There's A Storm A Brewing...

The weekend of June 10th and 11th we spent in Excelsior, Minnesota for Art on the Lake. It was our second year and we were very pleased to be back. This was the art show last year that really made us feel like we might be able to make a go of it. We were 1 of 4 winners of the Debbie Hart award. So we were very excited for our second time back.

Like last year, Saturday was once again HOT! Most of the day was spent chugging water, staying in the shade between customers, putting my feet in the cool waters of Lake Minnetonka and maybe napping behind the tent. The people still came out though and we had a great day. Very relieved that it did not get quite as hot as the forecasted, which was good for the encaustic! We may have melted, but it did not :)

That evening we went out to eat at Maynards and enjoyed a very good meal and cocktails. Gave us time to cool of in the A/C before heading back to our camper parked in the parking lot. With no electricity. It was not cool in there. Before heading to bed, which was actually pretty early for us, we did check the weather forecast. Looks like storms were inevitable for the next morning. Never a good thing when you have your livelihood sitting in a tent out in the weather. We have one that is designed for what we do, but it is still no match for severely strong winds. Up until this point, we have been pretty lucky and have avoided anything to terrible. We have heard stories, and went to sleep hoping for the best. We were awoken at 5 a.m. to someone in the parking lot hooking up their trailer. Hmmm. Odd. I checked the weather. Nothing horrible on the radar. But some storms starting in the west. There is an email from the show director to please wait till 8 a.m. before deciding on packing up or not. She was going to make the call at that time and continue to watch the weather. Its a tough call. Here we are risking our art by staying, but by leaving we are also guaranteed to make no money for the day. It's a gamble either way. We go back to sleep. A little before 7 we wake up again. Skies are darker. Storms to the west are definitely going to hit us. Decide to get up and close up the bed up that we were sleeping on before the rain hits. No watches or warnings were out. We go back to lay down and wait for 8:00 and the email. I startle awake about 5 minutes to. I immediately check the weather. Yup, there is a warning now for us. We are definitely going to get hit. Says potential for 60 mile an hour winds and golf ball size hail. My heart drops. Well, the last place I want to be for that is our camper. The art and tent are on their own at this point. I wake Randy up to tell him I would maybe prefer to go elsewhere. I do not like storms. I do not like being somewhere unsafe in storms. I need to go somewhere safer. I hear a noise in the parking lot. It is one of the shuttle drivers. I decide to go chat with him to see if he has heard any news. It is 8:00. Is there a show or not? He says that they have postponed the show and have asked people not to go down to the park. That they are evacuating everyone to the elementary school. Well, alrighty, sounds good to me. I inform Randy, we throw on clothes and get a ride. By the time we get to the school, this is coming at us. Yeah...not ok. 

I don't think I have ever seen a sky that green. And green like that usually means one of two things, hail or a tornado. Please lord let it be hail. There was maybe a group of 20 of us in the school. Nervous laughter and conversation commenced while we waited. Our two tent neighbors were there and we chatted. Then the rain started. We went to the windows. The wind started. It was a good wind. Yup, we agreed that it would probably take out a few tents that were not properly staked. But most of us were pros and I think spirits were still a little high. Then a gust came and it became very quiet. In that moment I knew it was probably gone. I prepared myself. My eyes teared up but I kept myself from crying. We know the risks and this is part of it. My heart hurt. So we waited. A man told horribly dumb jokes and we laughed. The tension was palpable. We shared mini donuts and listened to tales of other storms from the veterans. Laughing and trying not to think too much about the current situation. But it was there, the wondering. The waiting. Stupid storm just get over with! The wind died down and it was mostly rain. We started to get antsy. People just wanting to leave and go see. A call came over the radio. Some tents were down, but some were still up. Hope. Hope ours was one of them. A group of people ran out and they were off. We didn't have a car there so we waited. About another 10 minutes passed. So wished we had our friend John's number so we could get an update. Another call. They said that while they wanted us to wait until the lightening stopped, they could not stop us. But that the shuttle drivers would not be running until it was all clear. Randy and I looked at each other and decided to go. We walked to the camper and threw on differnet clothes and piled into the truck. Quiet we were. The anticipation. As we got closer we could see the outside row of tents that were sponsors. Many were down and twisted. I tried to see ours, but there was no way. There was no place to park, so Randy dropped me off. I made my way. Tents were down everywhere. Twisted. Flipped over. Caved in. I prepared myself. Hoped, but thought the worst. I weaved my way in and out of the destruction. It was so random. My heart pounded. 

