As President’s Day weekend passes (and I’m sure all of you put on powdered wigs or top hats all weekend), so also passes an annual festival down in a snappy area of South Florida known as the Coconut Grove Arts Festival.
For many years, I would try to gather a gaggle of people and head down there to traipse around the streets filled with artists of all media and imagination. For those of you who have attended such festivals or fairs, you know the creations can run in the single dollars to the single bank vaults.
A not-unwelcome ancillary benefit of the festival, placed in such a special time of year, is the people who attend. Traditionally, by mid-February, South Florida begins to experience its Spring season (this usually lasts about 11 days and we sweep right into Summer – for instance, it was 82 today). With such balmy weather and us being smack in the middle of our “snowbird” season (northern visitors), the people watching is as much fun as the art viewing.
Though I have often been impressed with a variety of items for sale at the show, I have rarely purchased a piece, owing to the difficulty in figuring out just where the heck I would put the odd and showy items that attracted me.
For example, there was one artist, I believe she sold under the title “Joan of Art”, but my memory is hazy so don’t go writing me irate letters if you are related to her (or you’re her lawyer). She crafted these amazing “Humpty Dumpty” figures out of bronze. I was captivated by the imagination that went into these characters.
Understand, I had no previous allegiance to the nursery rhyme or any egg-fetish I’m aware of. But somehow, the combination of the implausibility of Humpty Dumpty and the extraordinary expressiveness she created on each individual figure seized me. Alas, though I could conceive of spending the unfortunately high price (at my salary during those days), I could not rationalize the expenditure. I “excused” myself by claiming an inability to figure out where I could display such a fine work. No one bought it (in this case, literally).
Every year, for the next several years, I would talk of nothing else when the festival was to arrive and demanded a commitment from my fellow travelers that we visit “the Humpty Dumpty artist”. Sadly, by the time my salary rose to the point I felt I could indulge myself, I was unable to locate the artist at the show that year.
The traveling group ended up breaking apart (it was a long ride down and back) and the show just wasn’t as much fun without friends along. I haven’t gone in a few years now, so I don’t know if the artist has returned to the festival.
Though I never did purchase my big Humpty Dumpty, I was greatly pleased when a friend of mine surprised me with a “mini” Humpty, created to sit on a desk or book shelf edge. He sits there proudly, right now, a small reminder to add one more item on my list of things to accomplish one day.
I hesitate to call it a “bucket list”, because, of course, it’s unwise to put all my eggs in one bucket.