First Day of Edom Art Festival in the Books

The birds they sang
At the break of day
Start again
I heard them say
Don’t dwell on what
Has passed away
Or what is yet to be.

Leonard Cohen, “Anthem”

Saturday evening finds me smiling as I sit in The Gallery at Redlands to finish out the night. The first day of the Edom Art Festival was 10-5:00 and I feel the fatigue, but it could have been worse. Yesterday after setting up, I was thoroughly whooped. I found myself retiring to bed in the Redlands Hotel at 10:00 and setting the 6:00 alarm for a guaranteed eight hours’ sleep. When I awoke with the alarm this morning, Leonard Cohen’s words rang musically in my ears, and I rose from my bed smiling, believing.

Arriving at the festival grounds by 8:00, I tweaked my tent display, finishing 30 minutes before the festival opened. The first patron who entered my booth took one look at my work and asked: “Are you the artist?” When I answered Yes, he continued: “Congratulations. These are beautiful.” That man probably has no inkling of how much his words lifted me, the first words of the day. And then, for seven hours, I sat in my chair outside the tent and witnessed it filled nearly the entire day. COVID cancelled our festival last year, so this year the public came out in full force and it felt wonderful being in the art circuit once again.

Though I stayed busy most of the day, I still found time to think over some art-related matters while watching the patrons entering and exiting my booth. My recent readings of Heidegger’s lectures on Nietzsche have called to mind a passage from Emerson that echoes what both Heidegger and Nietzsche are discussing in their own separate musings:

One moral we have already deduced, in considering the circular or compensatory character of every human action. Another analogy we shall now trace; that every action admits of being outdone. Our life is an apprenticeship to the truth, that around every circle another can be drawn; that there is no end in nature, but every end is a beginning; that there is always another dawn risen on mid-noon, and under every deep a lower deep opens.

Ralph Waldo Emerson, “Circles”

As I sat in my booth today and shared with patrons my own artistic odyssey, I felt an emotional tug as I recalled the constant push to create better. At this stage of my life I feel that I am learning so much more about making art than at any other time of my journey. I love Emerson’s essay “Circles,” particularly the part where he creates this powerful visual picture of a person pushing out from him a creative force that piles up like a berm surrounding him. The next push has to be harder, so the material can go over the top of the berm, spreading the circle further out and higher. And with each successive push, more force is required to expand the circle. This is how I feel as an artist these days. I want every painting effort to exceed in quality the one spent on the last painting. I love that sense of challenge. As soon as the festival ends tomorrow and I catch up on my college grading, I intend to pick up the brush and get back to work.

The day has been filled with wonder. Thank you for reading.

I make art in order to discover.

I journal when I feel alone.

I blog to remind myself I am not alone.

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