The artists at Armadillo Christmas Bazaar smile and converse with visitors and shoppers for eleven hours straight, nine days in a row. They talk about their craft, answering the same questions over and over to inquisitive viewers. They alternate between busy spurts of crowds and boredom. Many of them camp nearby because it’s not worth it to get a room in town. They practically live at the Palmer Events Center for the nine days before Christmas. Even for traveling artists and craftspeople used to this work environment, The ‘Dillo is a tough gig.
So after every shopper has gone home at 11:00 pm on Christmas Eve, after the unsold art is packed away and the booth torn down, what do artists do? We asked a few…
In one booth, bright colors popped off black backgrounds on chairs, plaques, and even skeletons. Mitch and A.me Alamag, a husband and wife artist couple from Las Cruces, NM, call themselves “Rokoko.” How will these artists spend Christmas away from home? They were going to sleep in, then go “watch a bad movie.” Although they have a long drive back to their gallery and home, they plan to spend Christmas Day relaxing in Austin.
The fun thing about going to an event like an art show with a child is discovering what captivates him. My son was enthralled with the photography, particularly the photographs of sunlit rocks by Austin Artist Alexa Walker. He asked her how she takes such great pictures of rock formations and plants, explaining that every time he tries to take a good picture, a car drives by or something interrupts the moment. Alexa smiled and told him the secret to photography is patience. Alexa celebrates Christmas by tearing down her booth in the morning and then relaxing with her mom the rest of the day. Her mother, Dorothy, a former fiber artist, turns 91 this year on Dec. 26th. Last year, they threw a big party, commemorating the big “90,” but this year, they’re taking it easy, “taking care of each other” at home.
NJ Searcy loves birds. The metal artist’s business card shows birds on a wire, one of her artworks in her booth. It reminded me of an unusual flock of birds that reside near where I live, gray and white doves together. You never realize the truth in the phrase “Birds of a feather flock together” until you see a flock that has both gray and white feathers. After we marveled about that for a minute. NJ told me she was going to write that down as soon as I left because she didn’t want to forget our conversation. Day 8 of the Armadillo Bazaar, remember, and she was getting tired. When asked which was her favorite piece, she pointed out the blue spike with the metal and fired glazed pieces all stacked together. “I’m attached to it. Maybe that’s why it hasn’t sold.” Her plans for Christmas Day… driving back to Arizona, naturally, and sketching ideas.
A metal assemblage artist with an impressive mustache, Steven Meadows shared his Christmas plans with me. His mind was on his lost Shitzu “Oreo,” who squeezed through a cat door in Decatur, Georgia. Enlisting the help of several pet psychics, Steven thinks the lost dog is safe in the nearby neighborhood, being taken care of by an older woman who doesn’t know the dog belongs to someone. So although his home and gallery are in Palestine, Illinois, Steven is taking a detour to Decatur to find Oreo. Uniting his home and family were top of mind, I could tell. As I snapped this picture of Steven Meadows, his posse of personalities, many sporting metal comb mustaches, looked over his shoulder.
Nicole Long’s miniature assemblages pull you in with ceramic creatures, glitter and flowers, each one a tiny world inside its own box. They shared space alongside two-dimensional canvases painted on pages of print and cut in intricate shapes, paintings made by her husband Jay Long, the artists who also painted the iconic boy with the accordion for the Armadillo Bazaar’s featured image this year. The artist couple’s Christmas plans include friends who are in town for the festival, and celebrating with their company at home.
The artists not only create the art in their studios, but do the packing, marketing, selling, and traveling, too. As you’d imagine, most artists will be resting and relaxing after their 9-day tour of duty at the Armadillo Christmas Bazaar this year, and dreaming up new creations for the new year.
4. NJ Searcy
6. Jay Long