Don't think about making art, just get it done. Let everyone else decide
if it's good or bad, whether they love it or hate it. While they are deciding,
make even more art. --andy warhol

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Notes from a Stewed Tomato

So it has taken me a couple of days to recuperate from my weekend, but here I am.  And what I'm here to tell you is that I did check out the Tomato Art Fest ( and it didn't disappoint.  Of course, this festival happens in East Nashville (or as the locals call it, "East Nasty") so my first challenge was just to find it!  Not being an East Nashvillian and definitely being someone who can easily get lost in her own neighborhood meant that it was almost a given that I would have problems and I did.  But I'm a smart cookie (despite the way it might look given that I failed to map out a route to my planned destination BEFORE hitting the road) and I eventually stopped my aimless wandering, checked my phone for directions, figured out the location of the festival and headed that direction.  (Of course, you would think that a festival wouldn't be the easiest thing to hide, but, by the time I found it, I was beginning to think that was exactly what had happened.  I was becoming convinced that it had been hidden and only the locals knew where to find it!  Fortunately for me, that was not true at all.)

Anyway, once the car was parked (another challenge made more challenging by the fact that I was unfamiliar with the area) and I was  heading toward the festival itself my frustrations became a distant memory pretty quickly.   The proof that the tomato is "a uniter - not a divider" could not have been more obvious than it was here at this festival built around that idea.  That was made clear by the throngs of people checking out the booths advocating green living and social consciousness and the tomato art despite the heat.  (Even though several people I spoke with assured me that today was not nearly as hot a day as the festival day has been in the past, I think that everyone there was still pretty much a stewed tomato by the time it was all said and done. But you could tell that everyone was having a fun time while stewing.)    A fair number of the festival goers were still decked out in their best tomato garb after having participated (I assumed) in the parade that had kicked off the day.  Beer was flowing and music was playing.  It was awesome, I tell you.  With my love of art festivals(and the tomato!), I was in heaven (although, with the heat, you might have thought it would have been another less desirable locale.  Have I mentioned that it was a little hot??) 

I didn't take in the parade or the beauty pageant that would be held later in the day.  I just checked out the vendors and made sure to tour Art & Invention Gallery  (the people responsible for putting this event on in the first place) and then headed for the house.  Yes, I was a wimp in the face of the heat.  I admit it.  But, before leaving, I did make sure I found my friend, Courtney Loving (owner of Hardware Designs), to check out her cool jewelry and I was lucky enough to accidentally discover that another one of my favorite jewelry artists, Katie Sasser, was also there so I could say hello and savor the eye candy that is her booth for a few minutes, too.  All in all, I definitely understand how this festival has become the go-to event in August in Nashville.   I can tell you right now that I'll be stewing again next year right along with everyone else and loving every minute of it!

Friday, August 10, 2012

Art and Tomatoes = The Tomato Art Festival!

Although the Tomato Art Festival (  has become a much anticipated tradition in East Nashville, I, myself, have never, ever been.  That's all about to change this weekend, friends!  I'm heading to an estate and moving sale first thing in the morning, but, afterwards I'm going over to check out what I know must surely be an amazing Nashville event and I can't wait!  I'm expecting to see a few friends, a few crazy pieces of tomato art, a lot of great arts and crafts and a whole lotta art inspiration tomorrow for sure.  So be sure to check in tomorrow to hear all about my big, red, round, juicy tomato adventure!

later, taters!

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Twenty Years of Stampaway Fun

So I'm back!  Prompted again to write about the artistic pilgrimage of sorts that has been happening every year in early August for the past two decades.  It doesn't happen in the desert, but in the suburbs of Cincinnati and it has a name -- Stampaway.   Stampaway celebrated its twentieth year this year and that probably makes it the oldest show of its kind still taking place for those of us who are still hardcore stampers.  I haven't been to every Stampaway, but I've been to my fair share so going each year has become sort of a ritual for me as it probably has to many many others who stamp.  Every year I notice the difference between this year's show and the last.  This year was no different I except that, being the twentieth year, I had a lot more to look back on and remember.

When I began heading to Cincinnati my kids were young and they had no interest in going to a stamp show with Mom so Dad would take them to Kings Island for the day while I indulged myself in a whole day of discovering all the newest art trends in rubber stamps, accessories and techniques.  There were vendors there from all over the United States - literally, from California to Florida - hawking their rubber and showing off what could be done with those little wooden blocks if you just added a little imagination and, of course, the hottest newest accessory, too.  In those days, you could find a rubber stamp that would help you create whatever you wanted.  There were companies whose stamps were works of art in and of themselves such as Alextamping, Meer Image, Curtis Ayuda, PSX, Stamp Francisco and Denami.  Other companies -- Ruby Red Rubber, Rubber Baby Buggy Bumpers, Ken Brown and VivaLasVegastamps-- offered humorous images and/or phrases.  There were even companies (Auntie Amy's - Museum of Modern Rubber - Art Gone Wild - Toomuchfun - Coffee Break Designs) who offered stamps that helped you create art that popped, shook, rattled or rolled.  Stampaway back then could get pretty wild and woolly.  Stampers arrived days before the show to take all manner of classes; stayed up late making the most outrageous pins they could imagine; and then lined up hours before the doors of the show opened to trade those pins with each other to keep as mementos.  Once inside, it was a mad dash to be one of the first to get to the pit o'rubber so that you could nab a good spot on the floor to dig through the mounds of unmounted stamps or downstairs to score one of the grab bags at The Rubber Tree.  And you always wanted to get to Paula Best's booth early not only to get first choice of her awesome stamps, but also to add a silver charm to your collection.  It was a glorious time of creativity and fun to be sure.

These days, my kids are grown and it's just me and my husband (number two) who make the drive from Nashville to Cincinnati.  But I don't spend the night before the show frantically making trades and I don't arrive early enough to stand in line because, although the line of people waiting for the doors to open is still there (albeit not nearly as long), the days of frenzied trading --whether of crazy pins or ATCs -- have gone.  Very few people bring anything to trade anymore.  There's no more pit o'rubber or Paula Best silver charms.  Instead, now people run to the Stampers Anonymous booth to check out the latest Tim Holtz ideas or, as this year, to gather and watch while the man himself struts his stuff through back to back demos all day long.  Others, like me, make a mad dash to the Artful Illusions booth filled with steampunk-style ephemera, unmounted stamps, unique tee shirts and pretty much anything else you can imagine.  As for the stamps, the crazy, irreverent sayings and artistic images have largely been replaced by stamps more suited to cardmaking than collage.  But I don't care.  I still love it all.   Of course, I miss the crazy days.  But I love being in the creative environment that Stampaway creates and I love the opportunity to meet up with old friends who I don't get to see other than when I make that August pilgrimage.   Sadly, another two of Stampaway's more popular and well-established vendors announced that this would be their last year at the show.   Hopefully, it won't be mine.