Monday, June 21, 2010

Once Again I Am a Cautionary Tale

Boardwalk Art Show - 72, 2010

Look, if I’m going to make mistakes in the course of my brilliant artistic career and not learn from them, somebody ought to benefit. Why not you?

I went to the Boardwalk Art Show this past weekend. Twice, in fact. My wife and I went one day. I went back alone the next day.

The Boardwalk Art Show is a Virginia Beach institution. This was the 55th. By that standard I’m something of an institution, too, since I’m three years older than the Show. But we’ll leave that alone. I’m not happy with the increasing frequency of references to my age lately.

I didn’t take any pictures the day I went to the Show with my wife. I saw some I should have taken. The young African American woman eating fresh pineapple would have been a superb color photograph, the bright yellow of the pineapple contrasted with her coal back skin. The old man with the elaborate tattoo, an unexpected combination of age and contemporary body art. But you know how I am about approaching people. Regrets, I’ve had a few, as Frank said.

I used to take pictures of some of the art that caught my eye at the Boardwalk Art Show. I never did anything with them, tough, and to be honest a lot of the work shown this year just wasn’t very interesting to me. There were a few interesting conceptual works in the Show. There was only one painting I saw that I would want to bring home and live with. Maybe I’m expecting too much of a show whose audience seems more interested in $29 art like they used to sell at “starving artists” sales at motels on weekends. (I once had a boss who was immensely proud of having scored just such a piece of “sofa size” art.)

Photography has exploded on the regional outdoor art show circuit. There were more photographers exhibiting at the Boardwalk Art Show this year than I’ve ever seen before. A few were showing work that is thoughtful or engaging. But most of it….well, let’s just say that if I see another Tuscan villa, beautiful sunrise at a tropical beach or the gargoyles of Notre Dame overlooking Paris, I’m not going to pay $600 for it. I probably won’t even go into the booth to look at it. Isn’t it interesting how a site like Flickr that gives us access to such a rich array of interesting and engaging photography only makes the sameness of so much photography obvious?

So let’s tally my mistakes so far:

  • I passed up the chance to photograph the woman eating pineapple.
  • I passed up the chance to photograph the old man with the tattoo.
  • I let a friend I haven’t seen in a long time walk by without saying hello while I was composing a picture.

Boardwalk Art Show - 72, 2010

On the plus side, I did get started on a new series of beach images I’ve been wanting to do. But even there I made a mistake. You’ll have to wait to hear about that one.

I sprained my right foot while working in the garden about a month ago. (I know this seems unrelated, but hang on.) My guess is that I was using the shovel while wearing shoes that didn’t provide enough sole support. The sprain’s been a nuisance, but lately it seemed to have been getting better.

Until Saturday, that was. The final error I’m willing to admit to is that I gave no thought to what walking for several hours on the cement Boardwalk in flip flops would do to my sprained foot. Upon hearing of this, one friend advised giving the foot a rest. Another got right to the point, saying, me to, “Take care of the foot and don’t be stupid.”

Stupid is not learning from my mistakes.


  1. God doesn't want us to learn from our mistakes. We would have put him out of business long ago. I resolutely refuse to learn from my mistakes, and it makes me feel all pious and whatnot.

  2. Hahaaa! I'm laughing at Walt's comment. And whatnot. Well, it IS summer, after all: and summer's all about flip flops and flat feet, oui?

    I like these shots you got here. Looking forward to whatever you DID choose to focus on, too.

  3. no - no flip flops. Didn't you learn from Kerry?

  4. "Laughing at our mistakes can lengthen our own life. Laughing at someone else's can shorten it."
    Cullen Hightower

    Creativity is allowing yourself to make mistakes. Art is knowing which ones to keep.
    Scott Adams

  5. You're too hard on yourself, you know. And do watch out for that foot. David's little foot incident, basically ignored by him for a year, ended up requiring three-part surgery. Nice photographs---my skin hurts after looking at those broiled backs.

  6. I used to go to the Boardwalk Art Show all the time years back. And yeah, there's lots of stuff to glide right past..... but it was also fun...
    And just curious, because I am hesitant to shoot people too... if you had had your camera, would you have asked the pineapple eating woman first? or backed up out of sight, or what?