It took a month to settle back in after Birmingham. Five nights in Birmingham and it started to feel like I live there now. There were a number of highlights for the three day event. I turned 51 on April 22, Earth Day, the day of artist load in. There was hardly a birthday present better than the opportunity to set up at an event and get back to work! I had been to see my family in the preceding few days. I had a wonderful time painting with my mother and father and visiting with so many family members I love. I felt surrounded by love.
The event was at Sloss Furnaces National Historic Landmark, which is right up my alley for adventure and fantasy. It is said the area is haunted and while I didn’t really think about that while I was there it is definitely a place one can feel. Sunday morning I devoted an extra 45 minutes walking through the corridors, feeling.
Birmingham has rockstar restaurants. I’ve been to several and have another list for next time in Birmingham. I’m not one to care as much about food but this place with such atmosphere can draw in even a non-foodie.
There were storms predicted and a storm arrived in the night on Saturday morning. Over 25 tents endured damages. Those of us whose tents were intact added help to put everything back together again. What no one expected was the storm that arrived after a clear afternoon on Saturday. In a span of 15 or 20 minutes something relative to a mini tornado crushed another 25 tents or more. Even tent weights flew through the air and over an eight foot fence.
I was zipped inside my tent thinking it was just a few drops of rain coming and wanting to wait it out, I texted my friend. By the time I realized something significant was arriving it was impossible to even unzip my tent to see out, though I tried; the pressure from the outside air was so strong. When I’m at events I wear my phone on a lanyard so I don’t lose it. There was a moment I knew I needed to get it to a relatively waterproof space on my body, like my backpack, and hang on to the tent pole not knowing what would happen next.
My tent with several hundred pounds of weight holding it down, quickly slid across the ground 20 inches. I was scared and then the whole thing was over, aside from the aftermath. There were people that were inside their tents and the entire tent flew off of cover. So far as I know no one was injured but flying tent weights could definitely have killed a person and people were aware of that in the calm after the storm.
I made a number of friends in Birmingham and helped every chance I got. At times I talk about, in the future, working for the Red Cross in disaster relief and I definitely had a startup round. Artists who thought they were going to have to leave the event, because of damage to their tent and art, some of those people, with help, had a great day the following day. A number of people at this event did well but not everyone. When you go to events look for people who need your support. If you can’t support them financially, support artists emotionally. It has been a confusing time for so many and in a variety of ways.
The reputation of shows right now is that people are definitely coming out to buy. I see some of that… enough for people to be talking, but a jeweler nearby made $45 all weekend. There are sometimes dead zones inside of events. Coordinators learn better for the following year.. Hearing my neighbor made $45 all weekend I couldn’t help but buy a ring. Some purchases are bought with love. Turns out the ring reminds me of my friend George who died suddenly last May and then afterward appeared repeatedly in photographs as a tiny turquoise orb. George was smart and could figure out how to make that happen from multiple cameras in multiple locations, I know it.
I fell in love with Birmingham, the people, the restaurants and atmosphere. Those who bought my art I thoroughly enjoyed visiting with and I could see a glimpse into Birmingham: the spirit and dignity of the people who live there. I can’t wait to go back!
Thank you for sharing in the experience,