I just got back from walking my legs off at the St. James Court Art Show, one of the largest and most well-respected art shows in the country.

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I don’t have pictures of the art, of course, because you’re not supposed to take photos of any of it, except with your mind. That’s okay. All the architecture I love was ready and waiting to be photographed.

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Property owners make sure their homes and grounds look nice for the art show attendees. I heard that this year they expected a total of 300,000 people to shuffle past the 750 booths.

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It’s a huge show. I never try to see the whole thing. Okay, maybe I did the first year after I moved here, when I had an apartment smack dab inside the fair’s perimeters. This year I made a pretty good go of it, getting to St. James Court proper, the Belgravia walking court, and up and down Fourth, Third, and Magnolia, including, of course, the parking lot of the Magnolia Bar and Grill, aka the “Mag Bar”. (It’s such an amazing name to begin with, I’ve never understood the allure of the nickname).  A non-juried, avant-garde second show called the “Un-Fair” has been conducted out behind the bar for the past 18 years. Now, I don’t always make it to the St. James Art Fair, but when I do I never miss the Un-Fair. This year, though, it seemed to be overrun with all things zombie, and I am burned out on zombies. It’s time to bring back vampires.

From last weekend’s trip to the Louisville Zoo:

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The only book I saw in the whole show was in the Un-Fair. It was on a table with a bunch of disparate other things. It was a pretty thick trade paperback, $25 with an intriguing title but no subtitle to tell me if it was a novel, a memoir, short stories, or what. I flipped it over but found nothing but a continuation of the front cover art. No blurb, no nothing, and the book was taped closed. (!) A voice behind me said “That’s $25.” I asked if it was a novel or short stories. She said it was short stories and poetry, and then added “It’s mine. I wrote it.” I waited but there wasn’t any further pitch, and the attitude being given off was a sort of aloof boredom, so I put it down and went on. I’m sorry, but I sweat bullets rehearsing and then delivering my pitch to an editor in person. I re-examined the book, re-wrote parts of it, then re-wrote my query, and re-wrote it again. Just two months ago I finally sent it to another editor (for those of you keeping count, yep, that’s two whole editors). The next day I re-wrote the query again. What’s on my plate for today after I post this is to buck up and send it to a few more people, because the novel is never going to get published if I don’t show it to anyone. A taped shut book with no hint as to what’s inside and no clue offered by the writer when I’m standing there, waiting to be won over? That doesn’t work for me.

Contrast today’s experience with the one I had at the Pride Fair in June. Then, I happened upon a tent shared by two small press outfits (94 Creations and Iris Brown Literary Mag). I stopped and flipped through the two books they were selling. The young woman behind the booth was friendly and enthusiastic. She was excited to tell me about their work and mission, and when she learned I am a writer, too, encouraged me to submit work to them. She took my card to pass along to her boss, and I bought both books.

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I didn’t buy any art today, unless you count the money I dropped into the case of a mandolin player. And why wouldn’t you count that, really? I made art for twenty years and almost none of it is extant (public television and one independent company filmed a handful of our productions) except in how it shaped the audience’s appreciation for theatre.

Anyway, art that isn’t mass produced is (and should be) expensive. I can’t afford to buy the things I really liked (they ranged from $40-1,600), but even if I did, I have no place to put anything more. Instead, I collected cards from the people whose work took my breath away or made me giddy, and I’m going to list their websites here. Check them out.

www.joelpinkerton.20.com Creatures full of personality, made from household objects.

www.LisasGlassStudio.com The website has the flower bowls, which were gorgeous, but it lacks the probably 3′ long undulating glass rainbow-hued wall hangings. Those were incredible.

www.melvinmcgee.com “Magic Tea Party” was extremely eye-catching. The website doesn’t do it justice, but choose the magnifying glass and take a good look at the Cheshire Cat and March Hare.

www.artandpoems.com Amazing and horrifying in equal parts, because they’re made from books.

www.artbyalexander.com Inspired by fairy tales.

Lastly, there’s www.jerrymaxey.com. His woodwork and fiber art vases were beautiful but it was actually the sound of his voice that drew me into his booth. It had the same timbre, cadence and accent as Jeff Mann’s voice.