For this past week I was involved with the wrapping up of the recent gallery show. Shown above I was sorting through some of the art for the show, and arranged it on the wall. One of my main interest in volunteering for this fund raiser was that I could view the art ahead of the actual opening, which really I didn't want to attend as it's overcrowded, noisy, and I don't do crowds very well. I hate making chitchat. I guess I'm more the type person that if I have five or six very good and close friends that I can count on, I'd prefer that, over knowing three hundred people I barely know. Granted I don't mind meeting anyone or knowing as many people as I can. Overall, it was pretty fun and kept me involved with artwork, which I enjoyed, met a few people and other artist. I'm not a huge socialite, and tend to be way more introverted. But it doesn't hurt to step outside the box from time to time, and I have to push myself to do so, and not stay in my comfort zone.
It looks like the fund raiser was fairly successful, which is good as I'd like the gallery to stay open and financially afloat. Granted I don't know anything about that aspect of the gallery. I hardly know much about how it's run or any of the behind the scene politics. (I may not want to know either--just saying.) It did give me a little insight, and not that I agreed with everything that went on, I was glad to be involved, and also I know what I might not want to do next year, if indeed I participate.
What I find a bit weird about Tyler's city counsel and this might apply anywhere--is that they are trying to revitalize the downtown area. They have this idea and message, which seems a bit utopian to me, which wants to portray the downtown area as some sort of art, showcase mecca, and it's not. That said though, very few towns of this size: 95,000, are meccas of any sort. Downtown areas, like Tyler, and like most midsized cities are mostly a place of business. The major mall, which is not downtown was built a good deal away from the downtown area. From there, restaurants were built and started to follow the money and grow, and then you had clothing outlets and other department stores that sprung up like Best Buys or Barnes & Nobles, etc. Pretty soon, that's where the growth is, and it continues in that direction--away from downtown. They are building a new strip mall further out that way presently, along with more banks branches, etc. So I hate to sound defeatist here, but that leaves the downtown area with a lot of vacant buildings in need of repair and so forth. They have a few banks and stuff downtown, a Subway sandwich shop, a hardware store, the library, a few little struggling boutiques, but that's about it.
Oh, they also have a bar/restaurants called Rick's On the Square that struggles (I'd guess). On the weekends they'll usually have a live band, and sell beer to mostly younger people, which is at least a venue for that sort of thing, and I assume, where they make most of their money. But on week days, it appears to be a much slower business, serving overpriced lunches to business types, and selling prime rib to someone with a lot of coin to spend. (And really I bet the typical business people down there get in their car and drive somewhere for lunch or eat at the Subway. Who has $25. to spend on a meal each day?) And so it goes. So I guess I just don't get the hype or pipedream of come downtown, it's a great place to explore! There's just not a lot there, and I think everyone knows it, but the stalwart city counsel-types, that just can't let it go, or think they can bamboozle someone with their constant PR. But yeah I get it, and I also think it's a bit of small town mentality and pride. At the same time it's also a bit of not facing reality, to me anyway.
The only think I didn't care for with the volunteering came on the evening of the show. I went down to the gallery, and really, I didn't think they needed me that much, but I guess it's better to have more people show up just in case. I really didn't want to mix it up with the whole crowd thing. I was asked to straighten the artwork and put some tacky putty under some of the artwork, and also asked to hang two signs on two different walls, which I complied--although they already had a guy or two that could have done that (and just one ladder anyway). So I did that, and stood around for the actually opening, and then asked to hand out a flier (along with some others) explaining the whole ordeal. Then from there, I mostly just stood around and watched the crowd. It's weird though, as it appeared they were handing out hors d'oeuvres and appetizers and had wine and beer in the back, but not much was said about it. I could have probably used a beer for the crowd scene, and maybe something to eat too as I had to arrive early to help set up. Not a big deal, but it would have been nice to know. There were no signs or anything about it, and the main lady of the event never made mention of it. It's kind of like, if you were in the "know" then you knew. If not, you didn't.
So I stood around a bit and watched the crowd and did my best to chitchat. I was starting to wear thin however, when one of the ladies up front, grabbed me over to the side, and I know it's a chaotic-type situation, but she rattled off something to me underneath all the crowd noise, and next to the guy playing loud retro rock music up front. So I didn't catch it all, but she was saying something about the trash cans in the kitchen area, and that the trash needed to be emptied or something. So what the hell, I said, okay. I go to the back and see what's up, and I asked one of the guys manning the wine area, if he needed any help back there, and he said no, he said he just refills wine glasses.
So I see the main woman running the event, and I asked her if she needed any help, and she rattled off something about manning the trash cans, and sort of threw a roll of plastic trash bags in my direction, and said to take out some the trash to the green cans out on the sidewalk. And to tell you the truth, I was a bit taken aback by it, also a tad offended. I thought, does she want me to go around and police the area for overflowing trash and stick in a new bag in the trash container while all this is going on? I sort of think that was what she wanted... So just for the heck of it, I sort of walked around and looked, and yeah, some of the garbage cans were a bit full, but there were plenty that were empty. So I didn't think it was totally necessary or an emergency to do it at that exact moment.
At the same time, I was never told I was going to be playing garbage man for the night. Don't get me wrong, I'm not above that type thing, but she could have mentioned that at some point in time before the main event, or an email, or at one of the many meetings, something, and I might not have been so put out. I thought, man, if I spill someone's half drunk wine on my new dress shirt, I'm gonna be pissed. So, fuck it, that was my cue, exit stage left. I stepped outside, and when I thought the coast was clear, I left. There were plenty of men there to corral to do that duty afterwards, and plus, even though it's a non-profit gig, she gets paid to do her job for that, I don't. I'll extend myself somewhat, but it only goes so far. Overall though, it wasn't too bad.