The lighted sandwich board outside is tied with bobbing balloons.
posters say,“Fraktur Refreshed: New American Folk Art
by Emily Fotis.”
Forty paintings – carefully mounted, matted, framed,
grouped, hung, labeled and lighted – line the muted
moss-colored walls of Salon 108.
We’ve set up a big painting table, where visitors will
have fun (we hope!) making paint from pigment stones, and
painting the birds and flowers I’ve printed in outline
The reception room shimmers: dozens of pearl-blue and silver
balloons aloft, trailing silvery streamers from the high ceiling;
a tantalizing array of gourmet refreshments; my new Guest
Book, open and pristine. The “crew” fidgets, making
last-minute adjustments. As for me . . I’m trying hard
not to bite my nails.
Tick . . . tick . . . tick . . . (Everyone tells me there
was no ticking clock in there, but I swear I heard one.) Opening
Moment is upon us. The unasked question is, “Will anybody
What, you might ask, could compete with a gala art show premiere,
in a teeny town like Fairfield? Well, let’s see –
on this particular night there are 44 featured artists –
many with decades of experience – exhibiting art of
every kind; plus two one-night, multi-artist shows. Plus musical
and dance performances, lectures, receptions, a charity benefit
on the town square . . . and a video produced and presented
by none other than Richard Beymer (Star of West Side Story
and TV’s Twin Peaks) – all this, in 23
This is “Art Walk,” the festive Fairfield gallery-hop
held on the first Friday of every month. Fairfield has more
art galleries per capita than San Francisco. Folks crowd in
from far away – especially on perfect, balmy, late-summer
evenings like tonight. This is not my first Art Walk exhibit,
but tonight . . . I stand (or fall) alone.
Meanwhile, back at the Salon . . . we’re peering out
the windows of our second-floor gallery. The streets are filling
up with Art Walkers, but we’re empty. A few people trickle
in – mostly friends. Gulp. I look at the food tables
– enough for several hundred people – and I think,
“Well, at least we’ll have food for the next few
months.” How did I get roped into this, anyway?
It’s all Thomas Brown’s fault. He looked at my
paintings and said, “You’re doing a show at my
Salon for Art Walk!” More command than request. I wasn’t
ready. But what could I do? What I did was spend the next
five+ weeks (helped by some hastily appointed elves) cutting
mats and making wheat paste and measuring for custom frames
and cleaning glass and hammering frame-hangers. We made prints
to sell (also matted), and posters and ribbon-tied packages
of my stationery. We made flyers and posters and sent art
clips to the newspapers. We shopped and baked and ordered
custom filled croissants from the marvelous pastry chef at
Café Paradiso. We made the painting table and the food
tables and that lighted sandwich board. We measured walls
and rigged the lights and hung the paintings and . . . and
And here we sit. Thomas is looking debonair and completely
relaxed. Not a worry in the world. For a long moment, I consider
strangling him. But then . . . suddenly . . . a whirl, a blur,
a CROWD is in our gallery! It’s packed! And more visitors
are streaming in every minute. They tell us that the word
is out, on the street, that our exhibit is The Best! Incredible!
Thomas, I love you!
Five hours later, our (advertised) 3-hour show is over. They
came, they saw, they painted! (And they ate. Not a crumb left
– darn! I wanted a croissant!) I have just met several
hundred of the dearest people on earth. They have filled my
ears with kind words, my heart with warmth, and my Guest Book
with signatures, love and encouragement.
It’s midnight. My guests have carried off my wares and
ordered more. My exhibit is scheduled to remain for a month.
[It ended up staying two months] When will I ever find time
to paint? I am too giddy to think, too exhausted to clean
up. Ah, well, tomorrow, then. Tomorrow is another day. But
there will never, ever be another night like tonight!