And there it finally was. Our row. Our section. Where was our tent? I couldn't find it. I was confused. There was an extra one. And one not where it should be, but where was ours?

And then there it was. I was literally standing next it. It was still standing. Unharmed. Ours is on the left in the above picture.

I let out a sob. Relief. Joy. Guilt. Sadness. All the feelings. We were o.k. I couldn't believe it. I immediately text Randy. "We are ok!" I looked around, tears running down my face. I started to figure out what had happened. The woman next to us's tent was hit by another and pushed back about 20 feet behind ours. a different tent in its place. Next to them were oil painters and their tent was destroyed, painting strewn about. To the other side of us, all those tents were standing. Randy made it to where I was and we walked around. Quiet. Taking it all in. Feeling sadness for our fellow artists. Spoke with a couple others we knew there. Two friends were packing up to leave. Her jewelry blown everywhere and her neighbor/friend who's inventory of clothing was soaking wet. They would both dry out and recover, but definitely done for the day. We had not eaten yet, so we went to go find food and coffee. I felt like a zombie walking around the store. Wet and relieved and sad. Ate back at our camper, changed clothes again and headed back down to the site. We helped neighbors pick up, take a part tents, hauled the remains to the "pile". Business people came out to help. The Boy Scouts and random people all came out to help. It was heartwarming. Happiness filled my heart. It was announced that the show would go on. The wreckage was quickly removed and other artists were given the choice to stay or go. After about 2 hours, about 50% of the grounds was cleared. Half of us stayed. Us being among that half. The rest of the day went on pretty much like a normal art fair. Customers came out. More so than we expected. For us, our weekend was saved. 

What started like any other art show certainly did not end like any other art show. We lived through a big fear. We came out ok on this one. Watched others not so lucky. Realizing how important staking and weighting is, we have looked into revamping and making sure it is done even better. We had to get insured before this show, and I am now glad we forked out the money. Just another lesson in life. Another thing to make us appreciate all the good that does happen. Sigh...

Onto Lanesboro next weekend. 50% of chance of storms. Fingers are crossed.

"Help me hold up the wall!"

Normally Randy would be heard saying this to me while we are setting up or taking down at an art show. This time, it was me yelling it to him during a storm that hit while in Bayfield, WI over the weekend. 

Let me try and tell the tale...

It started with us getting there for set up a little later than we really wanted to. So tensions were already a little bit high. You have to understand that Randy and I have very different approaches to setting up. He's very much "let's do this and do it now!". I am more, "let's take our time and look for butterflies". So yeah, complete opposite. But, we arrived, realized it was a very tight area for parking and unloading and knew we were not going to be able to do any of this with the camper attached. (We use our camper to haul art in as well as sleep in.) to find our campsite first as there was nowhere to park and ditch it for awhile. Got checked in, found our space, set up the camper and realized the extension cord was about 10 feet short. O.K. Off to see if I could borrow one from the resort. Nope. But, I could purchase one for $50. Fine. At least now we have an extra. Tensions get a little higher. We are now running later which irritates Randy and I hate spending money which irritates me. 

