I should be sleeping but here is what's going on:
I had a legitimate excuse to skip out on the opening tonight in Memphis, J had a 911 incident at the lake involving a tree, a ladder, a falling branch and a badly sprained ankle. Fortunately he had his cell phone with him. He doesn't make a fun patient, especially on crutches. I thought I'd been sent a good excuse to skip the Memphis trip, but my sense of responsibility got the best of me. It's getting worse... not the responsibility thing, the dread of openings.
It wasn't always this way, but it sure has become this way. I've been trying to reason through it, wondering what changed over the years, why do I love to make the work, but hate to have to stand in front of it saying 'this is the best I can do, please say something nice about it.' The three hour grin-a-thon.
Early on, there were the festivals in parks... I'd be up and on the road, sometimes as early as 3am, be set up and grinning by 8 or 9am. Be there a day or two, socially adept at talking about my work, then head home. I did this regularly for about ten years when galleries finally took over the selling end of things for me. And they do it very well. The only catch is the occasional opening thing. Even though there were the usual jitters I always had a good time... what's different now?
Okay, let's analyze this. The openings I enjoyed most were in New Orleans. That's where I built my career, where I had the most friends, art support groups, most of them showing up for each other's openings. A great party event, a crowd I knew... and I was of an age where I could remember names of the newly introduced.
So six years ago we make a move to a similar sized town with a thriving art community. An old friend introduces me around, the door is opened for me to build a new community, but it's different now. I already have a career that requires only time to produce, not support from organizations or social groups. The beginnings of an anti-social hermit are born. Openings here have all the same ingredients as before, my gallery couldn't be friendlier or more gracious, but I'm beginning to freeze up... and now I can't remember names and small talk is painful.
So what about out of town gallery openings? Well, the Atlanta gallery has been in business long enough to be able to set a few of their own rules, so they just go with featured artists shows involving invites, but no formal opening so I missed that bullet. A number of out of state shows over the years accepted the fact that I would be unable to attend without question. A really terrific opening was in Santa Fe in which a bunch of e-friends (pre-blog days, but known via email only) chose to make a road trip out of the event and we had a great time!
So here I am, sleepless when I should be snoring away in anticipation. But my work is done. The paintings are delivered, hung and tagged... what is my purpose for being there? I'm an old lady artist, struggling to remember to grin (the only face lift I'll ever have, so I try to make it a habit) and hoping to sound intelligent even though I probably didn't hear half of what was said. Anyway... and I'll put this in writing... this will be my last solo opening. Group shows of at least three, maybe, but never solo again. I give thanks for the many opportunities I've had over the years, but all I want now is a little decent wall space and to be excused from the party.
PS - And the poison ivy is still in full rampage... great!