The Independent Artist Podcast

Weird In Their Own Way/ Duke Klassen

December 05, 2022 Douglas Sigwarth/ Will Armstrong/ Duke Klassen Season 2 Episode 23
The Independent Artist Podcast
Weird In Their Own Way/ Duke Klassen
Show Notes Transcript

Working Artists! You are not Alone! Duke Klassen is the original independent artist. The art fair industry was built on the backs of artists like him and his wife LaDes. Being independent allowed him to craft a multi-faceted life that involved travel, friendships, family, and adventure. In this conversation, Duke shares stories from his 80 years on the planet that will resonate with anyone who sets a course to pursue their passions.

Visual artists Douglas Sigwarth and Will Armstrong co-host and discuss topics affecting working artists. Each episode is a deep dive into a conversation with a guest artist who shares their unique experiences as a professional independent artist.  This week's preamble topics include finding an unexpected podcast studio on the road, a breakdown of the One of a Kind Show,  and getting back to normal after physical struggles.

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[Music] foreign
welcome to the independent artist podcast sponsored by the National Association of Independent Artists also
sponsored by zapplication I'm will Armstrong and I'm a mixed media artist I'm Douglas sigworth class blower join
our conversations with professional working artists all right welcome to the podcast
everyone we have kind of a unique situation this week we have will on the road in Chicago patching him in so
thanks for doing that well thanks for being with us well good morning Douglas you may not be able to see my pretty
face here I'm actually signed into the Moxie Hotel downtown Chicago I I
literally was going down to get my truck yeah and get my my laptop connections and and get all set up and have a little
makeshift podcast studio in my hotel room yeah and I'm walking through the lobby and I [ __ ] you not there is a
podcast studio in the lobby of my hotel like that is hilarious I mean these podcasts are such a common thing now
when I tell people like especially my kids and there's gen Z friends that I
have a podcast they're like of course you do they're like you're you're like officially an internet meme and I
honestly have no idea what that even means do you know what that means I know what that means they're not flattering you Douglas
they're mocking you so yeah I'm down here and I mean it's funny I'm in a little uh room in the center of the
hotel lobby uh glass on all three sides and a couple of chairs I could have a
guest I've got a better microphone in here than I do in my home studio yeah I mean the whole thing uh it sounds pretty
great to me other than the fact that I've been running my mouth for the past four days straight here in Chicago yeah
you sound like it might be a Mac Truck Monday like you uh you use that phrase often enough I do I feel like chewed
food I've used that as well and I'm I'm uh I'm socialed out uh yeah I can't you
know but the listeners appreciate you uh you know checking in here because you know they got to hear your voice every
couple weeks well it's important you know speaking of listeners we've got a loyal listener and I gotta I give a
shout out to long time listener and art world's little buddy us
our world um mascot almost he's just he's right there in all the meetings and uh out there thriving and picked up a
reproduction for me over the weekend I thought that was sweet so thank you awesome uh nice to meet him face to face
well back in my One of a Kind days I remember that one week often felt like I had moved in for the month and when the
show is over you literally feel like you've you've done a month-long show it you you definitely set up a store at
that show you know you set up your your gallery and and you're there um it's kind of funny the way that I had
it set up you could see my booth my buddy Greg turco's booth and then Michael schwegman's Booth all three
right there and we had ourselves like right there at their little cafe and music area we had her on the table and
like a little office like we just sat there all weekend with with my boys there so that was uh so you weren't
trapped in your little cubby you could babysit the booth from a little bit from a far so people didn't feel you hovering
yeah across the hallway I always like to give people a little bit of space you know a little bit of space to move around I had a big 15 by 10 booth there
so it was fantastic jeez I was so excited to see her display and your work and the red walls everything about it
just you took it up another notch man I mean it was just fantastic it was uh interesting to me the uh
how they you know they offered wallpaper um for the wall wallpaper I've never
heard that one before well it was funny it was like it was literally like I I kind of expected and I called ahead and
I'm like look is it gonna be like a big vinyl sticker you know I don't yeah any walls you know you were artists we have
