Monday, November 16, 2015

Autumn, Art, and Avant Garden

I walked in to the Village recently to do commerce, and afterward treated myself to a bowl of tomato basil soup and a grilled cheese sandwich at Avant Garden Coffee House on Main Street. But lunch wasn't the main reason why I went there. The reason I stopped was to get a feel for the place.

My Youngest had made arrangements earlier for me to visit with the manager there about possibly displaying my artwork. She did this unbeknownst to me and told me later only after she'd gotten the OK; a surprise (a pleasant one) but it still put me a bit on the spot.... I have a heckuva time tooting my own horn, so it warms my heart to know that my Girlz like my work enough to talk it up. Still, this would now mean stepping out of my comfort zone.

I'd visited Avant Garden before, but not in recent months. And I wondered if my new work would be suitable.... Are little fae faces 'edgy' enough for a jazzy coffeehouse?

The booth I chose for my lunch was in a corner where I could survey the place. Markered names and handwritten suggestions to 'Make Art' and 'Earth Without Art is Just 'Eh' decorated the bricks on the wall next to me. Overhead were displayed framed hand-drawn designs of tattoo flash. As I enjoyed my tomato basil soup and listened to some jazzy 40s music I tried to imagine my work there, little fae faces looking down on folks with mugs of hot black coffee in their hands and interesting conversations on their lips. I think I could see it....

Walking home afterward was a treat. The soup was just what my tastebuds had been jonesing for. I had the sidewalks to myself, and the sky promised rain at any moment -- my favorite weather. I passed kids on the playground. I collected bouquets of fallen ginkgo leaves, perfect for pressing. In my head I was now busy imagining myself as a regular at 'the Garden,' stopping in with my sketch gear for a bowl of soup and some drawing time, or meeting friends there for coffee and conversation.

Edgy enough for a coffeehouse??....
It began raining as I opened the back door, and soon I could hear thunder. Good weather for being indoors, organizing my portfolio.

On the day of the appointment, my Youngest planned to meet me ahead of time so that she and I could go there to pitch my work together. But I forced myself to go alone. It's been years since I made the rounds with my old beat-up portfolio, and I cringe a little now when I think on it. About the chutzpah of my 20-something self back then, proudly showing off what was at the time some pretty crappy work. (From this age and this angle I know it was awful, but my young self certainly didn't think so. She imagined shaking the art world like a pitbull with a kitten. How ballsy. Did I really think I was All That? And if so, why can't I think so now?.... Hmm.)


I recall years ago watching a young person with a portfolio get on the Metro Transit bus I was riding, and I remember how fascinated I was by her. What was her story? Was she en route to an art school? Was she about to pitch her work to an art director? What wonders were hiding in that portfolio? Was art her job? And if so, how cool is that?? At the time I was commuting to an office in the City where I was a busy receptionist, and being a full-time artist was my happy little fantasy. That hip young girl with her portfolio gave my imagination wings....

So it was a proud moment for me when I walked in to the Village, carrying my portfolio. Past schools and churches and apartment buildings and offices, past dog-walkers and leaf-rakers and exercise-takers and lunch-goers. I wondered if they noticed me. And if so, were they thinking the same thoughts, pondering the same questions? Did they wonder what awesome creations were in my case?  Did they think, "How cool would it be to be a full-time artist?" When I walked past the area's School For the Arts, I imagined kids at their desks watching me through the window and thinking, "There goes an artist. And she's happy. I can be a happy artist, too."

I was happy. Still am, too. I met with a cool guy named Brad who looked at my work and was OK with it, so we talked wall space and contracts.

And then I had a chai and it was killer.

P.S. Visit Avant Garden's website (here) to see directions, pics, and a list of beverage items. Then go there to the brick-and-mortar store, say hi to Brad (or whichever Kindred Spirit is at the counter), order a killer chai, and look at some art. Who knows? Some of it may even be mine. :)

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