We get back to the park, check in and go find our space for the weekend, #3. Right along the lake, what a view! I was so excited. We get to our spot and...what the? First off, it tilts right towards the lake, but then there is about a two foot ditch that runs horizontally right through the middle of it. How are we supposed to set up here? Not happy. There was no way we would be able to set up our walls and have them safe, let alone even remotely secure or straight. So I get to break the news to the already slightly irritated Randy. It went better than I hoped, as I was still alive (ha). I talked with the woman helping with the set up and she tried to find another spot. Let's just say, Memorial Park was not very even as far as ground was concerned. After going back and forth between two spaces and with every moment that passed Randy's vein starting to pop out his forehead more, we decided to go with #1. Just two down from where we were supposed to be, we were hopeful we could make it work.

So the back breaking work begins of hauling all the walls and the tent out of the truck. Since we are nowhere near our space, it is carrying and hauling back and forth. Let's just say we must have each reached our FitBot goals for the day within that 45 minutes it took. It is not easy work. We are sweaty. But I am excited for all the calories I am burning and ponder if my butt has shrunk any? We get the tent halfway set up, the walls are starting to be set in place and the vein is lessening it's pounding in Randy's forehead. Things are looking up and we might just do this! And then the nice lady comes back and very apologetically informs us the people she thought cancelled are actually here. (Insert a small stifled scream here and imagine every fiber of my body desperately trying not to scream out vulgarity.) O.K., now what?!? (Crap, the vein increases it's pounding again twofold!)

Long story short, they make us a new spot way on the other end. So we schlep everything once again to the other side. (Are you smaller yet butt?) The nice lady helped us and felt so horrible. Mistakes happen, what are ya gonna do. I am happy to report we did manage to finish setting up and came out of it still liking each other AND before it was completely dark. Bonus!

Saturday the weather was perfect. Mid 70's, partly cloudy, seriously a picture perfect summer day. We got set up and waited for the people to arrive. And waited. And waited....

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So it turns out that the attendance was down by 50% or more due to 10+ inches of rain earlier in the week in the region that left many of the major roads closed. So unfortunately with no people, there are no sales. Bummer. Big, fat, bummer. Sigh. Well, let's just say it was a loooooong two days. It's hard when your livelihood depends on people and Mother Nature. And speaking of Mother Nature...

The show ended at 4 on Sunday and the rule is no breaking down until that time. We spent most of the day ticking down the minutes. At about 3 we noticed the sky getting pretty dark. Hmmmm, then glued to the radar. You could see the look of "oh crap" on most of the vendors faces. There we all sit with our valuables and livelihoods in tents waiting. Unfortunately in 2006 (blog post here with pics) the show was hit with straight-line winds and most every tent was destroyed and ended up in the lake. So, people are still a little jumpy. Also, I hate storms. At 3:30 we are given the word that the storm is headed this way, go ahead and tear down! I check the weather and it says it is severe with 60 mph winds and indeed looks to be headed our direction. We start to make a sorta plan in our heads. But really, everything we need to break down is in the Suburban and it is nowhere nearby. It is a mad rush! People running, cars being pulled up...yikes. We decided to ride it out and not try and break down until after the storm. We feel our walls are solid and we have good tent and it is weighted. So we grab what boxes we could out of the vehicle and get back to the tent and box up what we can and get everything in from outside and batten down the hatches and hope for the best. There is a building right next door and if needed will abandon ship if it feels like it is getting bad enough. Well, that seemed like a good plan. Anyway, holy carp, it hit. Wind, rain and hail. No time to abandon ship, we were stuck in the tent. My heart was pounding! At one point I peeked outside and saw people scurrying everywhere, a woman ducked under a tree trying not to get hit by hail. You could hear people screaming and what sounded like things breaking. I admit, I tear up a little when I think about it still. Then the wind picked up and I could feel the one wall caving in. So we held it up and hoped that the giant pine we were set up under wouldn't come crashing down. Normally I would have been terrified, but everything happened so fast, I didn't have time to be. As we were holding up those walls, the water suddenly came rushing in. And not just a little, a lot. Inches. As the wind subsided we let go and scrambled to get anything that was on the ground off the ground. I then peeked back outside and realized we had set up right in front of the storm drain. Well, that explained the rush of water. Yup, everything from the road and parking lot drained right next to us. Sigh. It finally stopped and we unzipped and checked out the damage. I was so happy to say, I saw none. Most people came through o.k. with no major losses or injuries. Thank goodness. It was the same for us, some minor damage but nothing too bad. Sigh of relief! We hugged and were thankful and decided to just take our time breaking down. So we did. We got our first load done and we drove to the campground.