a certain aesthetic and I'm like I don't want it to be shiny I kind of imagined it would be like a vinyl installation
wallpaper kind of thing that they could take on and off okay so I got there and it was um I mean you can log on to the
uh the independent artist podcast Facebook page if you want to see the pictures you were kind enough to post
those but sure what I found interesting was like I got there and I'm like I I spent 300 these people rolled out a
literal paper like it's paper on those although they don't paint them so it's paper that okay gotcha nine foot tall
paper roll that they rolled out and then sliced with a razor and cut right and stapled up and it looks like paint uh
I'll save my money I was talking to to Turco over the weekend I'm like you want to share a roll of paper and pick a
color and kind of do because we have this whole spot we have like a little island where I'm right next to him and uh the benefit of um if you've seen his
photography like our collectors are the same a lot of if I'm collecting Turco
then you're going to be interested in what I have as well Like It just fits and it goes together really well yeah
it's he's not my competition he's my um enhancement yeah right great word for
sure I mean it's just it's it's like if we we definitely we had a couple of big guys uh over the weekend at somebody
that had several of his pieces bought a couple more then immediately just went over next door I mean he's you know I'm
bringing people over to him he's bringing people over to me it's it definitely goes hand in hand with that it's the classic yes and we talk about
that on the podcast that yes we like to add two so we've got to have uh someone next to you that you're friends with but
then they can add to the collectors you know collections then that's awesome it
goes hand in hand with that thing he posted uh the other day about you know us not being each other others competitors we are sure it's not you
know we're not trying to win um we're trying to you know all boats
rise as one there you go all right so I mean I've been all over Chicago and stuck in the merchandise mart and
everything but uh what have you been up to I love being able to like keep tabs on everyone and see what everyone's up
to because I am I'm trapped but my spirits are doing really good I've turned this corner of recovery where at
first it was after surgery was barely able to lift my head up and my leg would
swell into a freaking balloon or something worst part honestly yeah but now I'm able to get up and about and
last week we kind of had our first first kind of outing we were trying to get ready to see if I was going to be
able to attend my nephew's wedding which was this past weekend which was beautiful his wedding reception shout
out to to the happy couple Corey and Sammy love you guys but uh earlier in the week my niece his sister is not
listening to the show yes it might be they got better all right all right all right but anyway
so we went uh we did a kind of a trial run and get see if what this was going to be like for me to navigate out in the
real world again down to her place because she's a hairdresser so she she cut my wife's hair obviously don't need
my hair cut um those of you who know me
she took care of the eyebrows so everyone will be happy to know that my eyebrows weren't out of control for this
event but uh so it get me all all into the house and like use the jaws of life
getting me out of the car and and through a garage and into the house and onto the onto the couch and she's got
this amazing puppy it's a golden retriever puppy who's a year old and so
it's a full-sized big dog but with puppy energy and this dog doesn't know that it
has to be careful around my leg that I've got what the surgery came in at
like 65 000 you know what I mean worth of worth of work done on this ankle of
mine and it decides it's going to start using my cast as a chew toy
bad happened it was just like you know getting myself back into the real world again and and not being so careful and
delicate everything so yeah yeah I'd see I I definitely felt the same way when I got out there and felt like I needed to
wrap myself in bubble wrap before I I left the house but you had to go down it was it good it made me feel like I can
do this I can actually like get out and about I can go to stores we went out to a restaurant so I'm not so housebound
anymore which has done wonders for my mood and and for getting ready for you know kind of this next stage of things
nice went to a restaurant like a like a like a big kid like a big kid in fact it you know you you got me so interested in
going to the Olive Garden after your story last time about being a bartender at the Olive Garden so shut up okay
you've made it out of the house after how many weeks and you win more convenience than anything it was one of
those we were out doing an errand and we were hungry and there was happened to be an Olive Garden right there as there is
in any strip mall USA so we're like let's grab some pasta so that's what we did did they sing the hospitaliano song
for you no idea what that even means
