Like many people who live in rural areas or on the outskirts of small villages I am an introvert, who on demand can pretend to be in an extrovert for short periods of time. I have had to do so to be in art fairs and give lessons at my studio. Tourist season stretches my performance ability because they seem to travel in packs or even herds.
I first noticed this tendency when I was still teaching skiing. Frequently a class of ten would all be from the same group or family. And it wasn't just in class but on the slopes. They moved like a herd down the ski hill. I liked the first run of the day when there was only me and maybe one or two others on a hill. My family camped to get away from it all - and that included people. We didn't attend Parrot Head conventions at campground tent cities with generators.
Being a photographer fits me. I and my camera and my dogs out in a lonely place. Painting probably suits me even more because I can stay in my studio and zone out. Opening my studio to the public three days a week was a leap for me. But the majority of the year the open sign is just a formality.
Yesterday I received a call about how many people my studio could accommodate. Let me mention I am claustrophobic. I want to run when six or eight people drop in. Fortunately there is an outside area with chairs and table. Six chairs. I want to build a deck. But that is August and only 8 x 10. So my answer was a question - "How many in your party?"
"Thirty-five," she said. I wished at that moment I could cite a fire regulation. "But I do not know if everyone will want to come. Say twenty."
I am quickly doing the math of how many SUV's that is. Four or five depending on size of occupants. Parking could be an issue. Especially if it is King Ranch stretch pickups. Do you tell people used to being in herds they should divide up into smaller groups?
"Lessons?" I ask.
"Oh, no. We just want to visit and see your work. We are having a family reunion over the 4th of July. Will you be open?"
Booking a trip to the wilds of Utah is out of the question because of my day job - pet sitting.
"Yes, I will. Studio hours are 1:30 to 4:30 or by appointment."
"Morning of the fourth."
"Do you want to book a time?" At least I could have just them in the studio.
"If we call you that morning can you call us back within the hour?"
She had called and left a message. I was in Taos picking up groceries. I certainly had not returned that call within the hour. Maybe three. Honestly four. But how likely was I to go out shopping on the morning of the 4th of July? But pet rounds can take an hour or two especially if I have my camera with me. And I could be gardening or walking my own pets. I do not give out my cell number any more. Elliot cured me of that.
"Probably." She wasn't happy with that answer but I had sympathy because I have herded cats before and I can imagine the morning at a rented condo with 35 people. It's July I assure myself. And with luck I might not live through June.
She asked for directions and I gave them. Beginning with the fact my studio was five miles south of Angel Fire. Her silence told me she had not considered it might be beyond walking distance.
We really need the Art Activities Center in the middle of Angel Fire with the ample parking. Of the 18 studios and galleries on the Artistic Vistas and Treasures Art tour there are maybe only four that could handle five SUV's in the parking lot or 35 people in the studio/gallery itself. I promise myself to work harder on the campaign for funding.