Now, these female Salem Art Fair'ers happen to be Laurel, my wife, and Rita, a friend from Seattle who visited us this weekend along with her husband, Ron.
So they aren't associated with the bored-looking men in the first photo. But Ron and I were right there at the waiting bench with these guys, wondering along with them: How long can a woman spend in a handmade clothing booth where lots of the stuff is on sale?
Answer, we found: A really, really long time. And not just once. Laurel went to the Salem Art Fair by herself early on Friday to glom onto several on-sale jackets being sold by Brie Kreibel.
Then she returned on Saturday with Ron, Rita, and me to rummage through the "Wearable Art" collection again, earning for herself what must be Brie's highest accolade: "You're my best customer."
There's little doubt that for most of the over 200 booths, that honor went to a woman. Because art fairs are seriously slanted toward female sensibilities. Ron and I kept our eyes open for one, just one, item of men's clothing for sale other than hats and belts.
And the art fair sexism didn't stop there. Over and over we'd see an enthused swarm of women buzzing around a booth with not a single man among them. Ooh, earrings! Jewelry! Baby stuff! Dresses! Flowery objets d'art!
Don't get me wrong. I enjoy art fairs. And they teach me a lot. Like, patience and forbearance, which I practice while my wife studies a seemingly endless number of dichroic glass earrings before telling me, "I've got to think about these; we'll have to come back to this booth later for another look."
After several hours of browsing I'd just about given up hope that I'd find anything up my alley. Then, praise the Fractal God!, I came upon Dennis Brady's blend of art and fractal geometry mathematics. (Could he be David Crosby's twin?)
I was instantly mesmerized. Dennis and I had a great conversation about the meaning of the cosmos. Fractals are a reflection of the "whole universe in a grain of sand" thing.
Dennis pointed to one of Bush Park's majestic oak trees and said that he tried to explain to some visitors how the structure of the entire oak tree is mirrored in each of the large branches. Also, in each of the smaller limbs. And even the leaves. He said the adults didn't get it. Some ten year olds did.
After a lot of picking through his fractal art collection I ended up with two yin and yang'ish 5 X 7s: the hot "Dragon's Lair" from his 2007 collection and the cool "Snowy Ridge" from his 2005 collection.
It was hugely satisfying when Laurel and Rita came into the booth and said, "We'll meet you ahead because you're taking such a long time." Oh, really? Let me tell you what a "long time" in an art fair booth truly is, girls. Though you should know.
Ron also ended up doing OK on the shopping front. He got a glass ball for their garden – not this one, though we all liked it. Today Rita and I took him back to a hat booth to buy a cap that he chickened out on getting yesterday.
It took Rita and me almost twenty-four hours of reassuring Ron about his heterosexual masculinity until he was agreeable to returning for the cap today. Then he wimped out and chose a wool version. It looked fine, but the leather one had that MG driver look to it.
Lastly, I'd be remiss if I didn't share a final photo of Ron getting a five-minute art fair massage. I feel like there's some perfect caption that should go along with this image.
Can't quite come up with it, but feel free to supply one on your own. Oh! Just thought of one…
This guy doesn't look anything at all like Glenn of the Village People (so far as we can tell).