Recently I’ve been going over some old files on my computer hard drive and I found the original rough drafts of some old blog posts I originally wrote for my Artomatic blogging account. This resonated with me since Artomatic is currently going on right now and I’m one of the official bloggers for this event.

There was a time when everyone who registered to take part in Artomatic (whether as a Visual Artist, a Performer, or a Filmmaker) received a free blogging account where they were encouraged to write about what went on. Not too many people took Artomatic up on the free blog. (I kind of noticed that people weren’t automatically given blogging accounts at  this Artomatic and the last one in 2012.)

I wrote a few posts but I wasn’t a prolific blogger. I usually wrote a rough draft of each post off-line using a HTML editor then posted it online once I refined it. My blog posts stayed online months after Artomatic ended until the next Artomatic is announced, when someone usually wipes the old site of everything, including old blog posts, and is replaced with a new site.

I’ve visited Artomatic for a few years before I felt bold enough to decide to take part as an artist. The first year I took part in Artomatic was in 2007 as a Visual Artist. As part of my account I had both a blog and an online catalogue where I could upload .jpegs of the art that I was planning on displaying. The blog and online catalogue were supposed to be separate in theory but, in reality, I found that the blog and online catalogue pages were mixed together.

Here’s the original online catalogue of art that I actually displayed a Artomatic in 2007.

Two Horses

Squirrel in Window

If I Should Die

Two Hungry Goats
Chi

Pink Fairy 3

Here are a few posts from my original Artomatic blog. I wrote the rough draft off-line using a HTML editor before I uploaded them, which is why I still have the original posts on my hard drive years after my old 2007 Artomatic blog was yanked off-line. Here are just a few samples from that blog in their entirety. (The only posts I didn’t bother with were the ones that announced “Come and see me in person tonight” because that would’ve been pointless.)

My First Post, April 2, 2007

Well, I’m about 99 percent done with installing my artwork. I had to work quickly because I’m going to be in Phoenix for at least part of the installation period. (I will be out of town as of Wednesday.) I look forward to seeing how people will respond to seeing my artwork online.

Easter Greetings From Phoenix, April 9, 2007

I’m in Phoenix visiting my in-laws for the Easter holiday. I will be back in DC on April 11 just in time for the Artomatic opening on Friday the 13th. I look forward to seeing everyone there.

Opening Night, April 14, 2007

Last night was not only Artomatic’s opening night but it was also my first time as a volunteer. I was originally signed up for the 4-9 p.m. shift but I arrived late due to personal issues that suddenly sprang up. Things were quiet at first but then more people began arriving around 7 p.m., which was still manageable. After 8 p.m., there were literally hordes of people who streamed in non-stop.

I was initially assigned to the front desk on the 8th floor for the first hour-and-a-half but I was then re-assigned to the front desk on the 6th floor. I spent a lot of time handing out the new hot-off-the-presses maps (which are really nice looking) along with postcards from the nearby Spanish tapas restaurant Jaleo (which is offering a choice of free tapas or free dessert with each order–this offer is for Artomatic visitors only so you’ll now have another incentive to go to Artomatic). I also spent a lot of time answering visitors questions (which were mainly about where a certain room or certain artist’s exhibit is located).

I actually had a good time volunteering. During the slow time prior to 7 p.m. I got a chance to chat with other volunteers and I also managed to get a few peeks at some of the exhibitions on the 8th floor when it was my turn to do the walkaround on that level. (That’s mainly to prevent visitors from stealing or defacing artwork.)

By the end of my shift my voice was starting to fade since I was talking so much to so many people at once. I stayed until 9:15 p.m. before my voice and the rest of my body became totally exhausted and I simply left. (I didn’t mind staying a little bit beyond the official end of my shift since I was late arriving at the beginning.)

Last night also marked the official debut of the sale of my own zines in my room (6R15 on the 6th floor in the Red Line area). Like I wrote in my last blog entry, I’m selling copies of two zines that I produced myself–“Dolls Having Fun” and “Dolls Gone Wild”–on the honor system. I have a white box where you can put $2 into (which is the cost of each zine). I know that there is a possibility that there will be a few people who will take my zines without paying but the zines are relatively cheap to produce so I can afford to take some loss. The main reason for the zines is to promote myself as an artist (the zines highlight my photography skills and many of my photos are of dolls that I customized myself wearing clothes that I sewed myself).

Once I left my shift I briefly headed back to my room to check on the zines progress and I found that people not only took two of my zines but they left $4 in the box as well. Sweet!

I Will Be at Artomatic This Wednesday, April 16, 2007

I’d like to extend my sympathy to the students, faculty and alumni of Virginia Tech for what happened today. I’m an alumni of the University of Maryland and I know the Hokies and Terps have battled each other in basketball and football but no one deserves what happened in Virginia. This really sucks.

I’m Back From My Volunteer Shift, April 18, 2007

Today I did my second volunteer shift art Artomatic. The difference between this shift and my previous shift last Friday was just like the difference between night and day. Last Friday was opening day so my shift started off being moderately busy during the first few hours as visitors trickled in but when 7 p.m. rolled around, more people started coming. It literally came to a head by 8 p.m. when hordes of people started filing in. I was constantly answering people’s questions on where to go to reach a certain artist’s area or where some band or movie was playing and I was talking so much that my voice grew hoarse by 9 p.m. They were short-staffed (mainly because a few volunteers promised to show up but never did) so I decided to stay a little bit later (which I didn’t mind since I was initially late in arriving) but by 9:15 my voice had grown so hoarse that I literally couldn’t speak anymore so I simply signed myself out at the manager’s office and left. On top of that, it took a while for me to get an elevator down to the lower floor since there were throngs of people who were waiting to use the elevator to either 1) reach the 8th floor or 2) reach the lower level so they could leave the building.