all right all right congratulations on making it out and making it as far as your local strip
mall and the wedding yeah so yeah things are going good around here and I just appreciate everyone and everyone's uh
checking in on me so thanks thanks for that and I think it's gonna be okay I think all that worrying that I did all
year it's all gonna be okay worrying is just praying for things that you don't want to happen that's true it's up well
we're gonna get into the whole manifesting your fear type thing it's true worrying all that does is just it
brings that [ __ ] right to front and center so you know back that [ __ ] up so uh yeah long weekend
um you know I've been doing the show it's probably the longest running show that I've ever done it's it's carried me
through you know one of a kind has carried me through um a previous body of work into this I I
think I've done this every year that one of a kind has been going except for the year my like second year I think we gave
it a break to let it grow a little bit more and uh starting year three all the way through except for the year my first
daughter was born did not go that year but besides that I've I've been to one of a kind for God since 2002 I feel like
I feel like I should win an award well think of the nostals like you were talking last week we have this romance
this Nostalgia around some of these events and I'm I'm just really glad it's still it's still strong for you and it's
it's pulling out what you what you need you don't want from it so that's awesome what's interesting about it last year I
did the show and I was like you know I I was kind of a little disgruntled because the say I had a fine weekend but the
sales that I made were all to clients off of my mailing list they were clients that I brought in and I I judge shows a
lot of times by am I doing the work or are they doing the work gotcha there has
to be a balance of new stuff coming in and not just the repeat yeah I gotta have new clients that they're bringing
in and and not just the ones that I've I've brought to the table and clients that I expected to see that I've seen
year after year it didn't necessarily see those guys but honestly the sales that I made this time around uh were not
to the collectors from years after year they were new ones awesome that's
awesome to feel like you've got the fresh fresh blood and and new stuff new
stuff in circulation yes but you know I mean the show I feel like every show
gets an enema every now and then and we wash things away and uh new people come
in and I'm sad to see some friends that that mentioned I won't mention them by name but we're pissed off because it
didn't work for them this year it had in the past and I mean shows and shows they're always the same so you're really
sure what you're gonna get but you know I definitely heard from some folks that were like not coming back and then they
give you the opportunity at that one I mean if you've got your checkbook then they're they're letting you back in
that's how they trip out you know the the prime thing I mean we've talked about this last week is is a lot of
times we we feel this urge to to sign on the dotted line to answer back to the email
right away because we want that spot again we want that the place where the returning people come or if it's an
especially visible spot for new people we want to sign on the dotted line and Reserve that spot so one of a kind lets
you do that if you if you Pony up the contract right there on the spot you kind of know you're you're slotted back
where you'd back yeah you save a couple hundred bucks off of an expensive already expensive Booth so you know
that's good what I really enjoyed about it this year uh difference is one thing that people have complained about in the
past is that it gets super claustrophobic back there in the in the hallways you get back in the bowels of the uh
Merchandise Mart start winding through and you're like oh my God I'm gonna push somebody down and just run out of here
so what they did in these 10 by 10s there are a lot more 20 by fives
which opens up the hallways a lot wider that's important and you know a good
friend of ours I saw online their display the the full Bots we've talked
about them they've been topic of conversation their Booth looked phenomenal that way they didn't need to
have a deep Booth they could really have a long narrow display of their pieces it was really visible yeah it is visible
and then you're also walking down and you get you know how many times have you been at a show and just a regular show and and people are walking down they're
like oh are you new you're like no I've been here five years in a row but if something distracts you it's it's like
10 feet is what a pace and a half yeah just like you know all it takes is your your baby crying you know uh something
distracting you hear somebody else's across the way maybe there's rideable mustaches across in the next booth and
it tracks from you and then if you feel like you're trying to get from point A to point B and you're just stuck you're
