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Journey to an art market

It has been a while since I have shown hand block printed offerings at a juried art market, though time was I did this kind of thing fairly regularly.

The run up to Southwest Print Fiesta had me scrambling with last minute details. While designing a ten foot by ten foot outdoor booth with long drapes of printed cloth hanging from the framework of one of those pop-up market canopies, I realized that I needed to make an identifying banner. In a post 9/11 USA, I cannot use the original banner under which I worked. The name of the Ancient Egyptian feminine deity has become a symbol of terror and evil in the USA, not creativity and regeneration. It provokes unwelcome attention. It saddens me, in the same way as does the fact that the swastika has been conscripted away from its original significance.

Despite the name change, creativity and regeneration still insist on being integral to the thing to do with a life. Two days before the show, I found myself using scraps of cloth printed around three decades ago to make the new banner. "We shall live again...". Oh yes, Patti Smith on sound track. And as an aside: so this is why I've carried boxes of cloth around the world.

A veteran of many markets on several continents and an island archipelago, the money pouch, made from storytelling scraps in the late eighties Knysna Ou Fabriek and Grahamstown Festival days, and which I have been using all this season at farmers market, is almost 40 years.

Then, late last week, the 2022 monsoon season failed to get the memo that it ends in September. The grandmother of all wet, rainy, stormy systems visited the region.


As I was packing, I received wet weather contingency plans from the fiesta organizers : move indoors and reduce booth size from 10x10ft to 6x6ft, no market canopies.

I looked around the shed and found a couple of dusty, unsteady, splintery old wooden ladders which could serve as structure to drape cloth though I was seriously going to struggle with reducing booth size. My two main tables are 6ft and wouldn't fit together in a 6x6ft space. I tossed in a couple of 5 ft tables as well as a few extra folding chairs. Red Pony is such an accommodating vehicle, if one knows how to pack.


Making display props adjustments had me running late. The roadtrip over Emory Pass was wet, foggy and slow resulting in an arrival in Silver City about three hours later than originally anticipated. The downtown and my BnB accommodation were flooded and uninhabitable. It was pouring with rain and getting dark. Luckily I found a hotel with space, though it wasn't the easiest or cheapest thing to do. I felt like Mary and Joseph: no room at the inn, no room at the inn - talking about mythologies and this journey the cloth takes me on. I came pretty close to driving back over the mountain and calling the whole thing off.

I didn't quit, though and managed to put together a compromised version of a display in the space allocated me: the dimly lit, far back corner of a huge empty building.


In the end though, Southwest Print Fiesta was really kind to me. The cloth worked it's ancient mesmerizing magic, albeit under a new banner. The nut was made.

A queen of a moon danced a seven veiled home coming.


Back in Coyote Town, I can now pay some attention to the very neglected garden, made wild and lush and lovely by recent heavy rains. When it stops raining. Does anyone perhaps have Noah's number?Just in case a boatbuilder is needed.

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