Buddha Santa, sentimental tears and kids as clients

My booth at the Hand Made Here Boutique Art Sale, Calgary, Nov. 2011

I have just finished my busy show and sale season with a show in Calgary, Alberta and one here in my home town of Canmore, Alberta. Of course, I love selling my work to new people, but as usual, I think one of the best things to come out of these art sales is talking to a wide variety of fellow art-lovers. Here are a few gems from my recent shows.

The first day of my Calgary sale, after selling the majority of my wood sculptures, something magical happened. A friend came by with her boys (ages 10 and 6) and her youngest seemed mesmerized by my “Jolly St. Nick” carving. He picked it up and had that look written all over his cute little face: the one where a piece of art has got you by the heartstrings. He said, “I want this.” His mom gently said they would think about it and to put it back because they were going to walk around and look at the other 21 tables before buying anything.

My Jolly St. Nick carving, renamed by his new owner: “Buddha Santa”.

He came back several times and he would pick up the Santa, hold him, look at him, put him down. Eventually he came back and announced, “I am buying him. But, can I call him Buddha Santa instead?” I agreed it was a much better name for this round, happy fellow.  After the transaction, his mom told me he was using his own saved money. I was honored to have a six-year-old as my youngest-ever collector. (Incidentally, he usurped the position held by his brother, who bought a gnome wood sculpture from me last year!)

At this same sale, I was showing a limited edition block print called “Summer Afternoon” with a small boy fishing by a river. A woman stood in front of it for a long time, then sighed. “That brings tears to my eyes,” she told me. “My son used to sit like that and fish all day when he was little.” When I told her it was based on a photo of my son, now 7, she smiled and said, “Mine’s 27 now!” She bought it and told me how wonderful it made her feel. I assured her it brought me delight to know she had it, too!

Limited Edition Print “Summer Afternoon” based on my son by the river

That same print captured the attention of another mom at the Canmore show. This woman stayed in my booth a while with a toddler on her hip. As she held the unframed print, trying to decide, her little boy poked his pudgy finger at the print and declared in his just-learned language: “That’s ME, mommy! That’s ME!!” We both smiled, and he insisted again as if she hadn’t heard, “Mommy!! That’s MEEE!” She turned to me and said, “Sold.” She chose my print numbered 8/9 because her son was born in August of 2009. So cool.

One woman picked up my wood creations and said wistfully, “Your work looks like a carver I once knew in Cape Breton (Nova Scotia). Her carvings were in a book about Christmas and carved Santas.” Immediately, I knew who she meant and asked if it was “The House of Wooden Santas” by Kevin Major with carvings by Imelda George. This is a book that another person told me about a year ago and has quickly become one of my Christmas favorites. She said, “Yes! My family owns several of her original carvings, and your work reminds me of hers!” I wondered if she had any idea what a compliment that was!

So many other neat things come out of community art shows. I always meet new people, deepen connections with other artists who attend, and generally have a great time hanging out and talking about art. I even came home with some wonderful art pieces from other artists, too, but that’s another blog!

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