just like planning your way to fit through the crowd and you're not looking you're not enjoying the experience like
you said it's like the cattle trying to make your way down the Chute yeah and you've got um so a 20-foot Booth even
though it's only five deep a lot more exposure so I thought that wasn't cool so it's
interesting to be set up here in this hotel lobby and I I've got a glass on all sides I'm an old people aquarium but
it's a dark little booth I'm seeing artists leave I just uh there's my my boy Michael schwegman just walked out
he's loading his his van out as I as I speak it's kind of interesting if I'm the old wave as he walks by
hammered on the I hammered on my glass is it bringing you back to your old um
DJ days you know how those some of those that you sit and you can look out yeah I
love that I love that I last on all sides and it's an insulated booth and I mean I couldn't believe it I was I was
literally going out to get my charger I picked up a pair of headphones that were you know of course I forgot my
headphones and so I'm gonna set up and it's uh I'm staying at a hotel it's very hip like it's just painfully painfully
hip it's so hip I can't believe that it it actually works okay it's almost like
a a it's so hip it's like laughable well you know it is to me but it like it
definitely works for people like they if they build it they will come it's filled with hipsters it's starting at five
o'clock just having tacos and and Cocktails and all this stuff so is it
walking distance from the the Martyr did you have to Uber no no it's super close it's a block and a half it's like
perfect uh one of the cheaper it's not cheap but I mean it's yeah it got cheap
these days in downtown Chicago I mean the fact that I got something for under 200 bucks uh is amazing but you check in
at the bar you know you can go play giant Jenga or giant Connect Four or you
can go you know play Scrabble on the board that's giant Scrabble on the board but you know I'm looking across and like
the Scrabble board is boobs and poop and eat me like that's the yeah well it is
laughable thinking about what is What shows have evolved into if
we were to think about like for example today's guest Duke Lawson what he saw back in 1972 do you think anybody from
back in the when the early days of shows could have ever looked forward to something like the one-of-a-kind show
and think of it as that's what's that's what's coming down the track or down the
pike right yeah thinking about a four thousand dollar Booth right yeah no I don't think they were thinking about
that for sure he does talk about in this episode how the evolution or the birth of what he calls the super shows really
changed the industry and I think that that was just a fascinating topic that I
can't wait for people to you know we all kind of feel like we're chasing those super shows we want we want to have a
handful of those shows peppered in with our other schedules so we can really try to make super shows happen you said it
like four times the last two sentences Super Show Super Show super um overly caffeinated so I'm sorry
that's fine I do like that about the the show sometimes with terms that we have
from guests or things that you or I have said have kind of entered the Lexicon so that that it is definitely I I know what
that means and it's like I always call them a-listers or uh or majors and mid
Majors is how I've always like treated like golf tournaments you know it's like well here's you know uh the Indianapolis
500 may not count as more on your more points on the on the schedule but it's like a bigger one but yeah it's good to
be done I'm done for the year oh well I know that feeling it is kind of like everything that you put your energy in
towards it's like coasting into home and planning next year so go home and you're
gonna be on your couch for a few weeks we know that that's always your post One of a Kind gift is a you come home with
some some kind of illness or virus that you take home with you yeah we'll see
I've got my folks are coming actually on Friday so uh I'm coming for the holidays my mom she said her buck one of her
bucket list things but she always wanted to see Santa Fe at Christmas and I'm like well we can make that happen so
let's make that happen yeah their gift this year was flying them into Santa Fe and yeah we're gonna have a great week I
have some big plans and it's funny it's like what do we want to do and I'm looking at things that you can do for
you know the holidays I'm like well John Waters Holiday Spectacular is at the
linsic I don't think I don't think Mom would like that one I don't know why
leave it to will to find the outing or the activity that might make his mom
just a little uncomfortable huh what do you think more mom or Mom she's been tested for the last uh God 50 years but
my I test my poor mother but uh nah they'll have a great time they're staying they're not staying with us out
in uh we're about I don't know about 20 minutes outside of Santa Fe downtown they're staying right in the right on
the Square and and uh the lights are out and everything's been lit up in the plaza so we're gonna have a big time
