I’ll be showing my paintings at this great show in Allentown this Saturday. It’s a well-established show held in an arboretum/park in the middle of the city – a lovely green space created about one hundred years ago and well-cherished today. The event is organized by the West Park Civic Association.
I really love going to this show – I would say it is one of my two favorite events. I’ve come here for almost two decades, I think. I didn’t make it here last summer – my second cataract operation interfered. So I’m extra-ready to be back in my space (#108, if you are interested, and I have occupied this location since the first year I did the show!).
The park is located between Linden and Turner, 15th and 16th, Allentown, PA, 10 AM to 5 PM, and the weather looks just perfect for a show.
We arrived nice and early, around 8 AM. The location is only about 10 minutes from home so it was easy to do this. My location was in the 8600 block of Germantown Avenue, and I chose this spot at the intersection of Germantown and Bethlehem Pike. The day was warm, sunny, and quite windy.
I had decided to do 2 paintings, since I tend to work better if I move between pieces – I don’t overwork the details and consequently muddy things up. I had two boards, 12″ x 16″, coated with a smooth gesso. Since I didn’t want to move my work area, I chose two views that I could see from my location.
So, I got to work.
Quite a few people were out visiting the event – there were 40 or so artists at work on the Avenue. (I’ll take this chance to say thank you to my friends John N. and David W. for stopping by!) Here is a look at the progress on Painting #1:
And here is Painting #2:
And here is where I finished with them. For the day, anyway.
I had some extra time and I had brought a larger board with me, so I started on it, using a view looking up the street. I was tired and losing focus, so I left this painting in a much more unfinished state (and it’s already had some changes made, believe me, one day later!).
At three o’clock, my husband and I took one of the paintings, the crosswalk one, to be displayed at the reception.
And that was the event!
I came away from it with some insights about how I like to work that I had not focused on before. Honestly, I don’t like painting in this manner – I mean in an official plein air event. I felt under pressure to stay with a depiction of what I saw in front of me, and no more – my painting was totally dictated by what I saw outside myself, rather than from what comes to me inside my own head. I realized that even when I paint from a photo, I feel free to make changes, to use it only to spark other ideas, and most of all, to access memories or feelings inside me. Here – I didn’t feel much connection to what I was painting and so I don’t like what my results were. Which is why I say the paintings were finished – for that day! But not finished, the way I feel something is finished.
I did enjoy being outside and working, though I would make sure to be in the shade, and on a less windy day – the paint dried as quickly as I stroked it on the surface. I struggled a bit with my materials, I guess I’m saying.
So what I need to be doing is, working outside but painting from the inside – of my own head. And if I can combine the actual world with the internal one, I’ll have a happier result, both in my feeling about my work and the actual paintings themselves.
This insight is nothing cosmic, but it did help me put things into perspective. I now have three paintings started off and where they will go from here – we will see!
Background – this show is hosted by InLiquid, a Philadelphia organization devoted to the interests of artists. The event features art costing $199 and below and runs the whole weekend, but I did only Saturday’s session.
The show is held in the Crane Arts Building, a renovated warehouse from 1905. The building now houses art organizations, artist studios, art exhibition space, and offices for businesses, including architects.
It’s located in a section of town that was formerly industrial, fell into disuse, and now is being reborn as a residential section. It’s a coming place to live, especially for young people. I visited this part of town quite a bit when I worked for a bank 35 years ago, when it was already in decline, seeing customers in the factories and warehouses around here. I considered it an area in which to be cautious and aware at all times then. It is changing fast now – the new and the old are side by side. Decrepit warehouses, razor-wired lots, remodeled industrial buildings, and brand new (and expensive) houses stand side-by-side. If you see a vacant lot now, you can be sure it’s got an owner waiting for development.
I noticed several bikes chained up in front of the building, on the street. You would not have left your bike in the open out here, years ago.
One more thing, and then I’ll get back to discussing the show. About ten years ago, I visited this same location for a show, and I took a picture of a building across the street. I did the same, this year, and now I see it’s a craft beer brewing location. So, I’m telling you, things are changing here and I’m glad to see it.
My space was in the Ice Box Room, a section of the warehouse that was used for cold storage of seafood in the past and is now an exhibit space. We each got a booth area of 6 feet deep by 7 feet wide. Perfect for my table and two chairs. I planned my setup for simplicity because of the small space but it worked out great.
The show was crowded, lots of shoppers all day. True to the changing neighborhood demographics, there were a lot of young people. Sales were good and the people-watching opportunities were first-class.
There was an outside section to the show and the music stage was there – but we could hear the performances through the door opened to the outside. I was intrigued by one band, Kitty Rotten, who did the whole set (in 85 degree weather) in kitty outfits.
You know, I’ve done shows for a long time, and most of them are pretty similar. This one was out of my usual routine and I had a great time. I met some artists new to me and saw a lot of interesting work. I also got some nice attention for my work. Looking forward to next year.
The second half of next weekend, Sunday, June 5, I’ll be participating in a plein air event just a few minutes from home – in the Chestnut Hill section of Philadelphia.
I did this event last summer – you can read about it here. And I’ll let you in on something – though I said the painting was finished after the event – a few days later I took it out and did some more to it. It looked pretty similar, and yet – not! So that goes to show you that everything is subject to revision. Here’s the finished painting, and if you like, you can compare it to what I did on the plein air day.
Anyway, I had a great time, and I’m glad to be going back. I have a different location to paint this year – I’m at the top of the hill on Germantown Avenue, the 8600 block (last year I was in the 8300 block). If you are around, stop and say hello. I’ll be there (unless it rains, in which case there is a rain date of the next Sunday, June 12) from about 8 am to early afternoon.
I’ve got a busy weekend next week – two separate events.
The first one occurs on Saturday, June 4 – an event called “Art for the Cash Poor”.
In this show, every piece of artwork is $199 or less. A nice thing, this price level – there can be something to fit a lot of budgets. I’ll be taking my paintings here and though the show goes all weekend, I chose the option of exhibiting on Saturday only.
I’ve never done this show before, so – I’m looking forward to it.