A whirlwind of activity getting prepared for the Friday and Saturday night openings of, Marking Our Place in the World. This is the first time I will have been able to show so much of the project in one space, and I have been running around all week getting the last minute details in place. This was also the first time I’ve had to speak about the work in public, and I was extremely nervous about the prospect. I think high school speech class was the last time I had to do any public speaking, so I’ve had about 40 years to let my public speaking fears grow. I tried to mitigate this by creating an outline of what I wanted to say. I practiced it repeatedly over several days, but was not feeling confident at all. Thursday night, I got maybe 4 hours sleep. This was not going to be pretty and I kept trying to figure out ways to get out of it. But I knew that wouldn’t do – I had to face it. It helped immensely that my friend and co-exhibitor, Stephen Johnson, would be speaking first, then introduce me. Steve has done this forever and I knew it would serve as a good way to start.
Friday we headed out early for Sacramento. I wanted to stop by the gallery first to be sure all was well with the show, before checking into the hotel. About halfway up, I noticed the tire pressure warning light was on. This warning light has cried wolf so many times before that at first I really thought nothing of it. But I soon decided it would be best if I checked it out a bit more. I needed gas anyway, so I pulled into a station in Fairfield to check it out. Sure enough, the passenger rear tire was decidedly low. At first I didn’t see any obvious cause, but looking to the inner edge of the tire tread, I saw the culprit. It was a large spike that somehow managed to puncture the tread in a spot where it was not possible to repair. Fortunately I have a full size spare and it was properly inflated. I started to pull out the jack and such, but then I thought, ” What the hell do I have emergency road service for?” I called AAA and they sent a guy out within 45 minutes. If I was in the middle of nowhere I would have done it myself, but this was the right call today. I would have been a sweaty mess and a larger bundle of nerves.
We were back on the road and in Sacramento, but too late to hit the gallery first. We got ourselves checked in, met our friends and just relaxed for an hour or so before heading over to Viewpoint. Most of that time I was still trying to figure out how I could gracefully bow out of speaking. We got to the gallery at 5 PM. There was time for some chit chat with a few people there before I needed to do a brief video interview about the work with Patty Felkner, the curator of the show. This went well and I began to feel like maybe speaking wouldn’t be so bad. I managed to remember various things I wanted to say about the work and Patty was good at asking the right questions. It was also so nice to have my parents in attendance, as well as a sister and other friends.
People started coming in more regularly over the next hour. It wouldn’t get too crowded since this was the Members, Friends and Guests opening. Tomorrow’s 2nd Saturday opening would be much busier. I got to mingle a bit and talk about the work individually with various people and I soon began to really calm down. By 7 PM, most people had arrived and it was time to do the introductions and speaking. I was really feeling pretty good now. I still wasn’t at all sure I would remember anything I wanted to say, but felt I’d get through it just fine. Patty first introduced Stephen and he spoke so eloquently about his work, as he always does, then talked a little about how we met – all warm and glowing things. Then it was my turn. I was really quite calm and was pleasantly surprised at how easily the thoughts I’d outlined earlier came to me. I did notice a warble in my voice as I talked and wondered if others could pick that up. I spoke for about 10 – 15 minutes and received a nice round of applause. They tell me I actually sounded cogent. So, not so bad. The rest of the evening was just plain fun – walking around, talking about the project, having a little wine and sushi, meeting new people. It was everything I could hope for in a first show. Afterwards, Stephen and I, along with Fiona and Mary and Mary and Rick, went out for dinner and a rehash of the opening.
Saturday morning we met up with Mary and Rick again for breakfast, then Mary and I visited the Crocker Art Museum. Afterwards, we just went back to the hotel and relaxed. It was very windy and quit warm so we didn’t spend much time outside. In the evening we met with more friends for dinner at a very nice Italian restaurant before going back for the Second Saturday event at the gallery. Second Saturday is where the entire art district stays open late and invites all to visit the various galleries. Viewpoint is the only all photography gallery in Sacramento, so they do tend to get heavy visitation. We arrived about 7 PM and were told it had been quite busy since about 5. It continued that way most of the evening. It would get a little slow, then another crowd would show up. I was kept busy talking with visitors and showing people around. I kind of ran out of steam by 9 PM, so we made our exit and went looking for some late night noshing. We found it at a nice dessert place and hung out at some tables outside the cafe for awhile before heading back to the hotel.
All in all, it was a very satisfying experience. It was good to get this show under my belt. I have a much better idea of the whole process, feel much more confident in myself and am really pleased with the way the photos look on the wall. Some sales would be very nice for both me and the gallery. Viewpoint is wholly operated by volunteers. No one gets paid. This is pretty unique among galleries and I have to hand it to those who work there. The hanging crew were energetic and friendly, the docents were helpful during the openings and all the members were supportive. The show will run through July 7, so come by if you are in the area.