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So...the weekend. Friday we (Deb and I) actually got out of Joliet at a decent time and headed down to Monmouth for the artist reception of the Amateur Photo Show. I actually consider myself a bit more advanced than amateur but the rules stated anyone who didn't make their living from photography or teaching photography was eligible to enter. I make my living from buying photography so they felt I was OK I guess.

We stopped in Wyanet at the meat locker and I bought 40 pounds of butterfly pork chops and 25 pounds of baby back ribs and a few pounds of applewood smoked bacon. mmmmmmm

Then on to Monmouth. Got to the Buchanan Center for the Arts around 5:30. I'm getting known there and that was kind of nice. when I walked in the judge from the last show saw me and came up right away to ask , "giving it a go again this time?" I shook his hand and told him I was. He'd already seen all my pieces and told me they were great. Then both of the gallery directors came up and congratulated me for getting into the juried show. One took me aside and told me not too many Illinois artists had gotten in. So I found out the skinny on that. 400 entries from 28 states. 70 entries were chosen representing 54 artists. So not many got more than 1 in. The categories are photography, works on paper, ceramics, sculpture, mixed media. I asked how many photos got in and they said less than half a dozen. So I've got a better than even shot of winning I think. But even if I don't, just getting chosen was a pretty high honor plus my work will be featured in a catalog in September and I'll get invited to more juried shows now.

We walked around and looked at all the 145 photos in the show and I have to say they were mostly very impressive. I felt like some were better than mine but I also felt mine were on par with several. It's hard to know how good an artist you are until you see your work hanging with the work of others. Around 6 they started announcing the category winners. I kept holding my breath though the Honorable mentions and when I didn't get any of those I kept kinda hoping I'd get at least one category winner. As it turned out, I didn't. So I went around congratulating all the ones who did. It was nice to see some first time entries won. The judge was a photojournalist who was not present. But he left pages of notes on how he judged everything and the artists could get their comments if they wanted them. I didn't ask for mine. Not that I'm not curious but I recognize karma when I see it. See, I used to be an art critic for a newspaper and when I overheard some of the judging comments, I knew he'd fallen back on things he learned about art in general like line and perspective and framing which is how I used to judge things as well. You do that when you want to say something positive about each piece especially when you don't really get the meaning of the piece. And that's fine, at least he tried to give some constructive criticism. I would just rather hear about the emotions each piece brought up. Knowing about form and line and perspective is kind of like Photography 101 to me. But any competitive show is partly about figuring out how the judge will judge and submitting pieces on that basis if you want to win. The juried show is judged at least partly by artists so I figure I've got a better chance of winning there. Still it's nice to have my photos hanging and being seen in a real gallery.

Here are some images from the reception.

This was the winner in the Open category:

And the show overall winner:

Some of the Animal entries:

And some others including 2 of mine

Plus Deb and me with the photo of my grandma milking.

Afterward we went to the farm and crashed just ocassionaly getting up to do prep things for the party on Saturday. I did make a marinade for all the pork of BBQ sauce, bourbon, brown sugar, ground chillis and beer and go it soaking. Saturday morning I was up very early and on the road by 7 am to head to the fireworks plant in Iowa to pick up fireworks for the party. I took Evin, Gwen and Rob's 16 year old with me. he's very excited because in 2 years he can be on the pyro team. He's already saying he's going to be a shooter. He'll be surprised to find he's got to work his way up for that just like everyone else did. Also they found a tumor in his mouth a few weeks ago and he had it removed this week so I figured it would lift his spirits a bit.

We got to the plant early and talked to Jim, one of the owners. He got our paperwork straight and took us out to the C class building. So this is what $2000 of fireworks looks like.

Of course I didn't pay $2000. A small fraction of that actually. But we get a huge discount as shooters. I let Evin pick out about $100 worth for him and his friends and he was happy. Good thing we took the back seat out of the van. We'd have never fit it all in.

We were back in town by 1 and I spent the rest of the day setting up. We started cooking at 5 pm. All the pork, 30 pound of catfish, bass, crappie and bluegill, all the salads you can imagine, baked beans and desserts. vainpoppy, her friend Heather and husband Andy showed up from Indiana and brought a Guiness cake. Smelled good even though I couldn't eat it because of the chocolate. At 7 we set up the fireworks show. We actually had way more than enough for a good show. Rob and I ended up firing it together at around 9 so we could keep it at around 25 minutes. We had one cake tip over on us and I got hit in the leg but no one got hurt. I think Andy was impressed. We had him watching from a corner. The finale was excellent 150 shell breaks. All the party goers said ti was better than the Rushville show we'd done the previous week. That was because there was more stuff in the sky at any one time and the crowd was closer. Later, I lit a bonfire to burn up the leftover spent fireworks from the Rushville show. Apparently there was a little live stuff left that went off and scared the begeezus out of several people.

