Our daughters Rose and Pearl are pictured here at a local antique and craft show that happened in our neighborhood. We had a pretty humble presentation with a card table, an old trunk and a few other improvised displays. We have also gone down to the farmers market on Futon street several times already this year. When we go to the farmers market we walk pulling wagons and pushing carts like we walked right out of the 19th Century. We are not pulling in much money as we do these events but there are other things happening. We are learning how to share our art with people, all kinds of people. We need to be polite and respectful. We make every effort to explain how we do things and why when people ask. The environment we create with all of our hand made goods is very enchanting and causes people to stop and look and as they do they can't help but drop down into that place of wonder and imagination.
While we practice bringing our art to the street we also meet the other venders who are also doing what they can to share there handicrafts and farm produce. These people are a rugged bunch with a taste for adventure and risk. They come to the markets with great optimism hoping to make some money as a return on the many hours spent creating their products and it seems that almost every time the return on their investment is very nominal. So why do we continue? Perhaps there is something else going on here even more important than making money. Perhaps we are slowly and clumsily making our way back to a world made by hand. Perhaps the farmers and crafters and artists are leading the american culture back to a place were we new how to work with our hands and create the things we needed for every day life. Do you remember the Fox Fire book series that was made in the 70s the wrote down the stories of the old people of the Ozark mountains that still new how to heal with wild herbs and make bent wood rockers out of the hickory that grew on their side of the mountain. They new how to make and use a root cellar and make wine out of elder berries. In these days we are living through the collapse of a culture that had become just too ridicules, too unreal. The unreality of our way of living in America is reflected in the bizarre characters of the entertainment like Michael Jackson, Pamela Anderson, and Andy Warhol who seemed to float around in queer world of their own making at others expense. It is also like the chickens created by the poultry industry that reach the butchering stage so quickly in their little cubicles but if allowed to live past their peek stage of plumpness would tumble over unable to support their own weight like the heavy heads of the peony flower that lay on the ground as soon as they open their blooms in June.
My heart actually goes out to some of the eccentric entertainment personalities because we are of the same tribe. But perhaps what were are learning while we sweat under the hot Michigan sun at these open air markets with our lovingly handcrafted items spread out for all to see and few to buy is how to be artists simply woven into the fabric of every day life walking on pavement instead of air. While we set up our booth of art in between kettle corn and petunias venders we are learning what it means to make art that is some how magical and practical at the same time.
After all what are artists if not pioneers? We are out front cutting a trail and eating what ever we can find to chew and swallow. Jesus asked the people what they had expected to see when they hiked out to here a John the Baptist sermon, "a man dressed in fine clothes?" Of course not. The profits did worry over what they were wearing or were their next meal was coming from. They had bigger fish to fry.