We were met by a gentleman outside of our camper. Weird. Randy starts to unload and he, the man, proceeds to apologize to me and inform us that we had sort of a leak. Leak? Apparently the storm hit pretty hard at the campground and when the man came out he walked around and noticed we had water leaking, well no, rushing out of our camper. I'm sorry what? I have video, he says. I watch it. Yup indeed, there is water rushing out of the camper. Not a leak, a gush. Sigh.... He had turned the water off at the spigot so it was thankfully no longer doing it. I sent Randy in to check it out, wasn't sure I could bear to look. He informs me, yup, it was a good leak! and starts to toss out all of the rugs. So the guy again apologizes and I thank him again and go to investigate. We turn the water back on and sure enough it's a geyser under the sink. A hose had popped off and with the city water connected, it ran and ran and ran and ran. Not good. We fixed it. I am a very positive person and usually try to stay so, but I admit that while I was sweeping out inches of water, I cried. It was a tough weekend. So I cried, but only for a minute. Only because that's all the time I had anyway, we still had more work to do!

We were officially the last people to take down. But we did it just before dark. We are getting pretty good at that.

It was a rough weekend. I won't lie. But in the end, no one was hurt. We made enough to cover our butts. We met some fun people, like the couple next to us and the guy that video taped our camper. They were great. We also ate some really yummy food. Check out these places if you are ever in town; The Fat Radish, the Deli, Maggie's and Gruemke's (I think). Bayfield is also beautiful. The views are spectacular and the town quaint. So that was good.

And lastly, Randy and I got to spend time together and doggone it if we don't have a story to tell now! (I think we'll be back next year.)



Getting Ready

Many people think as photographers we spend our days just hanging out and taking pictures. That would be so awesome, but unfortunately days like that rarely get to happen. Sigh... We have the show in Bayfield, WI coming up this weekend and so it is a scramble to ready ourselves. There is a lot that goes into an art show and taking pictures is usually on the bottom of the list. Yesterday we spent the day repainting the walls we use to hang the art on. Well, I did that job. Randy spent the day doing his favorite thing (most of the time anyway), making frames. Today I am updating the website and getting those frames onto it, writing this post and packing the camper. Excited for Bayfield, and as usual nervous. Fingers crossed....

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Debbie Who?

We were very surprised to receive a Debbie Hart Award at Art on the Lake in Excelsior MN. This was the largest of the three shows we have done so far and did not even remotely expect to be a contender. We were able to find out more about Debbie and what this award means from the lovely couple in the tent next to us. She sounded like an amazing human being who did wonderful things for this art show and the community. Thank you so much to the judges for this honor.

Sturgeon Bay

We had the great pleasure to spend Memorial Weekend in Sturgeon Bay, WI located in the ever popular Door Co. This was also the first big art show of the season, and to make it more special...our first show together. Awwww, I know ;)

It also meant finding out if anyone was even going to like our stuff. And if we could work together. Yikes! Want to see something exciting? Take Mr. Type A "Let's get this done!" and pair him with Mrs. Type B "Oh look, something shiny!" and see what happens. Well, I am happy to say, we lived to tell the tale. Even after driving through torrential rain for several hours and setting up in the rain and wet grass, we still like each other.

Oh yeah...and people liked our stuff, we even won Second Place for Two Dimensional.