We had about 40 - 50 people there at any one time. Many left around 10 but the hearty few kept going until about 2 am. I got the wine out and we passed the bottles. A furry friend showed up around midnight to eat the berries out of one of the mulberry trees. Young raccoon who I think lives under the garage. He was not much interested in the fried fish we offered him. Bet he will be this week as he goes through my trash. *sigh*

Everyone was gone by 2:30 and the Indiana contingent hit the hay. Deb had gone to la la land hours before. I stayed up listening to night sounds and the sounds of people settling in upstairs. The things I don't often hear in that house. And I watched a bit of the Doors movie on HBO.

Next morning I was up before 8. Not that I wanted to be. Everyone else straggled down later and Andy and I went to town for breakfast ingredients. I made Amaretto French toast. I was out of Gran Marinier. About the time I wanted to start cooking, Rob and Toni showed up so they helped me clean up the big stuff quickly. Then I made breakfast and afterward helped people get on their way home.

We took a last minute picture of me and the Indiana contingent out by the PARTY sign. That's Heather, Jen, Andy and Me.

Then they got on their way home. Nice folks.

Johnie showed up about that time and we spent the afternoon working on the tractor and putting front brakes and a new serpentine belt on my car. Then about 7:30 Deb and I headed for Joliet. We got a really nice sunset pic along the way home.

About Henry, I had to pull over and take a nap for half an hour. I was exhausted and starting to hallucinate a bit. We finally made it home around midnight. All in all a great weekend.




( 26 comments — Leave a comment )
Jul. 15th, 2009 03:57 pm (UTC)
Looking at your gallery shots, you are in with some really fine work. Congratulations, and here's hoping to more showings and winning.

The pyro in my is drooling over the fireworks. Or maybe it was the description of the party and food. It's all good.

Lastly, your hair in the last photo. The Camaro is missing. ;)
Jul. 15th, 2009 04:03 pm (UTC)
I know, I know. I had it down to the middle of my back until I cut it last summer to get the present job. Now I'm letting it grow to shoulder length. In the meantime I'm Mullet Man. I did used to have a 72 Mustang. The food for the party is always awesome. I'd love to have you sometime. I was really pleased about the gallery show and happy for the people who won.

Jul. 15th, 2009 04:49 pm (UTC)
I think Granny milking should have got something for sure?

It sounds like you had another blast of a party. ;)
Jul. 15th, 2009 04:53 pm (UTC)
Yeah, we did. I would like for it to have won something but like I said, it's the eye of the beholder or in this case the judge that makes the decisions.

Jul. 15th, 2009 06:11 pm (UTC)
Yeah but...that's all ya got for $2000.00? Looks like what we get for $400.00. I fill the bed of my truck for $400.00 (hell yeah all the illegal shit. You know, for scaring birds and whatnot out of trees. At least that what the paper I sign says I'm buying them for)

Crazy Larry has stopped having parties for a few years. It got to the point where people he barely knew would drop their kids off and drive away. Teenagers so rock-stupid that they'd light the fuse and be looking down into the mortar tube to see if the wick was still going. Or fire bottle rockets at each other while standing next to the main pile of artillery. Larry didn't want to get sued when (and it was a matter of when, not if) some dumbass shot his fool head off. We convinced him to publicly cancel for a while then start up again on the sly.
Here's our haul New Year's before last:
Best of all, it's buy 1, get one free on EVERYTHING! And if you spend over...$200.00, I think it is, you get a free shirt. Did ya get a free shirt? Tell your place to offer free shirts! Think of the prestige! LOL
Jul. 15th, 2009 07:13 pm (UTC)
We paid a little over $400. So that's a bit better than one free on everything. $2000 is what you would have paid if you bought it at a roadside stand. We got 68-500 gram cakes. A case of the huge rockets. 200 - 3 stage 1.75 inches shells, several dozen cakes of firecrackers and several other things I shouldn't mention. It filled the back end of a van with the seats removed. This isn't a public store. We work for the company doing professional shows. I have to have a permit signed by the fire marshall in my county to even do a show at my farm since they are illegal in IL. We follow the same rules for the party that we do on a professional show. And since our licenses come from Homeland Security, I'd prefer it if we didn't get busted for setting off illegal shit past what we have a permit for. We spent the prior weekend doing 4 shows with 3-8 inch mortars and B Class cakes. While we've got the licenses to use the same at the farm, it's a pain in the ass to make sure the neighbor's horses are 300-800 feet away from our shoot site and we don't blow out their windows shooting 6 inch salutes. And I'd also not like to burn the woods down at my farm.

