Thursday, April 05, 2012

The Last Trade

This past week I was away from my studio,
both teaching and vending at Artfest. The
experience, as always, was glorious but also
very bittersweet and fraught with lots of
emotion because it was the end of an era.

Artfest holds such an incredibly dear place
in my heart, so much so that I can not
adequately express the depth of my feelings
in mere words.

Artfest was the first ever art retreat I attended.
In 2000, I was in my early 30s and had turned
my life upside down, bravely stepping out of the
expected career path I was to lead as a computer
programmer and returning to college to pursue
my passion in art.

When I read about the retreat in a magazine, I
was a sophomore art student, happy to be living
my dream, but desperate to spread my wings
and "CREATE" outside the confines of homework
assignments and academia.

I begged my husband to take me to Seattle, so I
could attend. Not wanting to tell me "no" but also
not wanting to go, he suggested I ask his mom to
accompany me. Luckily, she was not hard to convince
and readily agreed!

It seemed like forever from the time we sent in our
registration in August 1999, until the day we arrived
in April 2000.

From the moment I arrived in Seattle, I was in LOVE!...
with the mountains, the water, the downtown Public
Market, the tulips, the size of the fruits and vegetables,
the ferry, the giantic pine trees... And as we drove from
downtown Seattle across the Olympic Peninsula to our
final destination, Fort Worden, my love grew. The Fort
was an old military base, now used as a state park,
nestled in the picture postcard village of Port Townsend.

Now, not everything on our adventure was love at first
sight. Neither mom-in-law or I were prepared for the
rustic condition of the Fort, such as the single dim light
bulb hanging from the ceiling in our room, the locker
room showers and toilets, the asbestos window curtains,
wire bed springs with a thin mattress, one thin blanket, a
flat pillow, and the only phone on campus was a pay phone
outside the entrance to the dorm building (no one had
a personal cell phone back in those days).

Waking up that first morning our backs ached, we were
freezing from the drafty cold, it was raining, hard, and
breakfast was definitely not gourmet. But all of these
challenges quickly melted away the minute we stepped
in the doorway of our first workshop. That artful BLISS
we had hoped to find, had come!

Over the next three days, we made friends, belly laughed,
gave each other little gifts (called Trades), shared
stories and art supplies, were silly, and made art. At the
end, we cried when we had to leave and vowed to come
back! And we did come back, 11 out of the 12 years.

Teesha and Tracy Moore (our fearless leaders) changed my

Not only did they introduce me to an art retreat, they gave
me my first opportunity to sell my art, and my first opportunity
to teach. All of these chances I accepted with utter joy and
thankfulness, helping to build my confidence, inspiring me
to discover my own unique artistic voice, and work hard to
turn each success into more successes.

(Above is Teesha holding the gift, mom-in-law and I, made
for her. It is a T-Shirt Quilt with all the Artfest Logos)

The last Artfest was in many ways like the first. Friends, far
and wide, came to share, laugh, be silly, make art and be
together in this moment. Even Cookie Monster attended... LOL!

And the Last Trade, shown at the top was a gift from an
individual I never had the chance to meet. (

Stephanie kindly placed her treasures out in a
common area for others to take. Although I may
never meet Stephanie, I am so grateful for this
memento to hold and keep... as another wonderful
reminder of this INCREDIBLE experience/
adventure and my eternal love for Artfest!


Unknown said...

I attended many of the early Artfests and will also have a warm spot in my heart for the amazing retreat that Teesha and Tracy so generously created for us. Your quilt is just fabulous...on behalf of everyone who couldn't be there this year, thank you for expressing our gratitude in such a personal and heartfelt way.

Cindy Pestka

Lori S-C said...

lovely, in every conceivable way....

nina said...