Friday, May 9, 2008

Mary Kate's Hat

In the John Ford film, The Quiet Man, there is a horse race in which the local belles place their bonnets on posts on the race course. The racers, as they sweep by, grab the hat of the young woman for whom they are racing.

Mary Kate Danaher, the female lead, is persuaded, against her better judgment, to put her hat up for grabs. After the riders pass, only one hat remains gently rocking in the breeze: Mary Kate’s. Her eyes grow large with shock and shame as she realizes she must walk across the field under the gaze of the whole town and fetch her scorned hat.

This is why I call retrieving my unsold art work from a concluded show “Fetching Mary Kate’s Hat.”

It is a measure of my success as an artist that I have a specific term for this activity.

It is a long walk across that gym or church hall floor under the gaze of the other artists to retrieve your unsold work.

At a recent church sponsored art show, neither of my entries sold. As I mentioned in my first posting, now located somewhere at the bottom of this pile of verbiage, I do wood carvings of a primitive or “folk.” nature. Clearly, they are not understood by the art consuming public as I have yet to sell one.

Not that I am about to cut off a body part or anything, but at times I do get a little frustrated.

My entries were a large mirror decorated with carved birds that I called “Rise and Shine” and a carving of a witch with ruby slippers that I titled “Alternate Ending.”

The first sign that this might not be my audience occurred when I was submitting by entries and an old gent took a look at “Alternate Ending” and said: “Oh look, it’s Harry Potter.”

At the show’s end as I was checking out with my Kate's hats, two elderly church ladies chimed in unison: “It’s the birdie mirror! We love the birdie mirror!” “Well apparently you are the only ones who do,” I heard myself say. Now,as soon as the words were out of my mouth, I knew this was a whiney remark. Artists, I believe are entitled, indeed expected, to be cranky and petulant. However, there is no whining in art.

The ladies didn’t miss a beat. “Oh dear, thank you for trying so hard,” the one said. “Would you care for a cookie?” the other asked.

As I was leaving, I ran into the old gent. “Heh, heh,” he said “Harry Potter didn’t sell.”

I didn’t say anything. I felt better. I had had a cookie.

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