I was busy the entire time and my shift went by very fast that evening. I was also so totally exhausted by the time I left my shift that I didn’t feel like sticking around to enjoy the rest of the opening day festivities.

In contrast, today was totally empty and stress-free. I was stationed on the 8th floor for my entire shift and there weren’t a lot of people visiting. My shift ran from 11:30 a.m.-4 p.m. and I think the fact that it was a weekday afternoon affected attendance during my time there. A few people initially showed up between noon and 1 p.m. but they were mostly people who worked in other offices nearby and they were visiting during their lunch break. The most amount of people I saw at one time was a group of 10 employees of the Environmental Protection Agency who were there because they had heard about some artists in the show who had used metal and other recyclable materials in their artwork and they wanted to see it. The EPA group came in the late afternoon.

At one point I volunteered to do the walk around on that floor where I ran into a man who was tweaking his exhibit that focused on Washington, DC’s all-female football team, the DC Divas. (I bet you didn’t know that DC has an all-female football team. Well, I didn’t either before Artomatic.) The man took a bunch of photos of the team and he did his setup so that it would resemble a typical sports fan’s den complete with comfy couches and a TV that ran a DVD of the DC Divas’ victory in the playoffs last season. We got to talking and he had me sit down while I watched the DC Divas in action. I’ve never been much of a football fan but I found the action of the womens football to be far faster-paced than a typical NFL game. (I always found it frustrating to see a typical NFL team play something 5-10 seconds of a game then stop the action for several minutes before playing another 5-10 second round then stopping the action for several minutes, etc.)

I spent a while watching the DVD but it was okay since there weren’t many people on the 8th floor. I was so glad that I brought a puzzle magazine with me since I would’ve gone stir crazy otherwise.

The biggest high point of my day came when a man approached me and inquired about the sign by the elevators warning parents that Artomatic may contain subject matter that may be unsuitable for minors and parental discretion is advised. At first I thought he was complaining about some of the art having mature subject matter and I pointed the sign out to him. Then he said that he knew about the sign and he started to ask me what exactly was contained in the erotic artwork, which area was all the erotic artwork was located in, and could I please point him in the direction to the area that had the erotic artwork. I had to explain to him that there was no one area where all the erotic artwork was kept and in fact artwork containing mature subject matter was scatter throughout the 6th and 8th floors. I also explained to him that the majority of the mature artwork contained nudity (which is no different from what you’d find in a typical art museum) and that the sign was up there because there are some people who find any depiction of any nudity to be objectionable. To provide an example to the guy, I mentioned that time when John Ashcroft was the Attorney General and the first thing he did at the Justice Department was to order cloth to cover the Justice statue in the lobby simply because the female figure had bare breasts.

I hope the man found what he was looking for. To be honest, based on what I’ve seen at Artomatic so far, if you’re only looking for hardcore porn, you’d be better off staying home and browing the millions of porn sites on the World Wide Web.

That shift was so slow and dull that I was grateful when 4 p.m. rolled around and another visitor arrived at the greeting desk to relieve me for the day.

I arrived for my shift on time today. (Last Friday I was 40 minutes late because I had some sudden emergency sprang up on me at the last minute and I tried to get away as fast as I can.) I arrived exactly at 11:30 only to find the manager’s office locked. (Volunteers generally report to the manager’s office when they first arrive to sign in, hide their personal belongings, and get their special volunteer badge.) So I went over to my area to check on the progress of my zines.

Last Friday I left 20 copies of “Dolls Gone Wild” and 13 copies of “Dolls Having Fun” on the racks. I checked before I left and found that people were leaving money for the zines in the box and I found $4 there. When I checked my zines this morning, I found that 6 copies of each zine were still left. Basically, people took 14 copies of “Dolls Gone Wild” and 7 copies of “Dolls Having Fun”. I found $23.20 in the box so some people are leaving money but there are others who are taking the zines without paying for them.

I’m decided to try this for another week. I added more copies of each zine until there were 10 copies of each on the racks. I also added 10 copies of a third zine, “The Horse and The Pigeons” to the racks. (So there are a total of 30 zines on the racks–10 copies of each of the three titles.)

I also added a guest book and pen to the small table in my area because I saw that other artists had guest books and pens in their areas and I thought it was a great idea.

It took me 15 minuts to tidy up my area before I went back to the manager’s office, which was unlocked by then. Apparently someone had locked the room the night before but didn’t indicate where the key was so people had to hunt around the building until they found it. Well, I still put my arrival time as 11:30 a.m. because I did show up then. It wasn’t my fault that the door was locked.

Well, that’s it for volunteering for April. I have to volunteer for one more shift but that won’t be until next month. I’ll continue to show up to Artomatic as a visitor. The rest of the week will be iffy for me because I’m attending a dinner party at a friend’s home Friday night and I’m going to the wedding of another friend the following morning. My husband and I made tentative plans to go Sunday afternoon after attending church services in the morning but they could change at the last minute depending on whether we will feel up to it by then.

