Thursday, June 2, 2011

Old Town Art Fair & Compassion

This entry is from my friend Lynn Fisher who does wonderful porcelain and stoneware work. I'm copying this to my blog (with her permission) because I think it's important that we bring to light how some shows deal with a tragedy in an artist's life. Luckily, it's not all shows...

"I'd closed my home and studio up in mid-January and was gone for the next five-and-a-half months, working and doing fairs in Florida, and didn't get home until last Saturday. My brother was going to open the place up, turn on the water, etc., and discovered a fire just starting in the studio when he walked in the door. He turned off the gas, which stopped the fire, called 911, and then called me while I was still a couple hours from home. Apparently a tiny leak had formed in the furnace gas line which was near an outlet; the gas shot right into the outlet, feeding it a tiny but steady stream of gas that wasn't enough to blow the place up but was still enough to create lots of creosote. Some wood nearby had actually started to burn when he opened the door.

It might have started days ago, possibly even two weeks ago when there was an electrical storm here and two huge poplars were completely split open after being struck by lightening. That may have caused a short or spark in that particular outlet that may have hit the flexible metal gas line nearby. It all sounds stupid, especially since the furnace man had installed the gas line so close to the outlet. They were both hidden behind the furnace; if I'd known about it I would have had it changed immediately.

The photos don't do the damage justice, since most of the soot or creosote rose in the heat, covering the ceiling and 2/3s of the upper walls. Surprisingly, it didn't stick to certain surfaces -bisqued molds, for example, or some of the fabrics. The windows are still black in these photos, although moths and flies have left some delicate patterns of light where they brushed against the glass. I've since wiped some of the windows to let in more light but I'm not sure which is worse, the dark studio or or the light one that shows just how awful the place is. It's like a little den of horrors, a nightmare.

Once the studio is cleared out it will be gutted and rebuilt, but it will be several weeks before I can move back in. I won't get my hopes up for anytime earlier than mid-July.

Arg. What a thing to come home to! At least it isn't the total loss that it is for all those people who've been wiped out in floods or tornadoes. I feel really fortunate that it isn't worse!

So here it is, Bonnie, ready for you to share however you like. I think it might be nice to show what Old Town and its cavalier attitude is like to those of us artists who are suddenly faced with a situation completely out of their control. They are truly compassionate, sticking by their rules, and then making it even worse by telling me I don't need to apply again next year."

This is the shows response:

Hi Lynn: Thanks for the email and photos. We're going to have to be tough here, despite your obvious trouble, as it is less than two weeks until the show and we'll have to scramble to find a replacement for you. Further, it is our clearly-stated policy that late cancellations do not receive a refund and the artist may not apply to the next year's show. We must stick to the policy here. I'm sorry for all you're going through. We'll miss having you and wish you all the best.

Joan Goldstein

Exhibitors Committee Co-Chair

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