a secret message from a street vendor

I had become very involved in Washington DC’s art scene. In addition to my work teaching classes and running the social media for GRACE (Greater Reston Art Center) in the DC suburb of Reston, I began to advise and consult individual artists on promoting their work through networking and social media. Still, I was a newbie to the commercial art scene and, through enlightening conversations via networking and self-guided research, I became acquainted with the culture and importance of the “Art Fair” circuit.

A well-founded, established, professional art fair is not the same thing as an “art festival.” The two terms are commonly confused by those unfamiliar with the art world and the market that fuels it. At an Art Fair,  you will not stroll down the familiar streets in your local downtown browsing through rows of tented booths staffed with professional and amateur artists. The artwork displayed won’t be safe and tasteful acrylic pr watercolor paintings, quirky and colorful metal yard art, artisan hand-blown glass, or handcrafted art jewelry. 

While that experience can indeed be enjoyable, that event and the featured art is more appropriately referred to as an “art festival.”  Far more common and relatable to the masses, most people are familiar with art festivals and have attended one or two.

An Art Fair is an entirely different operation. Better described as a commercial exhibition or trade fair, art fairs are huge and international, showcasing the best galleries and their collections from all over the world. Unlike art festivals that tend to be free, attendees usually pay a fee to access this gathering of cutting edge contemporary art. The attendees sport the movers and shakers in the art world to include high profile collectors, dealers, gallerists, and curators. Most art fairs are colossal and incomprehensible events flaunting the hottest, cutting edge art and require patience and stamina to get through.

So after discovering this integral component of the international art market, I set out to attend one of the most famous and influential, Miami’s Art Basel. Striking out on my own for the ultimate art adventure, I was unsure what to expect. I secured VIP opening party passes through my DC art connections, booked a flight and hotel and was on my way.

Full-blown psychosis had yet to take over my life during this time, but I was beginning to experience small episodes of paranoia. I was also beginning to recognize little anomalies and nuances buried in daily living that struck me as a message or carried a deeper meaning.

I wasn’t prepared for what I would encounter at Art Basel Miami. It was one of the first encounters with strong, pervasive, paranoid psychosis. It would stay present and endure the entire week. Finally, it would return home with me, settling in for a six-year occupation in my life.

At Art Basel Miami, I first noticed that every convention center I visited, every row of galleries I would stroll down, I was being followed by people wielding cameras. Many people had cameras at the art fair, but these were specifically pointed at me. They would get close and invasive, to the point their rapid-fire shutters were disorienting and distracting.

At the VIP party, there were several people there that also appeared on my social networking mobile apps. My contacts located in DC and the Northern Virginia area, there was no reason that so many of my mobile app contacts would be attending an art fair in Miami. I instinctually realized that these were not real people. They were actors, plants, government agents in disguise.

Finally, exhausted from the attention and constant sound of the camera shutters, I left the art fair to get some fresh air and walk the downtown street of Miami. My stroll led me to an old man selling grasshoppers folded out of grass. I took a moment and sat down beside him and started asking questions and making conversation about Miami and his small street-side business. 

In the middle of our conversation, he stopped and looked at me, took my hand and placed one of his grasshoppers in it. He said, “You must have patience, young grasshopper.” He insisted that I take the grasshopper without paying for it.


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In the middle of our conversation, he stopped and looked at me, took my hand and placed one of his grasshoppers in it. He said, “You must have patience, young grasshopper.” He insisted that I take the grasshopper without paying for it.

I recognized the young grasshopper phrase from Kung Fu, a show on television I watched when I was a child. I don’t know what prompted him to address me in such away. But my internal response was quick and powerful, this man was a government secret agent and he was delivering a message to me.

In those moments, as psychosis gained in strength and influence, I couldn’t deny the meaning of the message. I was bred by the government to promote art, science, and technology. My time had come to accept my official role and I had much to learn and master. I was the “young grasshopper” and I would need patience as I moved through the process of becoming a government secret agent.

I thanked the old man and headed back to my hotel room, grasshopper in hand.

4 comments

  1. Hey, Girl–

    Please slow down a bit!

    Every day is too much to consume.

    I suggest once a week, max. Space them out more, please.

    Don Karp about.me/donkarp

    donkarp.com

    On Sun, Oct 27, 2019 at 8:06 PM breathing with a noose wrote:

    > NooseGirl posted: ” I had become very involved in Washington DC’s art > scene. In addition to my work teaching classes and running the social media > for GRACE (Greater Reston Art Center) in the DC suburb of Reston, I began > to advise and consult individual artists on promoting ” >

    Like

      • Thanks for the vote of confidence in my choice of the frequency of my posting. But my goal is to get the story out in easily digestible, meaningful, bite-sized pieces worthy of the reader’s investment. I don’t want to overwhelm with information. I’m here as part of my recovery and to help eradicate the horrible stigma associated with mental illness . . .especially psychosis.
        I don’t mind constructive criticism, especially if it’s coming from the right place. Slowing down a bit is no big deal.

        Like

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