The Local Newspaper Coverage of Artomatic is a Total Bummer, April 19, 2007

During my volunteer shift yesterday, one of my fellow volunteers mentioned to me that she thought it was a shame that this event hasn’t gotten more local media attention. Last weekend I found only one mention about Artomatic–a short paragraph that was buried at the bottom of a page in the middle of the Sunday edition of The Washington Post’s Style section. Ironically The Washington Post is a major sponsor of Artomatic yet–so far–it’s not doing a great job of sending reporters to cover an event that the paper is sponsoring.

Last night I got an e-mail from Artomatic itself warning us about an upcoming story about the event that is in the lastest issue of The Washington City Paper, which was released today. The good news is that the paper’s Artomatic story is longer than The Washington Post‘s single paragraph. The bad news is that the story begins with the volunteers who failed to show up for their shifts on opening night last Friday then it segues into the Artomatic volunteer cooridnator’s rant about “whiny artists” who complained about the wall space that they were given before it ends with how the relatively new formal structure of Artomatic (which includes its first ever board of directors) has alienated artists who had participated in past Artomatics.

As a volunteer who worked the 4-9 p.m. shift on opening day, I can say that, yes, it’s true that there were artists who originally signed up to work as volunteers on opening day who ended up being no-shows. And, yes, the situation got so dire that they actually got an artist, who had participated in previous Artomatics and who had originally showed up as a visitor, to work the front table on the 6th floor even though it wasn’t his night to volunteer. (One of the reasons why I didn’t leave at 9 when I was supposed to was because this person begged to be allowed to leave first since he hadn’t signed up to be a volunteer. And one of the managers that night had also asked me to stay a little bit later until he could find someone to relieve me. I ended up leaving around 9:15 without having a replacement arrive because my voice gave out.) And, yes, I did get an e-mail from the organizers thanking me for showing up on opening night that included a line about the no-shows.

But it’s unfortunate that The Washington City Paper had chosen to focus on the volunteers who were no-shows and the griping among the artists instead of the positive aspects of Artomatic. I’ve seen a lot of very creative works done by very talented people that run the gamut of all kinds of genres and all kinds of subject matters. I’ve met other participants who were very nice and friendly who were also very grateful that the event actually happened. (Especially since last year’s Artomatic had to be cancelled because of the difficulty in finding suitable spaces in DC due to the rise in the housing bubble and real estate speculation.) I have yet to come across any “whiny artists” complaining about their space.

There are also numerous events that are taking place during Artomatic ranging from workshops designed to help artists to art classes that are being offered to the general public to free movies made by local filmmakers to live entertainment by local musicians. Just today I learned that every Thursday evening two artists will take people on a free tour of their personal top ten Artomatic picks. (Tonight is the first night for this.)

What’s really unfair about the article is that this was published during the first week of Artomatic. (The event’s one-week anniversary will be tomorrow.) Had the problems persisted beyond the first week and The Washington City Paper chose to publish that story during the third or fourth week of Artomatic, I would not protest at all. But to print such a story during the first week is akin to nipping a bud off of a rose. C’mon, City Paper, give Artomatic some time to work out the first-week kinks before you try to tear it apart in your publication.

My biggest concern about the article is that it may deter some people from actually attending Artomatic because they’ll be convinced that the event is so fucked up that it’s not worth going. Please don’t let that story deter you. Artomatic is really a great event and it’s definitely worth the effort to travel to Crystal City.

Touring the 6th Floor, April 25, 2007

Well, my husband and I never made it to Artomatic last Sunday. Right now he’s out of town so he won’t be able to make it at all this week.

Last night I finally managed to take a close look at the 6th floor for the very first time. Believe it or not, I haven’t had a chance to actually see the 6th floor despite the fact that my artwork is located on that floor. That’s because during the installation phase, not everyone was installing the art the same time as I did so there were a lot of empty walls during the time that I was installing. (I had to finish my installation quickly because I was due to be in Phoenix during the second half of the installation period.) On opening night I was initially assigned to the 8th floor (where I had the chance to do a walkaround of all the artworks on that floor) before I got re-assigned to the 6th floor. However, I wasn’t able to leave the front area of the 6th floor at all because of the throngs of crowds that were converging on the area. During my volunteer time last week, I was assigned to the 8th floor for the entire duration of my shift.

This week I wasn’t on the volunteer schedule so I could just arrive as a visitor. That was why I spent the entire time on the 6th floor last night. I was amazed at how much artwork there is on the 6th floor and the major differences between the 6th and 8th floors. The 8th floor has had all the old office walls torn down already so the area is very open and airy. In contrast, the 6th floor still has the office walls up (both floors used to house the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office) and at times I felt like I was going through a maze (which is typical in most corporate-style offices).

It was amazing the wide array of styles that were on display on the 6th floor ranging from realism to abstract. There was so much art to see and I tried to see as much as possible until my legs began to give out towards the end of the night and my legs are still sore from last night. All I can say is that Artomatic is one event that’s best seen over two or three trips (minimum) rather than trying to cram everything in one day.

At one point I sat in on a meeting that was being held by a local group called Dorkbot DC. The topic was the variety of music and art that can be created with electronics. One guy brought his portable cabinets that have electronic circuits that can make all kinds of sounds and music notes. It was really amazing to listen to. However, I had a hard time listening to the speech afterwards because the guy used a lot of technical jargon that only a computer science or electrical engineering major could understand. (I have a degree in journalism and I’ve taken art classes since college. I tried to learn programming but I could never get it.) I managed to rest my legs for a bit in any case untiil got so confused by the technical speak and I left to check out the rest of the 6th floor.

