Last year we rode our bikes to the main art fair, held in Clayton. We walked past block after block of garish or gripping, metal, canvas, paint, wood, and cloth art. We did not buy the three dollar water sold by non-profits. We did buy a large wooden bowl that had signs of an old beetle conflict, channels kept separate, stained by fungi. How many others knew the social story behind those marks?
This year we went to the brewery on Manchester and the tiny other art fair, Art Outside, for St. Louisans not participating in the big time event. We would boycott the name, Schlafly for that crazy Phyllis who pretty much single-handedly defeated the Equal Rights for Women Constitutional Amendment. But we don’t. It is the same family, not the same people. We no longer wondered that we knew no one. We are used to it now.
The best art was a pendant of a couple dozen cells of a wasp nest, most with tiny gleaming eggs in them. It was even labeled Polistinae. The young artist was entranced that we returned to look at it. But $840? Do you know how many tomatoes I could buy for that? I could even buy another pressure canner and have money for all the jars and fruit I cared to can. Yet, if we don’t buy it, who would? Someone who had no idea what Polistinae meant, no doubt. We didn’t tell her she could have simply put Polistes.
We got beer and bratwurst with sauerkraut, of course. But we split each. There were soft things for kids. There were old boxes with faces peering out of them. There was music. We walked through downtown Maplewood to get there.
Next year we’ll brave the crowds in Clayton, much as we liked this quirky alternative.