2006.07.26 It's no secret: she loves art fairs

Written by David Green.

By COLLEEN LEDDY

There’s nothing like an art fair to make me wish I were rich. And the Ann Arbor Art Fairs extravaganza bumps my wishing efforts up to the millionaire and billionaire levels. I’d love to be able to buy everything that appeals to me as I meander past the booths of some of the finest art made by some of the most creative people from all around the country.

Besides the great-looking art I’d love to own, there’s the art I know I’d buy out of guilt and pity—the art made by artists who are sitting right there watching, hoping, as I peruse their work. It’s hard to walk away; I feel compelled to buy something, just so I don’t let the artists down. But I am not a millionaire, nor a billionaire, and poverty puts a lid on that impulse quite pronto.

Of course, the art fairs offer so much more than just art for sale. Last Friday as I walked the many blocks of the fair I was energized by the variety of all that was going on. Music, and dance such as the graceful Srishti Dances of India, four Imagination Stations featuring quick art projects for kids of all ages, free food samples, super sidewalk sales, and Chelsea’s Door Project where you could enter the Door of Secrets and, once inside a little tented area, write secrets on the back of the door and on the canvas walls of the tent.

Here are some of my favorites: I like to dance with my bulldog. I eat and love chicken hearts. I like to sing opera in the shower...really loud. I sleep with a blankie. I lie sometimes. I can’t keep secrets. I love eating chocolate when I’m sad. I think I’m headed in the wrong direction. I like question marks.

And it’s not just the cool and kooky and participatory art that’s so enticing. There’s also the journey through the gauntlet of non-profit booths on Liberty where the usual fare such as the Sierra Club co-exists with the nudist booth (Celebrating Nature through Nude Recreation) and the Holy Mary Mother of God booth.

I came home from the fair sorry that David had missed out on all of it. I don’t know how long it’s been since he’s attended an art fair. I know I’ve been there with him, but it could have been 20 or more years ago.

“You really should go sometime,” I tell him.

“I’ve been to the art fair,” he says.

“Yeah, but there’s so much great stuff, such beautiful art, and it changes all the time,” I say. “It makes me want to be a millionaire so I can buy anything I want.”

“Why do you do that to yourself?” says the man of simple means.

“Well, I know I can’t buy all that I want, so then I just treat it like a giant museum with block after block of beautiful art,” I say.

For, even as I yearn for the art, it’s not a burning desire. I don’t feel deprived. I’ve made purchases in past years that continue to delight me. I don’t need to keep piling on the stuff. Even as I thought about what I would buy if I had unlimited resources, that quote about “wanting what you have” circled through my head.

I went looking for the exact wording on the internet and came up with a bunch more quotes that make going to the art fairs on a tight budget easier to bear.

First there were the variations, some attributed to Proverbs:

It is better to want what you have than to have what you want.

The key to happiness is not to have what you want but to want what you have.

The best way to have what you want, is to want what you have.

There are two ways to be rich in life: have what you want or want what you have.

Then, on www.gardendigest.com (click on the simplicity link),  I found these:

I'm living so far beyond my income that we may almost be said to be living apart.

– e.e. cummings

You have succeeded in life when all you really want is only what you really need. 

– Vernon Howard

For fast acting relief; try slowing down.

– Lily Tomlin

If you have a garden and a library, you have everything you need.

– Cicero

He who buys what he does not need steals from himself.

– Author Unknown

That man is the richest whose pleasures are the cheapest.

– Henry David Thoreau

My riches consist not in the extent of my possessions but in the fewness of my wants.

– J. Botherton

And I don’t know who the heck Steven Wright is, but his is now my very favorite line, one that pretty much sums up the practical attitude when it comes to buying art:

You can't have everything; where would you put it?

  - July 26, 2006

 

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