...have taken me no more than about a mile from my apartment so far this weekend but that was enough. While there is usually little to do in or near downtown Phoenix over the weekends this one was different. Yesterday was the day that made the difference being that it was First Friday. First Friday is simply a street fair of sorts held the first Friday of every month on Roosevelt Street in Phoenix. I suppose you could call Roosevelt Street the heart of Phoenix, at least on First Fridays - at other times it takes on the standard look of Phoenix on most days - post apocalyptic virtually empty streets. Best not to dwell on it when there is nothing going on so allow me to return to m thoughts about it when there is some hoopla and festivity.
I have walked up and down Roosevelt Street from Central to 7th several times during the three First Fridays through which I have been here so far. The first two of them, one in January then one in February, were fairly well attended. Several hundred, if not a thousand people were doing likewise each time. Last night though was different, there had to have been thousands of people there for sure. It was mobbed. I don't know what made last night's FF different than the others, it was not warmer or cooler out, the weather was pleasant as it had been for the others. It is not a holiday weekend or anything like that. There was nothing unusual in the offering among the many street vendors and the street performers were pretty much the regular thing you would expect to see at a street fair. Yet, it was mobbed.
I did not go directly there from my apartment, I skirted around it up to 3rd Street and went to a credit union ATM machine to get some cash. I had a purchase in mind and wanted to make sure I had the cash to pay for it. After I got my cash I headed back toward Roosevelt in between 1st Street and Central to look for Aleta Welling's booth. She is a local artist, a painter, who paints mainly surreal fantasy works. At the fair she sell prints made from her works. I like surrealism but have never even considered buying any for my home until I saw hers. Then again, I wasn't really considering a piece of surreal art last night either. Instead, my aim this time was on something more along the lines of a piece of Operatic art. The print I was interested in buy was a copy of one of Aleta's oil paintings (the original was already sold) called The Lady of the Woods. Her painting is in essence a copy of something she had seen once upon a time and that immediately struck her as worth the time, effort, paint to put on canvass. The something she had seen was an Opera Poster from the early 1900s.
Well, when I got to where Aleta's booth should have been - it was not. I walked all the way up to Central and did not see her. I did an about-face and started looking on both sides of the street figuring maybe she had to move her location because there were some new vendors in evidence. Then suddenly, almost as if by some magic out of a surreal scene, the crowds parted and there she was right where she was supposed to have been. You see, I missed her the first time because the crowd was so large. There were so many people in and around her small both when I went by it the first time that I simply did not, could not, see it.
As I walked into her booth, I caught her eye and said something like: I see you brought along the large one tonight. She was a bit flummoxed until she saw me looking at The Lady of the Woods print she had hanging on the left just as you would enter her booth. A smile lit up her face and she asked/said: "So you're the one.... I had stopped by her booth a couple of times on each of the previous FF's I had attended and then had written her a couple of emails inquiring about the availability of the original (yes I was pretty taken by this painting and beleive me my camera flash did not do it justice) and about availability of different sizes of the prints once I found out the original was already sold. I think most of her other works are great too, but I sure did like this one the most. It seems others feel the same way she told me this is one of her best selling prints. I just like it because it reminds me of several things in life that I enjoy: hunting, Greek mythology goddess of the hunt type things, The Hobbit (even though woman played only a small role in the book), mother nature, the forests and their serenity, wood nymphs and the like. There is also something else the print will always remind me of when I look at it and that would be the artist, you see even though she claims it is not - it could be a self portrait. The resemblance between the subject of the painting and the artist is remarkable. Aleta thought this a great compliment because she considers the woman in the painting very beautiful although I figure that this was equally complimentary to the woman in the painting because Aleta is stunning herself. Anyway the resemblance is there.
I wound up buying a 16x20 print that is on stretched canvass and ready for framing. I had debated buying the 8x10 size but the larger one just is so much more outstanding. here of course was a slight dilemma in making m selection. On one hand I could get the one that looked better because of its size and on the other I could get the one that would be much easier for me to take home when i leave Phoenix at the end of my assignment here. I am pretty sure I will be allowed to carry the print on the plane with me as carry-on but I am somewhat concerned of it getting torn or otherwise ruined during my travels. I guess time will tell if it will eventually hang in my home in one piece.
To tell you the truth, I cannot remember the last piece of art I bought as far as paintings go. The most artsy things I can think of having bought in recent years were Hummels for my wife and a very pretty vase or two. There was just something about this one though that said take me home. So I bought it. That may be indicative of another side of me, one that I have not dealt with all that often, but that I would not mind seeing more of out and about. Now I have to overcome the trip home with it, then and more importantly I have to hope my wife likes it. Chances are she won't and will be wondering what on earth had me buying a print showing a woman, for some unknown reason holding antlers on her head. So to the basement it probably will be relegated but that is okay - I already have a place for it in mind and the basement is kind of my private retreat anyway. Of course, I may be surprised and Linda may love it, it which case it may wind up in the living room or dining room. My guess is that searching for and selecting just the right frame for it could be something both of us might enjoy. I hope so.
If you would like to see some samples of her works click here.
All the best,
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