Life etc., The Business

The Fair

My mister & I have been enjoying feeling like kids again as we ran around the PNE, Vancouver’s version of a county fair. Mini Donuts, ridiculously expensive lemonade, the Super Dogs – so much fun & so much nostalgia, even though we didn’t grow up here. I think every city has some version of the fair & all of our favorites were there.

Aside from digesting 9000 calories, as an adult I have to say wandering around & enjoying the shows was more my speed than riding rides. I watched a horseshoe demonstration where I stood with my jaw dropped as a lady pounded nails into a horse’s hoof. Even though both my parents grew up on farms, I’d never seen this done before & was SURE the horse was going to kick the hammer lady at any moment!

There must be farming in my blood, however, because now that Vancouver has passed the urban chicken by-law, I’m pretty stoked to get a little coop for our backyard. You can keep up to 4 chickens & apparently they lay roughly 6 eggs per week. How cool would that be?

I loved the Indian Runner ducks too. These guys need their own painting, I’m pretty sure.

Since I hadn’t been on a roller coaster in at least 3 years, we decided to splurge on the ride passes. What I didn’t take into account was:

a) I’m old.

b) It was already 5:30pm by the time we started riding rides.

c) The lines were really really long.

A $40 ride pass only amounted to 8 rides for us because the lines were long & (see point A), we’re old. After 3 or 4, we were ready for a break. And honestly, if we hadn’t spent the money on the passes, probably would’ve been quite content to quit right there. The historic wooden roller coaster? Kicked my ass. Not only did it scare the crap out of me, it felt really dangerous to fly out of my seat & left me with a huge bruise across my thigh. I do not understand the appeal.

My favorite ride was a new one – Crazy Beach Party. Looking at the cheesy artwork as we queued was entertaining, the ride was smooth & gave your stomach a little flip, but never in that “I AM GOING TO DIE!!!!” sort of way. Loved it.

Speaking of art, I was delighted to see Emily Carr University had put together an exhibition of container art. Each artist was given a truck container to do with as they saw fit & though some were definitely more successful than others, it was amazing to see art included at all. Tens of thousands of people who would probably never set foot in an art gallery were exposed to contemporary art being created by local artists. Awesome.

I don’t want to be too critical here, but I will say this – when you have a container & free range to make an art installation that thousands of people are going to walk through, the most successful exhibits are ones that are specifically designed for that space. There were a few that seemed to take their existing work & slap it up on the walls, creating a very small, cramped, badly lit gallery. Not very interesting, not the best way to display your art & totally uninspired.

The best thing I saw? Kids’ reactions to the art. I expected them to run into each one, check it out & run on to the next one, kid-style. That was definitely happening, but I was amazed at  how many little dudes really stopped in their tracks & LOOKED. Pondered. Tried to figure out what was going on or what the point was. I saw lots of kids being dragged away by bored moms & that made me really happy. (Well, not happy that the moms were bored, but taking kids to the fair looks like a fucking nightmare, so I can’t blame them for wanting to leave their brains in Managerial Safety Mode.)

What made me less happy? Seeing the display of essentially free art prints being given away with a donation of $1 or $2 to some charity. Thank you for devaluing my entire profession, assholes!

Was the art terrible? Of course. Was it still insulting to see my life’s work be given away as a free gift when donating less than bus fare? Absofuckinglutely.

(Note: Yes, I’m swearing a lot this blog post. I’m still *that* annoyed.)

Part of why this annoys me is the way artists are constantly called on to donate work to fundraiser auctions & the like. Once you donate something, be it an original or a print, the barrage of requests begins to snowball. I’ve spoken to several other artists who have had the same experience & none of us are considered “well known”. I’m sure lots of other industries get similar requests & yes, I’m happy to support the charities that I believe in, but at some point it’s just not feasible. Also, please do not patronize me with the adage, “But it’ll be great exposure for your work!” Great! Tell my landlord I’ll be paying rent this month with “exposure”. I’m sure that’s totally cool.

By a long shot, the most ridiculous fundraiser for which I’ve been asked to donate something was this: a lowly gaming company was in desperate need of funds to re-do their patio, where I presume the employees hang out. Quick! In the time it takes you to read this sentence, a struggling computer programmer may have to sit outside & smoke on a patio with cracks in it! CRACKS!!! Please donate now.

Um. No.

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