Saturday, February 17, 2018

Best Kind of Business

A few weeks ago I received an e-mail from my college friend Jenny, thinking about taking a ride up this way for he occasion of President's Day weekend, a three day weekend for most working people.  In my case, I don't currently have a regular job on Mondays, so it's an ordinary weekend for me.  Which meant I was available.  I guess for her 3 day weekends are rare and need to be taken advantage of.  She had two main reasons for taking the trip up from Virginia.  Officially she was doing it to claim and pay for the two boardwalk prints she had ordered from me following her visit over a year ago, to see my show at Ocean County College.  Unofficially, a major lure to this area for a lot of my college friends is the chance to eat pizza far above what is available where they live.  There was a threat of snow, but she decided her and her party were feeling "adventurous" and decided to take the trip.  Last night overnight in Hershey, PA, then this morning drive to Ocean Grove.

The show I had last year (which ended up running for 3 months) was several of my prints, including a bunch of my boardwalk prints. She had purchased one the year before that on a previous visit, and seeing the set again, wanted two more.  So this past spring when my schedule was not too full, I pulled copies of the ones she wanted- the tattoo studio and the boardwalk food.  I colored them over a period of time, wrapped them to keep them safe, and took them home.

Besides my art and local pizza, Jenny and her family have a fascination for some of the local towns, particularly Ocean Grove and Asbury Park.  On her first visit a few years ago, she and the family took a wrong turn approaching and ended up in Asbury, up near the old Casino and Carousel House.  They were very impressed with the derelict but still interesting buildings.  When she came for last year's visit, the day before the opening we spent time walking the Asbury boardwalk, from those buildings to Convention Hall and back.  In e-mails of the past few days, she mentioned a desire to walk from the Studio up to the beach and boardwalk, and to see Ocean Grove's Tent City, just empty platforms this time of year.  When I heard from her last night, she said they had made it to Hershey, and would call in the morning as they got closer.

And that's what happened.  I got up to my Studio early in the noon hour, just ahead of them (husband and mother also on the trip).  First I unrolled, signed and stamped the two boardwalk prints.  She gave me a check.  But then I threw in a bonus.  Looking for something else last year, I found I still had two copies of my international For Love Not Money postcard.  This was a big collaborative project from several years ago- printmakers used prints to create a postcard of a specific size for international mail, send it by mail to a randomly chosen collaborator, who also mails the first artist a card they started.  Both artists then add more printed elements to the received cards, which were then sent to the regional coordinator, who got them to the overall organizer who sent them to Tallinn, in Estonia, to be part of their print Triennial.  Since I was in the midst of my boardwalk series, I decided to make that the subject, and ended up making an image based on the Asbury carousel house.  My print simplifies the building, takes out the casino, and adds a very boardwalk style pier and ferris wheel.  She was very happy to get one now.

With that business done, I gave everyone a tour of the Studio building, in better condition than the carousel house, but also a very old, unique bit of architecture.  This past year we've had a record setting winter (cold) affecting both our states, but it had been milder this week, and should be next week.  But for one day today, back close to freezing.  Still, the snow would hold off for a while, and so we took our walk.  Walked up Main, took a lateral side trip to the Great Auditorium and the Tent City, and up toward the beach.   The town of Ocean Grove is still pretty much owned by the Methodist church (you can own your house, but you still pay rent on the land) and the tent city is a result of the camp meeting movement.  Each comes with a raised platform and an attached shed, which includes a bathroom and kitchen, and in winter the tents are stored there.  As we get close to summer, the tents will go up on the platforms.  For the privilege of living in one of these for the summer, you pay several thousand, have a lot of restriction, and there's a 10 year waiting list.  Jenny found the story fascinating, and wanted to see them again, so we did.  All in all, a substantial walk.

So now it was a little past two, and time for pizza.  On her last trip, with two days available, she tried two different pizzas.  She liked one place a little better than the other, but chose the lesser place this time.  Both have eggplant as an optional topping, but she preferred the eggplant at Vic's so that's where we went.  Our timing was perfect- a big party was just departing, so there was sufficient parking and plenty of empty tables.  Nice rolls on the table, we all got beers, shared a nice salad, split a couple of large pizzas (the one with pepperoni also had eggplant), a nice relaxing meal.  Since the rest were going back to their hotel tonight, I was bequeathed the few leftover slices.

On the way home from there, it was decided to stop at a bakery (one of the place we stopped at on last year's trip), not that any of us were capable of more eating at that point.  And I guided them on a driving tour of Asbury's boardwalk while we still had some daylight left.  But it seemed a good idea to end things and get to shelter before the expected storm, so they dropped me off back at the Studio building, where I picked up something from my space, got my car, and drove home, all while it was still dry.  


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