I did visit my area to check the progress of my zines. Well I found that people took five copies of “Dolls Having Fun” and five copies of “Dolls Gone Wild” zines. So far it looks like people aren’t into “The Horse and the Pigeons” zine since only one copy was taken. I found $11.80 in the box so it looks like some people are honest but others are just taking the zines without putting the $2 in the box.

I discovered that I’m not the only one who is selling stuff on the honor system. Another artist, Bono Mitchell, is selling packs of bookmarks for $5 a pack. Each pack has 8 different bookmarks based on his watercolors. There are three bookmark packs in all–United States Series, Cookbook Series, and International Series. I purchased all three packs and put $15 in the box. I now have bookmarks that I can give out as future presents for various relatives, which is awesome! 🙂

Despite that Washington City Paper article last week, there is only one artist who is actually using her space to launch a protest against the way that this year’s Artomatic is being run. Her area is located down the hallway from mine yet last night was the first time I saw it. She has made scribblings on her wall protesting the Artomatic rules and she has left documents that described her grievances against Artomatic. I don’t know whether she decided to quit Artomatic or if she was asked to leave due to some rule violation but she has made her feelings known.

Look, this person is entitled to her opinions and if she wants to use her wall space to protest the powers-that-be at Artomatic, that’s her business. But I have to admit that it’s pretty admirable that the people running Artomatic have decided to leave her wall space as is instead of simply covering it up with a mural or giving her space to one of the other artists that were on the waiting list. It takes guts to allow someone to protest Artomatic during Artomatic itself rather than try to censor it.

That artist is the only one who actually used her space to protest the running of Artomatic. Everyone else has decided to hang their artwork on the walls. However, given what The Washington City Paper has already written about Artomatic and given the fact that The Washington Post has mostly ignored Artomatic (despite the fact that it’s one of the event’s sponsors), if those publications were to send art critics, they would probably just focus on that one person who’s protesting Artomatic at the expense of everyone else.

I’ve just learned that Artomatic is having a series of benefit concerts for the victims of last week’s terrible shootings at Virginia Tech this coming Saturday. Unfortunately I’m not going to be able to make it this Saturday. (Believe me I would love to go if I could to show my solidarity with the victims.)

Well, anyway, last night was the only night that I was able to make it to Artomatic. I’ll be back next week. 😉

My Latest Visit to Artomatic, April 29, 2007

Today I visited Artomatic. I took part in the Town Hall meeting that was held by the Artomatic organizers for the participating artists. It was basically a feedback session where we talked about the strengths of Artomatic and some weak areas where Artomatic could be better. I thought it was a very fruitful meeting and there’s a possibility that some of the suggestions will be implemented at some point before the event ends next month. It’s too soon to know whether today’s meeting was effective or produced some real changes that will benefit everyone at Artomatic but it seemed pretty positive.

What was really wild was that a friend of mine from my current hometown not only stopped by my room but he wrote something nice in my guestbook. My husband later told me that he ran into the friend at a nearby coffeehouse and the friend told him that he, his girlfriend, and another friend had stopped by my area while they visited Artomatic. In addition, my friend told my husband that his friend saw my Two Hungry Goats painting and expressed an interest in buying it. My husband told the friend to tell his friend to contact me if he wants the painting. (I hope this person took one of the many business cards that I have available in my area.)

My Latest Visit to Artomatic, May 2, 2007

I went back to Artomatic this afternoon to drop off some extra zines in my area. (I stupidly left them at home when I came last Sunday.) I’m glad I came today because I had no copies of “Dolls Gone Wild” left while I had 8 copies of “Dolls Having Fun” and 10 copies of “The Horse and the Pigeons” left.

I also printed some new price tags for my artwork so I could put them up at Artomatic. I decided to cut prices of my work by 50 percent. I was inspired to do this when I attended the Town Hall meeting last Sunday and I heard that some artists have not only sold a few of their work but one guy in particular mentioned that he had sold most of his work in his space and he wanted to be able to replace the sold artwork with other pieces that he has at his home.

While I’ve done okay with the zines, I haven’t had any inquiries about my artwork at all, despite the fact that I have been near fanatical with leaving business cards everywhere in my area and I even put my e-mail address on the labels hanging underneath each of my artwork in case my business cards were all taken. A friend of mine told my husband that he took a friend with him to Artomatic and his friend’s friend had expressed an interest in buying the Two Hungry Goats painting. Unfortunately, this friend of my friend have not called or e-mailed me at all so I have no idea if he has changed his mind about wanting to buy my painting or if he simply haven’t gotten around to contacting me yet.

Artomatic has been opened to the general public for at least three weeks and I haven’t sold any of my drawings, paintings, or photographs. The only conclusion I can make is that I had priced my artwork way too high so I decided to make adjustments by lowering the prices of all of my pieces by 50 percent. I really would like to sell some of them because they have been taking up space in my home for the past few years (which is the main reason why I don’t draw and paint as much as I used to) and my husband and I are interested in decluttering our modest townhouse.

So here’s hoping that the lower prices will spur some sales. By the way, if you’re one of those cheapskates who want to hold out for another few weeks in the hopes that I’ll lower my prices even further, I’m just going to say that this is going to be the last time I lower my prices because I really can’t afford to make them even lower. (I need to recoup the cost of the materials used in my pieces at the very least.)

After I replenished my zines supply and switched the prices of my artwork, I decided to cruise all the artworks currently on display in the Yellow Line area. I really want to devote more time to seeing all of Artomatic instead of just rushing through everything in two hours because there is so much to see that you really need to make more than one trip to see everything. Besides, I find it easier to focus on just one area at a time.

