The plane rolled up to the jet bridge and I nervously gathered up my carry-ons. I had just arrived in Kansas City, MO and to be quite honest, I didn’t know what to expect. The butterflies in my stomach began fluttering just thinking about the fact that I had a photo gallery showing in 3 days at one of the biggest art nights in Kansas City – First Friday. People come into town from surrounding areas just to experience it.
I swear I feel like I have the best of luck with meeting the most amazing people in the most random of places. I fell in love with Omaha when I got to meet the quirky and very punk rock painter Kim Reid Kuhn, and she lovingly showed me the side of the city that only locals are keen to. And somehow, in the vast social sphere of Facebook, I got to know the owner of the Locust, the amazing local artist, Apryl McAnerney. The twist of art with a major blast of Americana made me delighted to experience this part of the country. As I noticed the small, flat, brick warehouses, peppered with colorful art and graffiti, I realized the two cities to have quite a bit in common.
But I was welcomed to Kansas City, Missouri with open arms and multiple pitchers of delicious, cold beer – the best way to get to know a place.
The Locust Factory (R.I.P.), was situated in the well known and loved Crossroads Art District just outside downtown Kansas City – and across from Grinder’s/The Crossroads music venue. I couldn’t have asked for a better location for my first showing – and I will never take that for granted.
I was to show a piece of work that I had created in 2009/2010 that chronicled every day of a year – also known as the 365 Days Project. I had recently acquired my Nikon D80 and I figured this would be the best way to go about intimately getting to know the settings and capabilities of my camera – as well as forcing myself to be creative for a few moments every day, and becoming more aware and comfortable with seeing my body and self. One of the most special parts of this project is that you get to see Over Yonderlust in its infancy. I go through the motions of creating a website, becoming increasingly depressed at my job, and planning for our soon-to-be year trip through Latin America.
Here were some fan favorites:
The next few days were a blur between working my job at WooThemes and setting up in my section of the gallery. What I didn’t realize is that, not only is showcasing 365 pictures an incredibly ambitious endeavor for one person, but that I had unknowingly created a vision for what this would look like – without even realizing it.
About 10 hours later and multiple redos, I sat back and sighed at my accomplishment. I still couldn’t believe I had the opportunity to be here.
…and then the panic started setting in. Nothing in the world I had ever experienced made me feel more naked, and more vulnerable, than showing my work to an unknown group of gallery revelers.
But nightfall set in, The Crossroads was blaring with amazing bluegrass/country, and people started pouring into the gallery. What started as a couple of people milling around my pictures, turned into a packed house, people shoulder-to-shoulder moving through the crisscrossed, jumbled, ADD setup of the pictures known as my brain. I couldn’t believe it – and I was beaming.
But the best part of the night is when one of the patrons recognized me in the sea of people (not that I’m difficult to spot due to crazy hair and tattoos) and came rushing over, a huge smile across his face.
“This is yours, right?”, pointing to the wall.
“Thank you. Thank you for allowing us into a year of your life – into the nitty gritty. Thank you for being vulnerable. This is one of the best showings I’ve seen at First Friday in a long time.”
And we hugged.
I sat in shock for a long time. If I had any doubt, it had completely evaporated. It was worth it, even if just for that one person and that one compliment. And for the first time, my entire piece of work had been validated – all because one stranger took a moment and opened up to me.
A gazillion beers were consumed that night and as I hung out with a fresh pot of coffee and a revitalized heart the next morning – I couldn’t have been happier. I knew, deep down inside, that selling everything and packing up to leave and explore the world would bring a new chapter to my life. But honestly, I *never* imagined this. I am unabashedly chasing what brings me joy and pleasure – even if it changes over time – and just knowing that I’m doing that allows me to live with no regrets.
A huge thanks to Apryl McAnerney for allowing me to shine bright and crash in her amazing creaky house filled with amazing energy.
Another thanks to my massive support group for helping me achieve this dream. The outpouring of support kept me burning the midnight oil to make this happen.
And the biggest thanks to my husband who is always my cheerleader. I couldn’t do it without you.