Monday, November 03, 2008

Our Renaissance Weekend

Laura and I just spent the weekend dressed like gypsies, selling honey at the annual Las Cruces Renaissance ArtsFaire. We enjoy dressing like our “true selves,” partaking in the silliness, and making lots of money. This was our eighth year – we’ve gone every year since 2001. Actually, my association with the Faire goes back to 1975 or so, when it was held at the Holy Cross Retreat south of town, and my first wife Judith sold her little clay animals there. Laura did face painting at the Faire in 1988, right after I had moved into her apartment, so the Faire always has a golden glow in my memory, associated as it is with the blossoming of our love affair. But it wasn’t until 2001 that we actually started going in a serious way.

The Faire is a juried competition (for artists and craftspeople – we fall under the category of “Products of New Mexico” which aren’t juried), so the quality level is high. There is so much exquisite artwork available there. I used to have this fantasy that it would be nice to have $2000 to spend at the Faire, but this year I had to raise it to $5000. But if I actually bought that much, I would have to build a new house to house it in. And besides, our decorating style is more like posters of the Milky Way and Pleiades (our spiritual home, ha ha).

This year, after all the financial meltdown foofarah, I was curious to see what our sales would be. Sales have been excellent at Farmer's Market and our grocery store outlets, so – at least as far as honey sales go – the economic crash hasn’t penetrated down to our level yet. But the Ren Faire, being more of a frivolous offshoot of the “real” economy, might possibly be more sensitive to economic glitches. The answer: this year was our best ever! The consumers still have plenty of money to spend, at least for honey. We talked to a couple of craftspeople, who said they also did well. So evidently the “spend until you drop” mentality will continue until the consumers actually drop.

This nation has been in an unprecedented arts and crafts renaissance since at least the 1970s. Thousands of artists and craftspeople have made a handsome living plying their trade part of the year, then loading their product into their RVs and travelling the renaissance fair circuit every fall. If there are any archeologists of the future sifting through the rubble, they will probably marvel at how a civilization capable of such refined artistic achievement could have allowed their only life support system to be destroyed.

But you can’t really blame the artsy-craftsy types. Doubtless most of them are liberals, and they would support any and all sustainability initiatives. But they, like all of us, have been trapped likes flies in amber, within a civilization in which intelligent thinking has simply not been allowed to actualize into the physical world. (An example of intelligent thinking would be, “Let’s keep CO2 levels down.”) As the Whole Earth Catalog said, “Move the molecules, or admit you’re a spectator.” We have been a nation of spectators, distracted by the infinitude of entertainments available to us. (Our own lives have become the ultimate entertainment.) Freedom of speech never translated into freedom of action. Sure, you were always free to act in a truly creative way, as long as it was limited to beating your head against the wall.

So it’s no wonder that almost everybody quickly gauged the parameters of acceptable behavior (defined by how much money there was to be made), and made sure their activities remained within the box.

But all this will be changing by and by, and then we will have undreamed of creative opportunities. Stay tuned for exciting new developments.


Anonymous jacques said...

Good report with a mix of personalized history. Glad to hear it's going so well... Keep up the good work!

7:22 AM  

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