By the way, all of us artists have recently been given the ability to make our own special picks of other people’s artwork at the Artomatic.org site, which gives me another reason to peruse Artomatic very slowly. As I was perusing the Yellow Line area, I was writing down some people whose work have interested me so I would remember which ones to pick when I went online. (I have a hard time with remembering names, especially if the people are new to me.) I’ll do the same as I slowly peruse the other areas of Artomatic until I’ve exhausted every area. And I’ll know when I’ve exhausted every area because I picked up another copy of the Site Map specifically to mark off which rooms I’ve already seen as I make my slow tour of all of Artomatic.

This Past Weekend at Artomatic, May 7, 2007

Where do I begin? Well, last Friday I got an e-mail from the Artomatic organizers regarding the volunteer schedule for the Cinco de Mayo festivities. When I logged into Artomatic, I was listed on the schedule as being on duty from 5-10 p.m. I could’ve sworn I had registered for an earlier shift but I decided to let it go because I thought that maybe I remembered it wrong. Well, in the e-mail I got, apparently there was a computer glitch where everyone who had registered for Saturday were placed in the 5-10 p.m. slot regardless of which time they had originally registered for and they were looking for some volunteers to switch slots to either the earlier or later times. I decided to switch to the earlier time, even though I was going to be out late the night before.

By Friday afternoon my husband and I decided to drive down to Crystal City because we wanted to eat at the Restaurante de Jaleo that’s near Artomatic (we’ve eaten at the other Jaleo locations in Washington, DC and Bethesda and we loved the food there) and because I managed to snag one of those postcards that are currently being handed out at Artomatic which entitles the user to either one free tapa or one free dessert with a purchase. I ate a very small lunch so we could spend a few hours eating tapas as a late lunch/early dinner meal until we totally stuffed ourselves.

By the time we finished eating and checking out the restaurant’s wine shop, it was getting near 6 p.m., which was the official start time of Meet the Artists night. So we went back to our car, took out our portable folding chairs, and headed over to Artomatic where we set up in my area as we prepared to greet the general public.

It was very slow as few people trickled in. Eventually my roommate, Heather Williams, arrived and I finally got a chance to meet her in person for the first time. (I found her to be a pretty nice person.) Fortunately she brought snack food for the public since my husband and I totally forgot about that detail. (It’s my first-ever major art show so I’m still learning how to put on a proper show.)

Well, anyway, by 8 p.m. many people started to amble in. There was a peculiar pattern to all this. A few people would walk in and we’d talk to them then some more people would walk in and we would try to greet the newcomers while taking to the other people for a while then some more people would come in and we’d greet those newcomers then everyone would leave at once and it would be followed by several minutes of nothing. After several quiet minutes elapse, then the whole cycle would begin again.

This went on until 10:30 p.m. when everything really quieted down. I know that the Meet the Artists Night event had plenty of competition from a few bands playing on both floors as well as screenings of movies by local filmmakers. By around 11 p.m. my husband and I were so exhausted from an entire day of eating, drinking sangria, and working at Artomatic that we left even though the Meet the Artists Night didn’t officially end until 1 a.m.

I pretty much stayed in my room the entire time. There was one time when one of the other artists got my husband and I to check out his artwork. Then there was another time when I managed to slip away a little bit to briefly check out some of the other rooms. But I wasn’t able to socialize extensively with any of the other artists besides Heather since we were supposed to greet the general public. I did suggest having a meetup of all the participating Artomatic artists during the Town Hall meeting several days ago and I hope that gets pulled off because I would love to meet the other participants in a social setting.

The next morning I had to haul myself out of bed so I could catch the Metro (we were warned that traffic around Crystal City on the Cinco de Mayo was going to be a problem) down to Crystal City in time for the start of my 11:30 a.m.-4 p.m. shift. It started off crazy because there were fears of potential trouble. Cinco de Mayo was on a Saturday this year and it always gets hyped in various ads as a day to get drunk on Mexican beer (sort of like a Hispanic version of St. Patrick’s Day). Plus Artomatic is selling alcoholic beverages in the bars on both floors. On top of that, there was an evening outdoor concert featuring the Gin Blossoms that was being held outside the building where Artomatic is being held. So we were given instructions on what to do if some drunk Cinco de Mayo partier decides to wander inside Artomatic and cause trouble.

Despite all the precautions, nothing out of the ordinary happened during my shift. I was placed on the 8th floor again as I greeted visitors, answered questions, and took a count of visitors coming and going in order to make sure that we didn’t violate the maximum number of occupants (which didn’t happen during my shift). It was mostly quiet and uneventful, except for a tour of TAG Artists that began near the area where I was working. (I later learned that the TAG Artists are those who have been very active in the local gay/lesbian/bisexual/transgender community.)

One cool thing happened to me though. I met a fellow volunteer who has long worked in the arts and she is interested in video production. I asked her if she knew a friend of mine and it turned out that she did! Yes, we both know Phil Shapiro!

What was also nice was that the nearby Starbucks actually provided free coffee to the volunteers. When I went over to the 6th floor area to get my free cup, I saw that the coffee was in an insulated box. I’ve seen wine in a box before but I’ve never seen coffee in a box.

On top of that, another local restaurant sent over some free food around 2 p.m. for the volunteers. It was a small buffet of chicken wings, two types of pasta, and four or five types of pizzas. The food was really good.

