Back from the OPA show in Nashville, all in one (somewhat numb) piece and grateful to God that everything went so smoothly. Neanderthal that I am, I still rely on directions from MapQuest printed on dead trees rather than a GPS. I do hope to get a GPS device someday soon, hopefully one that can talk to me in the voice of the HAL 9000 from 2001: A Space Odyssey... you know, when traffic is bad and my HAL/GPS unit detects stress patterns in my voice it will say things like, "I really think you should pull over, take a stress pill and think about this."
The maps did the trick, though. I managed to end up standing in more or less the right places at more or less the right times. The affair was less stuffy than I had imagined, more informal and I met and chatted with a number of perfectly nice folks. The quality of the paintings was excellent, so it was a little annoying that the dense crowd made it difficult to really look at them in the thoughtful, unhurried way they deserved. As is usual, I could see nothing but the flaws in my own piece. It's difficult to honestly see one's own work. Familiarity breeds, well, all sorts of things.
I won no awards this time around, but I'm very encouraged that I can do better next time. It was, as they say, "an honor just to be nominated...". At the after dinner, I sat with one of the award winners and her husband. When I found out he was a NASA engineer it almost derailed the conversation permanently, as I gushed that my son and I shared an interest in the space program and that he had his picture made with Buzz Aldrin and The Right Stuff was, like, our favorite movie ever, and blah, blah... I didn't mention the blurb I read on some blog recently (by someone who would probably know) that said NASA was like a sheltered workshop for high functioning autistics.
I came back down to earth and we talked about kids and the election (by this time we had each sent enough coded "I might be a conservative" messages that we felt it safe to venture a bit into politics. In a gathering of artists of that size, you're going to have a lot of Obamaphiles and no one wants a scene over their grilled swordfish).
The drive was pretty easy, though there is not much that can dress up the plain fact of sitting in one position for nine hours. Actually, I take that back. I drifted into the range of an alternative radio station out of Little Rock (KABF) that I thoroughly enjoyed because they happened to be in the middle of a long jazz set. It was so cool to tune in and find music for grown ups!
I was quite taken by the sounds of Gypsy Swing (which is so much fun to listen to that I actually laughed out loud once or twice) and am itching to download a lot more of that genre. Listen, I'm at the point where I just don't have time for music (or anything else) that doesn't have some genuine joy to it, and gypsy swing fairly oozes joy out the seams.
I was also saddend to hear them announce the death of legendary soul singer Levi Stubbs, of The Four Tops. His voice and their music is simply iconic.
I had the singular pleasure of driving into the hills of western Tennessee on a perfect autumn day. The road was smooth as buttermilk and the sun filtered through the leaves and dappled the rolling blacktop. They let the trees grow closer to the freeway there, I think, which I heartily endorse. I didn't run the air conditioner the whole trip, as the air coming through the vents was dry and cool.
I promised myself I wouldn't do any more political posts before the election, so I'll just steer you to this dose of sanity from The Anchoress. She calls for fasting and prayer and I'm, you know, down wi' dat.