Sunday, December 5, 2010

hoagie smell

There are some fringe benefits to being a potter. I was wrangling the 3 kids from the childwatch at the YMCA, and Miss Kim, the afternoon baby sitter said, "Is that all from swimming once a week?" I looked at her strangely, and she said, "Your arms look like Michelle Obamas!" How great is it that when someone tells you your arms look like the first lady's, it's a compliment? Miss Kim nodded when I said, "I'm a potter," but I could see from her expression that my response wasn't sufficient. Telling people I'm a potter is like telling them I'm an hermaphrodite. People have heard of hermaphrodites, but they still aren't sure they actually exist.

My husband's office is in the same building as my clay studio. His office is a hive of activity. Bankers, architects, developers, realtors are always coming in for meetings. Tim and his brother, Johnny, love to parade the visitors through my studio. I'm usually there in my Proctor & Gamble coveralls looking dirty. The visitors look at me like a zoo animal and at Johnny or Tim with surprise that they've gone to such lengths to recreate and maintain my natural habitat.

At times, the Philadelphia Museum of Art craft show had a similar feel. I know it's common for high society people to have fundraisers at the zoo or the aquarium. They walk around in black tie, eating canapes paying $1500/ticket to do so in the presence of rhinos. Apparently Chicago calls their event "Zoodio 54" which is brilliant. So someone on the board of the PMA suggested to revolve a fundraising event around real, live craftspeople. The opening night of the show is a posh event. The ticket prices are tiered by the hour, so to get in and see fresh craftspeople at 4 pm you pay $1500, or you can see rumpled craftspeople at 7 for $400.

I was annoyed that I hadn't read my literature, so I didn't know there was going to be great food at the event. I made the mistake of having a late lunch hoagie with everything on it. By chance I smelled my hands on my way back to my 10'x10' booth and realized they were pungent enough to fill the entire space with old luncheon meat, onion, pickle, oregano smell. Maybe a stench would have added to my authenticity as an exhibit, but I opted to run through the perfume floor of Macy's and let a gleeful homosexual with a British accent and pointy cowboy boots douse me thoroughly in a Guess perfume, Seductive.

My booth wasn't particularly seductive that evening. My pots are all displayed on cardboard boxes mounted to the wall. On the front of each box is an image of the aerial view of the pot that is on the box. If you're on your 3rd martini and you've not yet indulged in the mash potato bar it might look a little precarious and/or confusing. People would wobble outside of the booth and stare. One woman ventured in and grabbed a cup. "I love this one," she said, "but I don't like this one at all!" pointing to a sweet little ice cream bowl. "What a coincidence!" I said cheerfully. "I love your shoes, but I really hate your dress!" In the end, the show went surprisingly well, and it reminded me that I prefer to have other people sell my pottery for me.

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