I was relieved of my duties by other volunteers around 4 p.m. but I was asked to stay a little later to help haul garbage to the large dumpster outside. It wasn’t too bad since I was instructed to clear out only the cans that were nearly full and I only found two of the cans that qualified (the other cans weren’t full enough) and there were other people helping out as well.

As I walked out of the building, I noticed that it was drizzling rain and the ground was totally soaked. Plus the weather had grown cold. I hoped that the bad weather didn’t put a damper on the outdoor concert, although the silver lining is that the bad weather could’ve deterred some rowdy drunks from walking over to Artomatic to cause trouble.

With last Saturday’s volunteer shift, I managed to fulfill the minimum required volunteer hours at Artomatic. I may or may not volunteer some more depending of such things as whether they are desperate for more volunteers and what my schedule looks like.

Yesterday was the Marketplace and I participated in it for the first time. (I wasn’t able to participate last Sunday because I couldn’t handle it after working two other shows last Saturday.) I sold mostly jewelry, polymer clay boxes, and customized dolls. There were a few people milling about on the 8th floor but there wasn’t a lot of foot traffic even though next Sunday is Mother’s Day. I still managed to sell two necklaces though. I had one guy who stopped by my table, took a look at my 2 foot tall doll that I have out there for show (she’s not for sale, I decided to use her as an attention-getting device and she has appeared in two of the zines I’m currently selling in my area as well as in one of my photos that I have hanging on the wall), and pulled out one of my zines telling me that he paid the $2 and he really liked my zines before walking away. That was very nice!

It was a pretty laid-back experience selling in the Marketplace. There was a deejay spinning some cool tunes and there were a few vendors selling a variety of stuff. It was too bad that there weren’t more people visiting because it was a really good show.

Artomatic, May 11, 2007

Last night I arrived at Artomatic because I wanted to check out this seminar on digital photography. I arrived a little bit early so I could spend some time checking out the exhibits very slowly while I try to take notes for adding to my personal picks list. I arrived at the Lapis Theater five minutes before the start of the seminar only to find one guy hunched over his laptop who told me that he will be starting late because one of the Artomatic volunteers is trying to retrieve a part for him. So I decided to check out the exhibits some more. I arrived at 6:45 p.m. only to find the same guy hunched over his laptop with no one else in the theater. I decided to look around some more until I grew tired and hungry. I arrived at the Lapis Theater but no one was inside so I decided to eat my dinner there (which I purchased from the nearby Corner Bakery). A few minutes later an Artomatic volunteer arrived and he told me that he had retrieved the part that the guy at the laptop needed only to discover that he had left so it looked like there would be no digital photography workshop at all. (The volunteer told me that the guy with the laptop–who was the workshop leader–had a hard time integrating his laptop with the equipment that Artomatic had so he couldn’t make his presentation.)

So I left the Lapis Theater and I decided to finish the rest of my meal in the Garnet Lounge. What I didn’t realize was that there was another presentation on Adrinka symbolism that can be found in Ghana so I ended up sitting in on it. It was actually a very interesting lecture and what was really amazing is that many of the symbols that are found in Ghana are similar to what I’ve seen in Native American art during my frequent trips to Phoenix to visit various relatives. On top of that there was a band who was playing very loudly in the nearby Ruby Bar so there was an unintended musical soundtrack to the presentation. (Fortunately it wasn’t a multimedia presentation with its own music or there would’ve been a problem.)

I also checked my area for the progress of my zines sales. I took away “The Horse and the Pigeons” zine because it was selling very poorly compared to the other two.

Last night was the only night I’m able to make it to Artomatic for this week.

Watching Filmstrips at Artomatic, May 16, 2007

Last night I checked out something that was literally a blast from my past. Someone actually put on a screening of filmstrips. That’s right, FILMSTRIPS. I’m old enough to remember when many teachers used filmstrips as part of the various cirriculas ranging from English to Social Studies to Science. (I think Math was the only subject where I never saw any teachers show filmstrips.) This began when I was in elementary school and it went all the way through high school.

Hell, even the Sunday CCD classes at the Catholic church my family attended used filmstrips. I can remember one time when my CCD class actually made our own filmstrip illustrating the life of King David. We basically drew stuff directly on to a blank filmstrip using grease pencils, recorded our audio using an already-written script (there was no way in hell that anyone in authority at a Catholic church was going to trust kids with writing their own scripts), and I think we simulated the beep, although I’ve since forgotten how that was achieved.

I haven’t seen a filmstrip since I graduated from high school mainly because the colleges I attended never used filmstrips. So last night was the first time I saw a filmstrip in many years.

As I watched the first filmstrip, I began to remember why I didn’t have very fond memories of watching them in class. The narration was so bad that it was unintentionally funny. The actual voice actors playing the characters in the filmstrips were unconvincing in their acting (which was on the level of an elementary school play). The photography in the filmstrips are a very far cry from high art. The music is pretty cheesy and forgettable.

But all that pales in comparison with the most annoying thing about these filmstrips–the loud beeps that signal the projectionist that it’s time to flip the frame to the next one. After seeing these filmstrips for a while, the beeping became very grating.

By the time the fifth filmstrip began, I grew very agitated with the bad photos, lousy voice acting, and the irritating “BEEP!” sound so I left. If I had sat through all the filmstrips for the entire two hours, I would’ve developed a headache (especially from all those loud beeps).

I know that it’s nice sometimes to revisit things from the past but filmstrips are the one thing that is best left forgotten never to be revisited again.

I will be back at Artomatic tonight to attend the Artist Social on the 8th floor. I am glad that the Artomatic organizers took up the one thing I suggested during one of the Town Hall meetings a few weeks back.

