|by Shawn Noel|
|So, What Do We Know?
Ten hour days sitting shiva for art [in the Pop Rocks Gallery in the CAMP Rehoboth courtyard] is not for the faint hearted, as they say. If you are totally into reading and crossing words, then maybe, just maybe, you can do this kind of work. Or if you love people and the stories they might tell, well, then, you might, like, totally get into the art gallery showing, selling thang. I am the latter. My job is to sell, sell, sell. I do that part of it, chatting it up with whoever walks in the door. Adult or kid. I think that knowing about the art is as important as the cost of the art, but what do I know, just an old retired physical education teacher.
And the CAMP Rehoboth courtyard on Baltimore Ave.... You hear stories like "who met there," or "meet me for lunch in the courtyard," or "I'll be at the Lambda Rising Bookstore" in the courtyard. Which brings me to the "where the hell is the bookstore?" look. It goes something like this: I look out the window and see some 30-60ish couple/single walk in the direction of the door to the gallery and the feet slow, the eyes search the storefront, and then the feet shuffle, and they begin to have the old timers (my 6-year-old nephew's discriminated hearing for Alzheimers) look in their eyes. They say to themselves, "I know I left that bookstore here last summer." Some of the brave come in, asking where it might be. Some of the intensely focused come right in the door and THEN realize the bookstore is not where they left it. OOPS. Did I say what they were focused on?
So what do they know? Now they are held hostage by the crazed art gallery woman. "If you look at the art I will tell you where the bookstore is." So far no one has turned me down, must be my sell, sell, sell personality, huh?
Anyway, back to the courtyard. In case all you GLBTs out there don't know about the wonderful folks at CAMP, I think each of them has the dedicated PTA parents of the world gene. You know the people I'm talking about. The ones who always baked, ran meetings, headed committees, showed up even when they really wanted to stay home or work out. Yep, your favorite CAMP Rehoboth writers, publishers, editors, putting togetherers, keep the gas lights burning all night group, responsible for Letters. And then the mag/news gets delivered by some of the same folks.
And this is just a small part of the work they do for all of us in the grand gay community. Thank you CAMP Rehoboth. The courtyard has been an eye opening experience.
Of course, gallery sitting sometimes has been an eye closing journey. When my lids flutter shut and my head bangs back, I jet over to Lori's and get a double shot in hopes of staying awake for the next 5 hours. Most times it works, but what mostly works is listening to people's stories. They all have them, and each one is as unique as each of us are. And ART is what brings us to these conversations. So who knew? I hear the joy in a woman's voice as she relates to the De La Nuez piece titled Just Add Milk, a 16 frame canvas and acrylic representation of all the cereal boxes she grew up with. Her relationship with that art was "My brother ate Quake and I ate Quisp", and she smiled about it, as if she was sitting at the kitchen table with her brother. And then there are the voice overs, kids and grown ups, when they see Speed Racer by John Stango. They all think I can't hear them, but I am delighted that I can, because I see the child in each of them as they mimic the character completely uninhibited.
And the conversations develop, connecting icons of past and present pop culture. So many people relate to the Stango piece Audrey and what she did with her fame and fortune, as opposed to so and so in People.
ART and conversatition.... "Is that Jane Fonda from Barbarella? Did you hear she is back with Ted to protest the Iraq war?" I wonder if Jeff Schaller knows his work is evoking a discussion of war, peace, and politics? And if he does, I hope he never stops painting.
Then Terry Isner came to do a show filled with text and pictures and statements hidden and right in your face. And were you smart enough to get it. ART offers opportunities for the human kind to discuss, relate, and speak about what they think and feel. Even kids have an opinion and many parents are utterly surprised to know what their kid thinks about pop art, or how much they know about what the art says or doesn't say.
And the stories...especially at the Andy Warhol show. How many in our community met him, worked for him, saw him at a book signing or just dug him and his eclectic sense of what ART should, could be to the American people in a time when ART was only for the wealthy. Or that he was a devout Catholic and spent a good part of his later years trying to help people who were the have-nots of our society. And the humor in seeing his work. One photo titled Richard Liu and Pretty Blond Boy brought many offers of "Hey that pretty blond boy is me" with much laughter following, usually from their partner very near my age.... Trix and Sugar Crisp. But What Do I Know?
Thanks to Kelly, Kim, Cassie and Jackie for the opportunity to view this part of my journey through ART at Pop Rocks Art Gallery, 39 Baltimore Ave, Rehoboth Beach, Delaware.
LETTERS From CAMP Rehoboth, Vol. 15, No. 15 November 23, 2005