yeah yeah you're talking about Duke and super shows and I don't know I think it's
incredibly rewarding to get a voice of somebody who's still so fresh but has been in the industry for so long so he
tells a lot of little fun stories that we can all relate to throughout but stick to the end his at the end of his
interview he tells some of his funny one-liners or his funny things that he's
encountered on the road with customers that are Priceless they're guaranteed to have you rolling so so listen to the end
everyone absolutely is a freaking gym in our industry I'm really appreciating his
time and and uh Insight so uh let's turn it up this episode of The Independent artist
podcast is brought to you by zap the digital application service where artists and art festivals connect well
sometimes I'm in a real hurry and I just love that I have things that are saved in Zapped to streamline my process
saving shows as favorites is my personal way of using zap uh that's my favorite
uh I know a lot of people use the calendar they use the events but for me if I'm saving the favorites of anything
I've ever looked at or thought about doing then I can check out those deadlines on a regular basis but then
there's other times when I have a little more time on my hands and I'm looking into other shows all the information is
right there in the prospectus with links to the website I can see who the artists are that have participated in the past
that's a great idea Douglas because one of the ways that I was finding shows at the very beginning was to go online and
see who I felt my work looked good with it's just great that all that information is organized and easy to
look over when planning our next show season well I have a very special guest
with me here today someone I've known for over 21 years and I think a lot of
people out on the road know him too so welcome to the show Duke Clawson from Minneapolis Minnesota hey Duke hey nice
to see you you too man how you been very good very good yeah I had a pretty good winter so far I've talked to you last
week and you said you're just back from a big trip uh yes I went to France and to Italy for three weeks yeah tell me
about it originally I just had planned to go to Italy but then I added a side trip to Paris in advance uh ludes and I
my wife and I lived in Paris for about four months years ago so in the way back machine when you guys first yeah when we
first met I mean it's the very first thing we did is we moved we sold everything and moved to Paris so four months and then we continued on for
another eight months of traveling after that until the money ran out so was it designed to just be like a let's have go
have an experience and exactly way well we thought let's just travel we got to
know each other quite well in a year how long had you known each other before you decided to to launch this big trip
together a very short time in fact I mentioned it to lades so maybe about two
weeks after I met and I told her that I was going to Europe and she says I'm coming too and I thought okay wow I
hardly know you well she wanted to get to know you right
right what better way she had a studio right around the corner from my apartment she
didn't have enough money for an apartment and a store rather not a studio okay and uh so she was sleeping
behind a bookcase and not too long after we met she I met her at the door and she
was standing there with her arms outstretched with her clothes on her arms and said I'm moving in
there must have been some kind of a spark for her to be ready there was there definitely was but uh so we didn't
move there but the reason I went back to Paris is because she had asked me and the three kids to
scattered her ashes where she we thought she'd want to be so I wow I scattered her ashes from important enough Bridge
right by Notre Dame because that was our favorite bridge and we crossed it almost every day so wow that was my reason for
going over to uh France first but then I spent my time in Italy in the northern
part of Italy okay and just north of Florence and up to the Border yeah well
do you still travel as rustic as you did back in the days or oh yeah Creature Comforts had the opinion that the more
money you spent on a trip the less you see the country you're going okay so we always played down Market if you would
if you will um we didn't stay in hostels together when we were first traveling but now I do I stay in the hospital go
out I try to avoid hotels you know there's a an international cast of characters that comes with every hostel
and I find it very interesting and sometimes you really connect and I remember going out drinking until four
in the morning in Spain with uh with a bunch of guys from the from the hostel
you know there's just it's a different experience than sitting alone in your room so so it's not just experiencing
the location it's also experiencing whatever whatever personalities are along the way exactly exactly I think uh
and I enjoy that I enjoy meeting people from other places and it really adds to