We get piles of T-Shirts from the plant. We can get them anytime we go whether we are buying fireworks or just stopping by. I always get several dozen and give them away to my pyro team members.

Jul. 16th, 2009 12:42 am (UTC)
Yeah, they're all illegal here too. But when Larry lives across the street from Tom Cruise, well, the police don't care. If they did, they might have to do something about the crazy scientology stuff too, right? LOL

And you probably won't burn down your woods. Remove some overhanging limbs sure, but even during a drought, we didn't get a single slash pine to ignite. There are a few trees that still have parachutes tangled up in them. You'd be surprised how long those suckers last up there.
Jul. 16th, 2009 02:24 am (UTC)
Oh I know. Every year we set up the shows we dig up debris from the last year. Trouble with my woods is it's 60 acres of old growth hardwoods and lots and lots of fuel tinder in he understory. I used to fight forest fires so I know a potential fire hazard when I see one. It's the reason we don't burn our ditches in the Spring like everyone else does.

Jul. 16th, 2009 01:00 pm (UTC)
You need a big bonfire pit. Larry does that. Has the local friends come over and cleans up before the party. Takes out the dead trees, rakes up pine needles and stuff.

And the stacked wood is an excellent place to take cover when things...happen.

Besides, if you don't have a big bonfire pit, where do your guests burn their xmas trees for New Years? Huh? Huh?
And don't forget, extra points for most explosive tree!
Jul. 16th, 2009 04:08 pm (UTC)
We don't burn our trees. We dump them in our ponds for fish cover. I do have a bonfire pit. But 60 acres of old growth forest is a little more than even all my friends could hope to clean up in a weekend. Even in a year. Plus it connects to the property of 5 other farmers so a total of several hundred acres. A little more liability than I want to take on.

Jul. 16th, 2009 09:55 pm (UTC)
How do you control your inner pyro? I plant big grassy plants just so I can burn them in the spring.
Jul. 16th, 2009 11:29 pm (UTC)
Big trees get blown down by the winds every year and we cut and burn those in the spring. Plus I have 6-12 professional fireworks shows a year and that helps. And if I want to blow something up, I've got 100 aces to do it in. I like shooting shotguns at computer monitors. They blow up real good.

Jul. 17th, 2009 02:39 am (UTC)
Well don't attempt burning an xmas tree because it's like chips, you can't stop with just one. And hanging fireworks in the branches for extra fun. And soaking them in things to make better colors.

Jul. 15th, 2009 06:21 pm (UTC)
I have a recipe for a gingerbread Guinness cake that you can eat.

Your photos look at home in the competition. Great stuff!
Jul. 15th, 2009 07:06 pm (UTC)
Oh! may i have that?
Jul. 16th, 2009 01:11 pm (UTC)
Check my reply to Wander.
Jul. 15th, 2009 07:16 pm (UTC)
Thanks sweetie. I would like that recipe.

Jul. 16th, 2009 01:10 pm (UTC)
Jul. 18th, 2009 06:18 pm (UTC)
I'm TOTALLY baking that up. I LOVE gingerbread! And I love Guinness.
Jul. 15th, 2009 07:07 pm (UTC)

thanks again. we had a great weekend!
Jul. 15th, 2009 07:14 pm (UTC)
Enjoyed having you. Wish we could have had more time to talk.

Jul. 15th, 2009 07:31 pm (UTC)
Starting with the meat and ending with the party sign pix, it sounds like a pretty awesome weekend. Glad you took Evin along, it's always fun to get whole bunches of fireworks! Even working on the tractor/getting a new belt sounds like a nice way to wind down.
Jul. 15th, 2009 07:33 pm (UTC)
Doing things with Johnie is always so relaxing. He realizes I could do it on my own but also knows how nice it is to have a little help.

Jul. 16th, 2009 07:29 am (UTC)
It's ALWAYS nice to have a little help - I think he LIKES to work on that stuff, in the context of helping. And that IS very relaxing - no pressure, no weird mutual obligation BS, just work.
Jul. 16th, 2009 04:55 am (UTC)
Sounds like a great time. Glad everything went smoothly. Sorry I missed it.
Jul. 16th, 2009 05:00 am (UTC)
There is always next year.

( 26 comments — Leave a comment )