configurations, and appearing less “congested,” WHILE HOLDING MORE ART than last year’s configuration. Thanks, set-up crew on Tuesday!

I roamed around greeting artists and admiring their work and “directing traffic” during art submission and registration on Wednesday from 10 -2, All of the volunteers who processed the stream of artists, sometimes with an abundance of names from A-G and sometimes with names in the middle or end of the alphabet, DID A FANTASTIC JOB!

So did the two ladies who put together the “Back Room” where many sales of other pieces of art are conducted!

And the work did not end at 2 PM, or even hours after 2 PM….

Then, at 7:30 PM, my co-chair and I met with our judge, a full professor of art at Cal State East Bay. This charming, thorough, and conscientious expert spent a full FOUR HOURS, until 11:30 PM, judging the show. (So be careful about casual comments or “sour grapes” regarding the “judge….” :-) I personally got to bed after midnight, after completing a few more show-related tasks, and then I was up again before 6 AM to continue work.

I drove to The Barn at 7:30 AM, to retrieve a piece of information and to turn on giant, suspended heaters to warm the air for the morning activities. I returned home for some data base and labeling activities and then traveled back to the (now warmer) Barn by 9 AM to meet with my co-chair and her husband to “flip some identifying tags” and remove others. We completed these tasks by 10 AM, when the committee from the City of Livermore arrived to make “The City Purchases.” Thank you, City of Livermore! The City of Livermore purchased five works of art! The committee finished at noon, and I was already “behind and a liar” with regard to my promise to the printer to deliver the raw material for printing the Spring Art Show program, by “Thursday morning!”

Armed with the information about the City Purchases, I returned home, made some needed changes for the program and for labels of art works that contained mistakes or which, somehow, turned out to have different names, be done in different media, AND have different PRICES (amazing how that happens)! :-) I made it to the printer in Dublin, CA by 2PM.

Now, I have a little exercise for the enterprising among you to try. Take three, double-sided pieces of paper in “landscape mode” that each have two columns on a side that were generated from two documents: one an alphabetical list of artists, works, prices, etc. (five pages or nine columns worth) and one with three columns of data, and arrive at the contents of a “booklet” by folding the three double-sided landscape-mode pages, that will fit inside a previously printed “cover.” Now, examine the pages by “flipping” through the booklet that your made, to see whether the pages are still in the order that you want!

This is not “rocket science,” BUT IT SHOULD BE! :-)

Now – try it while “sleep-deprived!:-) The poor woman at the printers will tell you what I mean. I did this last year, and it did not take as long. I was AWAKE last year! :-) I was about to ask her if they sold BEER in their print shop, when I succeeded. :-)

I went home, checked my email, readied my recliner for “lift-off,” and slept for two hours! :-) I awoke to the sounds of my wife coming through the door.

I then returned the call from a woman who had submitted all of her pieces of art while on vacation, thanks to the assistance of a friend. One piece lacked any hanging hardware, and the other three were on the display panels. She had contacted me because the attempts of myself and others had failed to reach her, on vacation. I met her at the Barn; she installed the hanging wire and fasteners, and we will hang the last of her work tomorrow.

On my drive home, my co-chair called my cell, and I did a little computer-and-printer “technical support” by phone, which any of my past managers will tell you is one of my strengths. Then I had dinner and a glass of wine! :-)

Tomorrow will involve the transport of a PA system and two cases of wine glasses, the printing of labels to replace those with changes (“errors” is too strong a word :-) ), photography of the array of display panels and a sketch so that we can reproduce this configuration next year, and sticking around to greet my co-chair, who will conduct an Art Scavenger Hunt for schoolkids to roam the exhibit floor looking for items and images! Fun!

Just so that I would not get “bored” (I never understood how ANYONE, especially young people, can EVER get “bored”), I will also be talking to the Sanctuary Salon and Spa in Downtown Livermore, where I will display nine more photographic prints during the “Art and Wine Crawl” through numerous downtown locatioins on Friday evening! :-)

Then on Saturday, the Spring Art Show, itself, with the evening Reception, in which I will announce awards….

Stay tuned!

-Bill at

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