the experience of traveling for me you've traveled a lot I mean I I've seen so many photos over the years of you on
your head in front of you know these different in front of these different sites is that still your thing you get
someone take a picture of you in your head actually a trip to Italy
that used to be a little Philadelphia because it started out on a Mountaintop between Lebanon and Syria
right on the Lebanese Syrian border and we were we were trying to decide whether there was enough flat land to pitch a
tent and I said well I could do a headstand here it's that flat you know and of course we were sort of under the
influence and that's how it started and then after that every trip she insisted I do a headstand that became the thing
right yeah the moment the full circle moment of okay this is the proof I was actually there yeah experienced it right
well is it because of like you're like into yoga or is it what what prompted
the headstand oh yeah I I was into yoga back when I was in the Army back in 66
and um I I'm not as strict adherent to all of the principles my breathing and you
know my form is all right my breathing is uh not careful so but I'm not I don't
consider myself a yogi but I could do it at the time and I can still do it so that's why that's just part of my
routine I guess well for those who don't know you standing on your head at what age are you right now
uh thanks a lot I'm outing you on the podcast
man that's great good for you man some people I mean nowadays especially with
the way things are with social media it's like unless it unless it happens on social media did it really happen right
I mean you travel overseas by yourself have experiences with people that you
meet along the way because you are in it for for just that those those memories
and those experiences for yourself great I have traveled alone before before the
death passed away I I've I've done the community Santiago in Spain you know the pilgrimage route to the two of Saint
James five different routes so far okay I don't I don't think you know this but one of the people I have spoken with on
the podcast in the last year was Patricia de Leon right and yeah and she
had told us all about her pilgrimage and it was inspired by
you know what you recounted to her I mean she'd already wanted to do that but
your encouragement also prompted her to do you know to do that and she said it
is just the beginning for her that that is something she's going to do multiple times like it sounds like you've done
yes you know a lot of the thing I think it's one you know
you know uh there's something that calls you back and part of it again is is the exposure to people from all over the
world and you get to know people very well I think my first Camino was 510 miles
and by the time we arrived in Santiago we knew about 60 pilgrims by name and as
we walked into the city they were there to greet us and in turn we turned around and greeted those following us you know
the people we had gotten to know so it was such a community it really is a community and it's such a it's sort of a
bonding situation that I certainly never thought of that in fact that phrase may not have existed when I first did it but
it's very similar to being in a well like being in the army or any difficult
situation you know a camping trip that goes bad you sort of share experiences
that only you and and the other person the other people know about and so it's it's a bond that that endures so I'm
sure it's even more than just the the physical challenge of it there's there's a bit of mental emotional kind of
leaning on each other too right exactly helping each other along the way and I think one of the things that binds you
to the other people is that they're as crazy as you are for I need to walk 500 miles
500 miles that's even hard to Fathom that I mean that's like that's like walking to St
Louis from here yeah exactly Jesus Duke
wow it seems to me that this conversation about travel and kind of
your take on travel is kind of a symbol of your overall life would you say with
with like being an artist and traveling to art fairs it's it's kind of all kind
of fits into the way you lived your life uh yes I'd say so you know being a road warrior on you know doing shows and
stuff it's uh you have many of the same factors involved maybe it's a little bit
easier while you're going somewhere but once you get there and you're setting up and you've got this community of people
which I treasure Beyond almost anything we made our living on the road we didn't
have any galleries or shops or wholesale or anything like that it's all that
one-on-one in-person type setting right well I guess I would even fathom that
you were around at the birth of many shows maybe even the birth of an industry would that be fair to say I
would say pretty close it seemed like the talking to people it was about 1972
or so is when there were enough shows high quality shows with good customers
that you could make a living at it as opposed to getting a job and or even