Last Night at Artomatic, May 17, 2007

I attended the Artist Social last night and I found it disappointing. Somewhere between 30-40 people showed up, which is just a tiny fraction of the 400-600 artists and performers who are participating in this year’s Artomatic. On top of that, I can count on one hand the number of people I had met previously when I was serving my volunteer duties. And my roommate, whom I had met on the Meet the Artists night, was also a no-show.

That was too bad since they had a lot of food available for eating. It was also awesome when someone opened a giant bottle of Pinot Grigio and had managed to pour wine from that huge bottle with no problem. (That bottle was at least three times the size of an average bottle of wine.)

So I was basically in an area with mostly strangers. I managed to do some socializing with people and I even showed off the photos of my artwork in my iPod (since all of my art was on display on the 6th floor while the event took place on the 8th floor) which inspired a few other people to consider buying iPods so they can store photos of their artwork and show to people. (iPods are a great way to show off your artwork since iPods are far more portable than most art pieces. On top of that, if you’re an aspiring filmmaker, the newer iPods will let you play video so you can show your work off to anyone on demand.)

I’m going to take tonight off from Artomatic but I will be back this weekend for the closing ceremonies.

An Unintended Interactive Art Space, May 17, 2007

Artomatic has a few areas that are meant to be interactive (such as the Digital Arts room, which includes a working demo of the ever-popular Second Life game). But there is one part of Artomatic that was not intended to be interactive but it has become one. I thought about including it in my Picks list but, for reasons that you’ll read soon enough, I really didn’t that it merited inclusion since the original artist essentially threw a hissy fit. But the response to that hissy fit is worth mentioning in this blog.

The room in question is located just down the hall from where my own artwork is displayed. It’s located on the 6th floor, Red Line area, room 6R03. The outside of the door has “Kathryn Williamson, Automatic Reply” scribbled in pencil. When you enter the room, you’ll see something that’s totally jarring. One side of the room is a conventional art exhibit featuring fused glass pieces by Kathryn Williamson’s roommate. The other side is Kathryn Williamson’s area and, boy, is it a doozy!

She left a bunch of pencil scribbles on the wall along with a bunch of printed white sheets of paper on the floor and it’s clear that she’s totally pissed. Judging from the printed notes and what she wrote on the walls, it looks like she decided to devote her entire exhibit to protesting how Artomatic is being run this year.

If you were to check her online catalogue, you’d see that she has totally withdrawn from Artomatic. I have to admit that it’s appropriate that her website has the words “I do what I do” as part of her URL.

I met her roommate briefly during Meet the Artists night a few weeks ago and she told me that she met Kathryn during the installation phase and it looked like she was working on her installation but was surprised to find what Kathryn had opted to put up instead.

Look, Kathryn is entitled to her opinions but you have to give the Artomatic organizers credit for not simply covering her area with paint or giving that space to one of the many artists who were on the waiting list.

What’s really amazing is that the visitors have been making their own contributions to Kathryn’s protest. They have been swiping business cards from other nearby artist exhibits, writing their own responses on the back of them, then leaving them behind right next to her original printed sheets. The majority of the responses have been negative. (Samples include “Did someone force you to participate?” and “The only bad art is yours!”)

I have to admit that of all the 600 artists and performers who are participating in this year’s Artomatic, Kathryn Williamson is the only one who has gone public with her dissastifaction with Artomatic and its organizers. I’m sure that there are others who have their issues with Artomatic (especially among those who have participated in previous Artomatics) but none of them have gone to the lengths that Kathryn has gone to make their grievances known to the general public.

Well, anyway, all this will only be around until this coming Sunday but it’s worth checking out briefly. Heck, maybe you’ll be inspired to make your own responses to this protest.

The Final Night at Artomatic, May 21, 2007

Due to scheduling conflicts I wasn’t able to make it to Artomatic on Friday or Saturday. (Yes, I have an active social life and my social calendar gets filled very fast.) However, I did manage to make it for the last night of Artomatic and I don’t regret it.

I was on the volunteer shift for the opening night and the difference between opening night and closing night was like night and day. Opening night was a total zoo with hordes of people getting off the elevators and moving around. In contrast, closing night was a pretty laid-back affair. There were people around but it was nowhere near the hordes that showed up for opening night. I think the main reason is because opening night was held on a Friday night while closing night was held on a Sunday night, a night when most people are preparing to go to work or school the next day.

Basically Artomatic started with a bang but ended with a whimper.

I managed to check out a few short films in the Lapis Auditorium. The films were diverse–ranging from interesting to totally bizarre. I think the best film was Portrait From a Life in Progress about a Polish woman whose privileged upper class life was in total upheaval from both World War II and the post-war Communist government. Despite her hardships, she managed to immigrate to the U.S. where she became an engineer at a time when engineering was considered a man’s job.

After watching movies for an hour and a half, I decided to move on and I checked out the various live acts on the 6th floor. There weren’t a lot of people around that I saw. I also checked out the 8th floor because I heard that there was a drumming circle but I saw very few people check out the drums that were available for anyone to beat on.

I did check out the two exhibits by people who didn’t really have exhibits. The first was by Tara Campbell, whose art was in Austria and it didn’t arrive for the start of Artomatic so she painted her space in such a way that provided three squares where her canvases would be hung along with a timeline documenting where her art is currently located. As the weeks wore on, her artwork still hadn’t arrived. It wasn’t until the final week of Artomatic when her artwork finally arrived. It was nice to finally see what her canvases looked like in person.

