I had almost forgotten about the fact that our Paint Eastport Day auction is really a part of Salmon Days. When I went down to the gallery yesterday to regeister for the auction, I was surprised to see that the place had returned to its Fourth of July festiveness and the streets were full of people. Cars lined the road almost all the way back to the bottom of my street. The sight made me temporarily grumpy, but the reaction was ridiculous since it was all part of the week-end I had been preparing for and thinking about for some time. My narrow focus on my own part in the celebration was so fierce that it became an end in itself and I lost sight of the reason I was doing it all. I recovered myself and proceeded to my secret spot near downtown where I can always find a place to leave the car. I unpacked my painting paraphenalia and walked to the gallery, signed in, and trudged down to the warf behind overlook park where Lisa and I had agreed to meet. It was close to noon, and Lisa was already at work, her first painting almost finished. I set up , facing the opposite direction, and started my painting.
The day was foggy, with a light mist. The temperature must have been in the fifties and a cold wind blew off the water. I was dressed too lightly for the weather and became very cold as the day wore on. Nevertheless I forged ahead and completed my 8x10 canvas by around 2:30. I painted the view looking toward the Waco......Eastport's signature pink granite and the backs of the buildings on Water Street. It was a boring painting, so I painted the sky yellow. On the way back to the car I decided to partake of the festivities by buying a hot dog from one of the kiosks set up on the street. By the time I got to the window I was starved, so I ordered two. It must have taken at least fifteen minutes for the hot dogs to appear, and when they did I was disappointed that they were not nearly as good as I wanted them to be. My standard is set by Rosie's, the local hot dog stand that operates all summer at the head of the breakwater. Those are steamed, and the damp rolls almost disintegrate in your hand. The slippery fried onions on them slither along the hot dog in a greasy tangle. They are delicious. I ate the inferior grilled hot dogs sullenly and headed for the art center.
Paint Eastport Day culminates in an auction of the paintings that participants have completed that day, preferably on the street where people can watch them at work. Anybody can participate whether they belong to the gallery or not. It is supposed to give people a chance to get paintings at a bargain price while benefitting the gallery. All paintings are brought to the art center at the end of the afternoon, we(the inevitable committee members) hang them on the wall with bid slips beside them, set up our usual spread of food and wine, and then let in the hoards. The viewing and bidding lasts for an hour. Within minutes of opening the door, the place is full of people. It's amazing what a crowd keeps coming year after year. The mood is light and festive despite the weather. It's a social occasion to rival the biggest party, as well as a fund-raiser. Seeing all our planning and work come to fruition is, as always, a reward that keeps us doing it over and over again. Wonderful Eastport.
When the hour is over, we have sold over five-thousand dollars worth of art. People have cheered the high bidders good-humoredly, collected their prizes, stood in line to pay, and run out into the evening. Sometime while we were inside it finally began to rain, and rain with a vengeance. Umbrellas flared as our patrons clutched their paintings under their coats and raced to their cars. Everyone was still talking and laughing as we picked up trash, returned furniture to its proper place, and closed the place down. Congratulations were in order, and we supplied them to one another in a spirit of camaraderie and success.