getting a part-time job you could just get your feet wet and then you'd start swimming it seems like it was about 72
now in 75 it was still very primitive at the time it was there were no KD
canopies there was yeah there were no slides I remember well my first show was
the Uptown Art Fair in Minneapolis okay and I think the jury process was is he held up your check to see if it was any
good how did your check compare to the next person's check it's good you're in
but just as a side note to give you some idea of how much things have changed at
that time uh the Uptown Art Fair fee was 17.50 for
the application before no that was the Boost beat wow and the reason it was
such an odd number is that the year before it had been 15 and hit they tried
to raise it to twenty dollars and there the artist put up such a stink that was a bridge too far that five dollars yeah
so they we compromised and it was 17.50 they made it halfway
and that's the kind of that's the kind of negotiation that doesn't happen nowadays well like I said you know they felt like
the artists were an important part of the event and if they were going to lose artists over five dollars well let's see
if we can meet halfway exactly you know it was quite a different thing at the time too like our
gasoline was 40 cents a gallon you know so the profit margin was fabulous you know right any particular show would be
maybe 25 or something like that and many of our shows at first we did just local
shows because we always drove these old beater Vans for a long time so we didn't finally sort of stretched out pushed the
envelope down to Madison Wisconsin that was the big the big venture out the big
venture out but if you broke down in Madison you might have to live in Madison now right
exactly so in 72 which shows were like kind of the the groundbreakers back then
which ones were around that are still here today well like Lakefront oh Uptown
you know 75 was my first show at the Uptown but ladesse was actually in the first Uptown right in 1964. I remember
gosh the last time I did Uptown you were there and it might have been the last time you guys did Uptown and you were
telling me about how didn't they write an article about that that she had been there the the full duration of the of
the years she missed a few years when we were in Europe and but she was in at the
beginning I think they set up under the Marquee of the Uptown Theater right okay and there were only a few I don't think
there were 25 artists at the time so people just show up with folding tables or what did they display on yeah folding
tables or blankets or or just leaning their paintings up against the wall of the of the stores and then what was it
being put on by was it by The Merchants Association yeah an emergency Association because apparently it uh it
must have increased the number of customers who came to Uptown so they continued it on and continued on for 50
some years now yeah it's like it brings bodies to an economic Center and it's
like advertising in a way it is it's really they're I think they're more concerned about drawing new customers
and letting them know about the area opposed to the artist you know I think a
lot of merchants associations they they're the ulterior motives are stronger than the uh concern for a
particular artists right success or not but obviously they know that the more
successful the artists are the better quality show they will get they've learned that they learn that definitely eventually and then there's like a
learning curve even how how far they can push that because I think we have gotten to a point in
history where some event organizers really think that they'll always be
enough artists to fill whatever spots they want to have so they kind of feel like they hold all of the hold all the
cards I think I think you're right there Doug yeah I think there there are shows that
have they developed a bit of hubris about their position and it's not
obviously it's not good for the artists when that happens yeah so back in in the day there what were the first handful of
shows that I know you were saying you stayed local but then when you start to Branch out what were those early shows
out there actually we were in town for quite a while we we went up to Fargo for
a place called West Acres and then there was the uh there were shows in Des Moines and we did a few Mall shows too
at that time yeah because Mall shows hadn't lost all their credibility you could actually go to a mall show and
make money so we did shows like at Southdale shopping center
which uh was sort of interesting because the ladesse was very pregnant when we
did the Southdale art fair okay and she went into labor at the show you're
kidding okay that's just she's wearing white pants and she's bleeding through her pants and so we're
crossing the parking lot to the our Hospital which happened to be where our older daughter was was born okay and the
mall cops were chasing us because they wanted us to take the ambulance and Modesto's I'm not taking an ambulance
across the parking lot by the time you get a couple of the car here I'll be there so just let me yes so
