On this blog, I’ve mentioned a time or two that I paint. But it’s purely for my own enjoyment (and the occasional gift-giving to family and friends). I make no claim to being a professional artist. Let’s be honest: trying to make it in the arts can be a heartbreaking business. Attempting to carve out a writing career is artistic excitement enough for me.
So I imagine how honored I felt when one of my dear friends in the Embassy community invited me to participate as an artist in the gala she was throwing to raise funds for one of Suriname’s international schools and a cause it supports: a local home for underprivileged children. Internally, I balked a little at being labelled one of “seven of local artists” (I’m not an artist! I just happen to have a few tubes of paint lying around my house!). But the idea of getting to showcase a few pieces was pretty exhilarating stuff.
In the lead-up to the event, my friend put up with a veritable barrage of questions from me: was the venue indoors and air-conditioned (i.e., safe from the monsoon-type rains currently contributing to Suriname’s rainy season)? How were the other artists pricing their pieces? How should I plan to install my work? Hammer and nail? A table display? Did I need to come prepared with change for purchasers? Who should they pay: her or me? Should I give them their art right away, or hold onto it until they’d paid up later that week?
By the time I was done interrogating her, I’m sure she wanted to beat me to death with my own palette. But she bore it all with patience. And the night of the event was phenomenal (of course it was–my friend is a no-nonsense woman with excellent taste): great music, an array of artists and artisans with broadly varying styles, the excitement of a live auction (led by another Embassy employee/friend), tasty appetizers, plenty of red wine, and an intimate venue. (The venue, De Hal, was typically Surinamese: a tidy exhibition space inside, it was initially easy to overlook. To reach the semi-ramshackle building, we had to walk up a long, thinly-paved path across a dirt-and-grass patched lawn. This led to a covered outdoor space that our friend had bedecked with lovely floral arrangements–our first confirmation that this was not an abandoned warehouse, but indeed where the gala was taking place. We only needed to slide aside a panel of corrugated metal and wha-la! a lovely gallery space!)
By the end of the evening, I’d sold some art (three out of four pieces! Huzzah!) and even wound up making an expensive (eek!) art purchase with my husband for our own home. But these things were but cherries on top of an elegant evening–spending it in the company of our fellow expat friends was what made it phenomenal.
All in all, it made for a pretty fabulous Saturday night.
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