Thursday, February 26, 2009

It Takes More Than a Village (Or The Longest Post EVER)

Coffee in the Denver architect series mug, the sound of the spouse washing dishes for background music. It may take a village to raise a child, but it takes more than a village to support me in my Siyeh Studio adventure. Maybe it's the recent Academy Awards ceremony that has me in such a reflective, appreciative mood, but, whatever the cause, today I thank all the people who are making it possible for me to get through the extreme growth in new directions that I have experienced since last fall. Many people have marveled to me about everything I manage to accomplish in a day, and my standard response is a modest self-deprecation and a list of all the things I don't do that allow me time to do everything else. But the time last week when Dave was off in Austin on a job interview--the two days that felt like two weeks--really opened my eyes to how much other people do on a daily basis to keep Siyeh Studio (and me) running--either for no or for very little pay (or just for love).

Thanks go out to Todd for so many things since last year--from helping with the initial field trip for the Waldorf School 7th graders last year to hitting the road with me for three, exhausting wholesale shows to kick off the year. Yesterday we went display shopping and found all the little tables and other display pieces for setting up the Hemispheres showroom in Dallas. We hit Home Depot for bright silver paint cans and drop cloths (important visual elements), a thrift store for tables that they didn't have (what they DID have was a million people shopping--it was 50% off day and the store was packed with check-out lines 10 deep), and finally the dollar store where we found tables, bookcases and a computer desk--that will all be covered with drop cloth and used to hold pieces on stands in the showroom.

Becky, the Wunder Assistant, has kept the morceaux flowing, the studio clean(ish), the work shipped, and my brain from spurting out my ears from stress when I just had too much scheduled for even an alien to accomplish. She provided technical expertise and another pair of hands for the 7th grade field trip, kept the garden watered all through the long, hot summer, and faithfully manages all the studio recycling and trash. This week she went Above and Beyond by following Dave to FedEx with the department store shipment (because FedEx wouldn't do a sameday ground pick-up at the studio) and labeling all the boxes there (Dave was the muscle needed to GET the 200 lbs of glass and metal to FedEx) as the clerk scanned them for shipment.

Bill Snell is not only a great creative business partner, but he really stepped up to the plate for me at the beginning of this year by building me a wood and steel back-wall display for two shows that he didn't even do. He also came down for a few days to help Todd and me do the set-up for the Atlanta's Mart show. It was his idea that we put together a line of small glass pieces in metal stands to better fit buyers' needs at this year's shows, and he is the one who organized a long working weekend away at their family beach house in Charleston for our two families. That weekend was the single most restful, energizing and motivating business occurrence of the last year for me.

I thank Elaine for the incredible sketches and doodles she did while Bill and I talked "business" during the weekend away. It is thanks to her proliferation that we ended up with *eight* new stand styles instead of just the one or two Bill and I had thought of. Tomorrow she is coming down (with their whole family) to do a run-through showroom set-up in my studio with Todd and me. Then next weekend she is coming down again to go to Dallas with me to set-up the showroom for real. It was also Elaine who designed and had printed the new Black Cat ArtWorks/Siyeh Studio duplicate order forms that we are using at our shows this year. She is the calm in the eye of our booth set-up storm, and the voice of reason in all our chaos.

Dee, Nancy and Sara make up the core of an artist network extraordinaire. Nancy and Sara mentored me through my first Buyer's Market show years ago, and they have provided advice, resources, support, and great dinners at the spring Buyer's Market ever since. Dee helped with the 7th grade field trip and is rolling up her sleeves to help with summer camp too. She also spent many days since the acquisition of the new studio coming down to help move things, set up and organize, fill frit, make morceaux--whatever needed to be done to keep the orders flowing out the door.

V is an old friend and my new bookkeeper with whom I am meeting again this morning to put the final touches on my studio books before sending them off to the accountant. For the first year *ever* I did not do three weeks of hair-tearing data entry punctuated by what-the-heck-was-this-for's. I don't know what the state of her hair is, but V did almost all of the entry for a year's worth of studio expenses for me over the past few weeks. She is a fully trained, certified CPA in England, but here in the US (in firm possession of her little green card) she provides very affordable bookkeeping services and unflappable calm to non-profits and flighty, disorganized artists. I am sooo lucky she took me in hand!

Dan the carpenter has put a roof over my head and propped up the floor beneath my feet--quite literally--since I got the new studio. This week--after finishing his initial recovery from double hernia surgery--he is going to climb up on the studio roof to affix the chimney caps he made for me while he was convalescing. A few months ago he came on a Saturday afternoon and put in the sidelights for me when I was working under yet another insane deadline so I could get the photos in for the Glass Patterns Quarterly article. He moved glass (not a normal carpenter job), hauled rubbish and did a hundred other things for me just because he is my friend and I was in need.

Mike has been perhaps my supporter longer than anyone else as he and Keith have been patrons of my work since the late 80's--providing much needed income during some pretty lean times. Over the years he has also donated his considerable expertise to my self-promotional efforts in ways that range from writing my artist bio for me to, setting up websites, and creating logos to gifting me with printing services. He started by TAing my Phonetics class and editing my Master's thesis all those years ago at the University of Chicago, and he still cleans up and corrects my grammar (when he can catch me) and keeps me on the marketing track.

Finally, there is Dave, the spouse of my days and the love of my heart. I have almost 14 years worth of things for which to thank him both personally and professionally, but here and now I am going to focus on the past couple of weeks. They have been rough for him. He was not prepared to be laid off, and the transition time between jobs--looking for something that will suit him and trying to keep motivated and positive while being at home (he is not good at not working)--have been mind-blowingly stressful. And, yet, during that time, instead of devolving into his navel and having a morose little poor, poor pitiful me party, he has taken on increasingly more of my home duties and he has also become another pair of hands with a car for the studio. He has run studio errands, moved display furniture, is putting together all the furniture I bought yesterday, and makes me lunch every day. He massages muscles tight from stress and exertion, and remains calm and cheerful throughout. I am lucky beyond words to be married to him.

There are assuredly people I have Forgotten To Mention, but this post is getting long. When I do think of them, I will jot a note here to remind myself how blessed I am by their presence in my life too.


Bill said...

All things worthwhile take group efforts...

Vanessa Jacob said...

Since it sounds like you are traveling to Dallas next week -- I assume driving with all of that furniture -- and Dave is coming to Austin the following week, is he going to go with you to Dallas? Or, are you traveling in series and individually to Texas?

Dee said...

thank you for your friendship ;) i'm glad to be able to help ;)

peggy sue said...

How lucky you are to have the little village people!