Last night, I attended the preview of the Minnesota State Fair Fine Arts Exhibition. As soon as I stepped in the door, I purchased an exhibit program, and flipped it randomly open. I glanced, slammed it shut, and then opened it again slowly, to page 24. There was a photograph of my piece, with the words, FIRST PLACE. I was astonished. I wordlessly showed the book to my wonderful husband, who has been referring to himself as my "possee."
I think winning any competition always depends on who else shows up, what they bring with them, and who's judging. I think this is true of sporting events and spelling bees and garden shows and ballroom dancing competitions. So I got lucky this year. But I must say, it feels really nice. And winning a blue ribbon in any of the nine categories in this exhibition comes with a $500 prize. When I read that last night in the program, I was dumbfounded. I was not expecting to win, and I had not bothered to see what the prize was when I entered. I HAD been told that my local beading club, the Upper Midwest Bead Society, was sponsoring a $100 award of their own for the best beaded entry, and when I got to my piece, front and center as you walk straight in the door, it had both the blue ribbon and the chartreuse UMBS ribbon attached!
As a costume designer, I work with my clients to try to reveal their personality and character, feature their bodies in the best possible light, and stay within their budgets. It's a GREAT job, and satisfying, because nearly everyone leaves my studio really happy. But beading for me is self-expression. It's my soul getting a chance to make all the decisions, spend whatever money I can justify to myself, and create with my hands something I find beautiful. It is my art. I am so, SO pleased to be recognized for it, and to share my impression of the beauty of the Minnesota winter landscape with the residents of my state.
This morning I woke up and lay in my bed smiling. My husband, showered, shaved and dressed for work, caught that smile. He smiled back and said to me, "You know that crown the dentist said you needed last week? It's half paid for." Carl is an artist in his own right, and in the earliest stages of our relationship, we drove to a gallery in Ohio together where he won a $3000 prize. As I recall, that prize bought a new truck. Good thing he's a pragmatic guy. I wanted to buy beads.