"I don't know, Amy, it's looking grim," I said to my best friend on the phone, as I headed east down North Avenue, less than a block away from Coldstone Creamery. "Oh...oh...oh--there is definitely someone buying ice cream!" I screeched into Amy's ear. I grabbed the door handle, expecting my eternal bad timing to render me ice cream-less outside a locked door. But no. Nothing could ruin this evening. Absolutely nothing! I thought as I effortlessly pulled open the door.
"Are you guys still open??" I yelled, excitedly.
The two employees looked at each other, then back at me. The older one said, "We sure are."
I threw my arms up into the air. "You just made my NIGHT!"
Amy laughed in my ear, and I suddenly realized I was in public and not in a delicious dream. Yet, I was not embarrassed. In fact, I proceeded to approach the counter and say, well first to Amy--"Can I call you back after I get my ice cream?" and then to the boy, "Can I just tell you why you made my night?" He looked just like my friend Christopher back in New York, and Christopher is one of the only people in my life who would actually care to hear a follow-up to that somewhat rhetorical question. Therefore, I felt the look-alike would have similar sentiments. "Tell me," he said.
"Ok, here's what happened," I started. "I just came from the opening of my first ever art show in a gallery down the street. And I'm driving down North Avenue, and all I want is some ice cream. I pass your store and see people inside and get excited that I will be able to fulfill my craving. But there's no parking anywhere. I don't live too far away, so I drive home to ditch the car, run upstairs to check your hours on the website. It says 10:30. It was 10:37. Well, I was so stir-crazy, that I told my friend on the phone I was just going to walk here anyway and see if by any chance you'd serve me. And sure enough, you're open!!"
"You lucked out," he said. "This is the first night we stayed open late since October."
"Really?? Wow, this night keeps getting better and better!" Order your ice cream and stop talking, my brain said. "Oh ok so I'll have sweet cream ice cream with a brownie and, do you have blackberries?" I hadn't had Coldstone in two years, but I still remembered my favored concoction.
"We have black cherries...but that's not really the same thing."
"What about raspberries?"
"Those we have."
"Awesome I'll have those too. Thanks."
While "Christopher" smashed up my order, a bunch of people came in, one boy declaring, "It smells like 10th grade in here!" I laughed because I think I was in the same grade when the first Coldstone opened near my high school.
As "Christopher" rang up my order, he asked how my art show went.
"It went wonderfully! Thank you!"
Thursday night I went to the gallery at 6:30 p.m. to hang my photographs. I anticipated this only taking about 30 minutes. At 7:50 I was still pacing back and forth, once in awhile pausing to stare at the big blank white wall. I didn't know we were all hanging our own work, so I didn't bring any of my own tools (not that I have any...), and the only ladder in the place was being occupied. Pamela, one of the other artists, saw me getting flustered and offered to help. She held my first frame "eye-level" while I attempted measuring from the floor with Tifanie's tape measurer. Once one was officially on the wall I felt a little more confident about finishing in a decent amount of time. The second picture ended up several inches lower than where I had imagined its placing in relation to the first one. I don't have the patience for perfection, so once that I happened, I decided to do things the Alyse way...whereever I hammered the next seven nails, as haphazard as they appeared, that's where the pictures were going. My way worked! I only had to slightly alter one of them. Even Collin, the owner, didn't mind how it looked, so I left relieved and ready for the next two nights.
My horoscope in Time Out Chicago read, "On Fri 9, you feel confident about your intellectual and creative abilities, but you also feel your domestic life needs improvement." I couldn't believe it! I mean not that I read my horoscope (Sagitarrius) religiously, if even more than 5x a year, but sister and I used to have a running joke about how mine were always so depressing--your best friend is stabbing you in the back, today you might get run over by a bus, the person you love is actually cheating on you....stuff like that. Even with the "but" attachment to this prediction, my horoscope finally said something not only positive, but in direct correlation with this evening's events.
After running some errands Friday morning, I stayed indoors the rest of the day, mostly to prevent any accident-prone events and to let my hair dry without submersing it in any kind of inclimate weather conditions. At 5:00 I ran out in sweats to pick up my Thai dinner down the street. Down came the rain. Bye bye protected hair. But, I wouldn't let myself dwell on that because although it was raining, it was WARM, and when I got up to the counter at Penny's, I noticed someone had put a pile of promotional postcards for our show right in front of the register! Part of me wanted to say, "I'm in that show!" to the girl working there, but I kept it to myself and walked out silently satisfied.
I shoveled down my spicy noodles with a remaining 13 minutes to fix my hair, put on some makeup, slip into my new dress, and drive to the gallery (which, luckily, is only 2-3 minutes away, depending on the one stoplight). I walked into the Blake Palmer Gallery, and the first thing I noticed: my name on the wall!! From that moment on, I don't think I stopped smiling until Sunday. Two minutes after I walked in, someone I knew came by to see the show, and after him, there was someone I knew visiting me in the gallery for the next four hours!! Friend's parents and siblings, former teachers, some artists I met at Around the Coyote a month ago, as well as a bunch of my friends...about 25 the first night. Not bad, not bad at all.
I didn't think Saturday could possibly get any better, but from start to finish, I had possibly one of the best days of my entire life. Possibly it had something to do with the fact that I straightened my hair and wore my second new outfit of the weekend, and for those who know me, this was a big deal...i don't even remember the last time i updated my wardrobe. Again, there was a HUGE turn-out! 32 people came, including Amy's 3-month-old niece, Ella. . My parents brought me flowers, which I hadn't received since my final dance recital in 2001, and the Josephs gave me an "I read banned books" bracelet, which is awesome. My namesake came (read two posts back about that story), a bunch of friends from high school who I hadn't seen in years showed up, and they even had a guy in the gallery playing the drums! I was elated, just soaking it all in.
Several people this evening approached me and asked if I was a dancer...my reply: in a past life...but secretly wished I could just say, yes. One man said, "You know how I knew? Because of your very large calves."...gee, thanks..."No, but I think defined calf muscles are very attractive on a woman." Great.
In regards to my art, I got a lot of praise, which felt wonderful, but I also got berated by a lot of people for not being a business-minded, money-hungry capitalist. "How much are you selling these for?" Oh, I don't know. "Did you sell anything yet?" I have no idea. The sellability of my work or how much money I was or wasn't making didn't even cross my mind, and I felt uncomfortable when people asked me questions regarding that. I honestly didn't care. All I cared about was that by the end of the second and final opening on Saturday night, there had been almost 60 people there who came all the way out to support me. That is what mattered.
After Amy and I hung up (after talking for 90 minutes!) that night, I thought about how ironic it was that after all the excitement, as usual, the night ended with just me and a bowl of ice cream. I couldn't get anyone to stick around, despite my energetic pleas. If any of the Unit had been there, I thought, I know they would have stayed, but, alas, we no longer live close enough to each other for them to even come. Every other artist and every other visitor those nights showed up with either a wife/husband/boyfriend/girlfriend by their side, which I found humorous. I was so high on life that that didn't even bother me, and instead I was proud that I could do something like this all on my own.
Bias aside, I honestly have never seen a strong and cohesive group show. I loved every artists' work, and that never happens. And I feel honored to be showing alongside such talented people.
"The New Breed" show at the Blake Palmer Gallery (1656 N. Bosworth) will be on display until April 27.
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