Then there’s Kathryn Williamson, who not only decided to withdraw from Artomatic at the last minute but she turned her space into a major protest over how Artomatic is being run this year. I wrote about her in a previous blog entry but since that time, the feedback from visitors have grown exponentially. On the final night I saw a sign tacked outside the door to her area that read “Artomatic 2007 Chronic Complainer”. (Basically someone did this on a computer using the actual Artomatic logo then printed it out on an ink jet printer.) In her area I saw more notes scribbled on the back of business cards and flyers taken from other areas (the vast majority were negative) and people even started to write stuff on the walls. My personal favorite was this one: “The next time you need to complain, please give me a call. I only charge $45 an hour.”

I also stopped by my own space and I found something awesome. You see, there is this person known as Brash who is the self-styled Artomatic poet-in-residence. Brash has been going around leaving tiny poems at each artist space about one piece in the artist’s area. At first only a few artists were treated to one of Brash’s poems then, as Artomatic went on, some more artists got tagged with a Brash poem.

However, neither me nor my roommate, Heather Williams, had received any poems. It wasn’t until last night when I finally found that Heather and I each got a Brash poem. Awesome! I really like the one that I got and I hope that Heather is pleased with hers as well (although I really can’t speak for her on this one).

I became bored with Artomatic after a while and I left around 9 p.m. There were notices about an after-Artomatic party that was starting at one of the restaurants across the street at 10 p.m. but I couldn’t handle it because I’ve been eating way too much lately and it’s gotten to the point where I’m coughing up bile in my sleep and my clothes are starting to get a bit tight on me. (Today I’ve started to go on a diet where I’m not going to eat so much fatty fried foods followed by desserts high in white sugar.)

Well, anyway, I felt kind of wistful as the night drew to a close. It was a very hectic six weeks for me. Not only did I have to deal with Artomatic but I was also working other shows simultaneously (Dirty Pictures show in Baltimore, the Big Art Show, and the Greenbelt Green Man Festival) to the point where I became totally exhausted at times. It it hadn’t been for the other shows, I probably would’ve spent more time volunteering at Artomatic beyond the required three shifts.

Now that Artomatic is over, I’m going to have to deal with taking everything down. The good news is that I have someone who is interested in buying one of my drawings. I’m going to meet her tomorrow afternoon and hopefully everything will come off smoothly. (Knock wood!) I will arrive by Metro tomorrow and just begin with taking down the small items that I can easily carry in a bag (such as my business cards) while I wait for my buyer and conduct business transactions. This coming weekend my husband and I will bring the car down to Virginia as we haul the larger stuff down the freight elevator and load the car up.

I Sold Three of My Artworks!!!, May 22, 2007

It’s been quite a day for me. First of all, I got an e-mail from the organizers of the Dirty Pictures show in Baltimore (where I exhibited a couple of my photos at the same time as Artomatic) informing me that one of my photos has sold! (I’ve been so involved with Artomatic and other shows that I haven’t even seen this exhibit yet. I need to do so soon since it closes on May 31.)

Then I went down to the Artomatic site to meet up with a person who wanted to purchase my “Squirrel in Window” drawing. I decided to take Metro because driving from Maryland to Virginia is such a pain during weekday rush hour. I met up with the person who wanted to buy my drawing and as we were conducting business, she saw my “Two Hungry Goats” painting and she fell in love with that one as well. So she ended up buying both! We were both very happy with the outcome!

So two artworks from Artomatic plus the one from the other show equals three pieces sold!!! Awesome!!!

Since I took Metro, I focused on removing the business cards, guestbook, and leftover “Dolls Having Fun” zines (the “Dolls Gone Wild” zines were completely sold out). As I entered the room, I felt wistful, especially since my roommate, Heather Williams, has already cleared out her stuff. Before and after my buyer arrived to do business, I took down all the artwork, placed them on the floor and removed the nails from the walls. (Yes, we had to remove the nails as well.) As I removed the envelopes on the wall that held my business cards, pieces of the wall paint came off with the envelopes. (I used duct tape to hang the envelopes, which can be harsh on paint.) It’s just as well that the landlord is planning on gutting the entire 6th floor after June 3 (which is the deadline for removing all the artwork). I carted off the small stuff and left the artwork and small table behind as I took the Metro back home.

On the way out, a couple of volunteers were giving away free Artomatic buttons and bracelets. (They were originally for sale in the Artomatic store but they had plenty leftover.) So I took one of each. I have two nice souveniers from the show now.

I will be driving down sometime this weekend (either Saturday or Sunday, I haven’t decided which day yet) to cart away the rest of the stuff. I prefer the weekends because the traffic is less of a hassle and parking is easier to find.

Looking back on the original 2007 blog posts, I have to admit that I had a great time since it was my first Artomatic. The only bad thing that happened, which I didn’t mention in that blog at the time, was that a longtime artist friend of mine from my Unitarian Universalist congregation passed away from pancreatic cancer. The memorial service was held on a day that I was originally scheduled to serve on one of the required Artomatic volunteer shifts. (Visual Artists are required to serve three volunteer shifts.) Luckily I received enough advanced notice that I was able to switch my time to a different shift just a few weeks earlier so I didn’t have to choose between Artomatic and my friend.

That’s it for the original 2007 blog entries. I have other Artomatic blogs that I’ll share with you on later Throwback Thursdays.

Next in This Series

Part 2 (Artomatic 2008)
Part 3 (Artomatic 2009)
Part 4 (Artomatic 2012)

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