If this is your first visit, welcome to Musings. If you have been here before, welcome back. Over time we are going to talk about many things: the past, the present, perhaps the future, travel, art, society and more. Wherever my musing takes me. I hope you will come along with me.
Today the topic is “The Body of Art” or
”Kissimmee, if you dare”.
Shortly after Jeanette and I got together, 2004, I was wrestling with the never-to-be-solved issue of how does an artist get his work shown? I had done three trade shows, one in Atlanta and two in New York city but with not much to show for it. My gallery was sort of anemic and the best results I was having were with a frame shop. So what to do!?
I decided I would go on the art festival circuit. That would be the ticket!
Now to do that, of course, one needs one of those booth-like tents you see at these festivals. And I knew if I got one of those tents it would have to be substantial. The first week I was in Florida years ago I attended Artigras, an outdoor show with nearly 400 artists exhibiting. On the second day we had severe thunderstorms and winds and nearly 300 of the artist’s tents collapsed. Total mayhem. “That is not for me”, I thought. “If I do this, it will be top drawer!” So after much investigation, I found a suitable structure and ordered it to the tune of $2400. No “easy up” for me! No indeed! Mine is a brawny tent!
Well, it arrived the same week that Hurricane Francis did. Very frustrating, because I was so eager to put it up in a trial run, but you can’t in winds exceeding 100 miles per hour, even if it is a brawny tent! We sat around for about four days, waiting. Finally I took the tent and Jeanette, my fearless helper, to a parking lot and began to try to put
it up with the nearly unintelligible instructions. But, even then we had to give up because the winds were still gusting from time to time at 30 miles per hour. Such frustration!
Eventually the weather calmed down and we did put the booth together. Hung some art in it and took photos of “the art exhibit”. This was necessary because all these shows want to see examples of the artist’s work and A PICTURE OF THE BOOTH. That is a bit of a pain in the butt when you have never exhibited before. But, we did manage to create the image of a viable art booth.
Now I got to looking for art festivals in which to exhibit. But damn, there was a waiting list and a time line to deal with. Any established festival within the next 10 months was already booked and sold out.
“What the hey!? I’m not going to get to show my stuff for almost a year? I’m gett’n ticked off to be sure!”
Just about this time, in a trade magazine, I came across an advertisement: New Show, “Body of Art” seeking nudes, sponsored by the Kissimmee Health Camp.
“Wow”, I thought, “that may be just the ticket. It’s a new show, so there won’t be returning entrants and the chance to get accepted is better. And, they want nudes. I have lots of nudes. Let’s give it a go.”
And that is what I did. Mailed in my application and a couple of images. And, hot damn, about three weeks later I received a notice that I was one of thirty-five exhibitors accepted at the Kissimmee Health Camp for its inaugural “Body of Art” out-door art festival.
I was excited. Kissimmee is only about three hours from West Palm Beach, where I live, and they said we could even bring our dogs. They had rooms available on site for a reasonable price and, to encourage the artists, the setup was available the whole day of Friday, the event starting on Saturday. Set-up is always an issue. All the artists are trying to get their exhibits trucked into location, assembled and secured in a couple of hours. Show set up often starts at 5 AM for a show opening at 9 AM. And everyone is doing it at the same time. Just a zoo.! So, to have the whole day before to set-up was wonderful. All of this was terrific. My first show! Jeanette’s first show! Great!
There was only one thing . . . the Kissimmee Health Camp, we discovered, has a more formal name: Cypress Cove Nudist Resort and Spa.
Exhibitors were not required to be nude.
Cypress Cove Nudist Resort and Spa
The camp management said they decided to put on the show because the local art shows banned nudes. The camp wanted to purchase nudes to decorate the common facilities. So, they decided to put on their own show. Worked for me. Over the years I had done many nudes and after they were exhibited, if they were not sold, they went into the cavern of storage, rarely to be seen again. This seemed to offer a great way to try out our new Art Booth and to move some of the nudes.,
We motored into the Camp on Friday. Got our room. Went to the set-up area and began to put our exhibit together. Next to us was a photographer, a police officer; very good looking fellow. So we talked and joked as we put up the tent and exhibit. Camp residents, men and women, came sauntering through, in the nude, checking what we were doing. Most of them were winter residents from Canada and most were well over 70. Gone rather quickly were my prurient interests. Still, it was all very civil.
We went to dinner at the camp restaurant. There were mixed couples all around. By that I mean, a lady in a dress having dinner with a guy in the buff. Or, vice versa. Not the usual restaurant scene. After dinner we retired, eager to get on to the next day, our
first outdoor art exhibit!
The following morning came in on a wave of damp cold. Our exhibits were shrouded in fog. I had to squeegee down the side flaps on the exhibit. Wow! I had not anticipated that.
The cold inhibited the crowd. They did not begin to materialize until the fog had burned off . . .mid day. Still it was cold.
Our policeman friend was there, bright and chipper and nude. (Don’t think I would like to meet him on his beat.)
Now the men, well they are more adventuresome than the women. They adorn their little fellow with studs and piercings and bobbles that wobble. I spent the morning describing this to Jeanette since she would only look off into space as our potential customers strolled by.
I also discovered that a nudist camp is not a good art venue.
First of all, the non-nudist buying public is unlikely to come to the show. Just imagine you are out with your Mom and looking for something to do on the weekend. Are you going to say, “Hey, let’s go over to the nudist camp. I hear they have a new art show open to the public? “
Next I discovered that nudists only want really representational nudes, like photographs. They celebrate the body. My works which suggested Matisse or Modigliani didn’t cut it.
And then I realized that they rarely had a place to hang any work. Almost all were seasonal Canadians down in their big motor homes for the winter. No excess walls there.
So this was our first venture into the world of street vendors. I sold nothing! I no longer do these shows.
A meaningful insight into the human condition
But, I did achieve a meaningful insight into the human condition. You and I have as people have gone through life and always had in the back of our mind or the forefront a curiosity about the opposite sex. Not just us, but people worldwide. How many books have been written about it!?! Well, I must tell you Kissimmee gave me clarity on the issue. Here is the truth: when it gets cold at a nudist camp, women put on clothes; guys put on a bomber jacket!
More to come
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