An art show is a perfect place to people-watch. Being a student of human behavior, I love to just sit and observe. There are some people who will not cross the line into the tent. They look from the outside as if stepping across the line obligates them in some way. Others come right in, but just barely glance, as if stopping requires them to purchase. Many come in and make comments on the beauty of the work and how they really love one piece or another, but then they walk away empty handed. I have figured out there is no rhyme or reason to the actions of folks at an art show.
My favorite thing to do is to watch the reaction to the art itself. Wax is very textural. My friend Jessica and I encourage people to touch the art, which is quite the opposite of most of the vendors at a fine art show. That in itself sets us apart and makes those hesitant observers cross the line into the tent. The parade of people that come through to feel the work is satisfying to me in some way. I think because it connects myself as the artist, with them, the lovers of art. They tentively feel the silky smooth wax under their fingertips. Hesitating at first like they are afraid we were only kidding about touching the art. They are startled when their hands find the grooves, and bumps of texture hidden under cool wax. That hooks them, and from that point on they want to touch it all, smiling all the way around the tent. To me it is the best part of sitting all day at an art show.
I have a piece called Dandelions. It has a black silhouette of dandelions on a white background. I covered the image with wax, and then went back and carved it out so that it has a three dimensional look to it. That piece has been to 4 art shows. It has been touched by hundreds of people, most of whom comment on how they love it. It is one of the most popular ones I have created to this point. Yet no one buys it. Many go straight to it, like a magnet is pulling them. They feel it, and it speaks to them as if it is braille carved in that wax. Then they move past it. We have watched this and wondered why it is that so many walk away from that picture that drew them so strongly. We have been amazed it has lasted so long. Yesterday it finally sold…to a child.
It has since occurred to me that it is the child within us that is drawn to that picture. The remembrances call to the adults who enter our tent. Memories of running to a fluffy dandelion, picking it, and blowing the seeds to fly like little parachutes on the wind. They are pulled to it because it makes them feel that childlike feeling as they run their fingers over the image. It brings a smile every time. Yet the adult stands up and walks on. It took a child to recognize it without hesitation…to grab hold and to want to take the feeling home with her, so as not to forget it. She is holding on to the joy that we have all but forgotten. You can learn a lot people-watching at an art show.

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