there you probably know him Doug Hicks watched our booth while we checked in at the
hospital and I went back and then I packed up the jewelry and stuff so Brenna actually is an art fair baby is
she the one that that does went into labor with yes oh she has art fairs for a living now and now for those of you
who don't know the class and glanzer family your daughter uh Bretta is uh
following in your footsteps and she's out on the road as well that's right and she's also a jeweler like you guys she's
a jeweler yes okay awesome and she's been doing it now for 14 years that's got to be a sense of Pride to kind of
feel like what you started a lot of times you know our children will almost be the antithesis of what we do you know
like if you have a banker then you have you end up having an artist and if you're an artist and you end up having a
scientist or something like that right it's got to be kind of a an interesting feeling to be like she followed suit on
you guys and what you do well we very carefully decided never to encourage any of them to go into into the business
okay so there was no we just never said anything about this is what you could do
yeah but you know actions speak louder than words in many cases and you know I
think she saw the freedom that we had and I think that's one of the most amazing things about doing art
fairs is that you're free you're in charge your tasks every day change and your
success depends to AI degree on what you're doing and how you do it yeah so
in that respect the uh it's like it's an attractive yeah as driven as you are you
you directly reap the benefits of that as hard as you want to work you know and
if it's not coming to you the as much as you want then that is almost a motivator to work harder and to
just figure it out yeah business encourages you to to strive
and succeed but one of the difficult things I think a lot of people have is that
they don't know when to stop succeeding like we we used to have these guys
especially men whose wives were looking at jewelry they'd come over to me and they'd say you know what you need to do
you need to hire some people so you could make more jewelry and do more
shows and you could do volume sales yeah so we don't want to do that that's why we're here right that's why we're here
at an art fair working for ourselves and so we can make these decisions on our own yeah as opposed to being a
supervisor because if once you once you have an employee that employee needs to be doing things it needs to be employed
yeah at some task and suddenly you're a supervisor it's a freedom that you can
get with doing art fairs as an artist that you can't get in other places I
think about what you said just a few minutes ago like when you traveled overseas and you kept it as simple as
possible because that extended the amount of time you could have experiences and so this business is
about having those experiences with your work with the people that that connect to your work and it's not about having
more money it's about having more experiences right you know and that's
one of the things you can do with in our business is that you you can schedule your time you can have as much
leisure time or travel time or vacation time as you want and if you can afford it it's another
part of being independent being an independent artist absolutely yeah
so your upbringing did your upbringing kind of lead you to this hippie artistic
lifestyle in no way no way absolutely no
no I was uh I was one of ten kids and I grew I grew up on a dairy farm well I'd
like to say that's unusual but that's the family one generation before me that's the kind of family my parents
came from Dairy Farmers in Iowa but anyway so I I do know that part of your
background really we've connected over right and there's I mean the only art that we were exposed to as children were
maybe the the church art we were all Catholics and so the church and you know
the pageantry of the church is probably about the extent of the art exposure that we had what do you mean by the
pageantry of the church you know being Catholic you know there's you've got
statues you've got paintings you've got murals you've got professionals and stuff like that is all
part of the of the religion yeah we also were German speakers so we had a fairly
tight Community there were about 30 towns that spoke German okay when I went to grade school it was in a one-room
school with 28 other students wow you know all eight grades in one room certainly we had no art programs no I
had no exposure to Art I would imagine in a community that small it was you're probably pretty much on full display
everybody knows what everybody's doing and and it's just it's it's very myopic
that's one really good reason to get the hell out of there everybody knows what you're doing you know because we had
been here for so long in Minnesota we came in 1847 the intermarriage was just
astonishing because sure for the first 70 years that people were living in Stearns County they never married more
than five miles away as far as you could comfortably ride a horse and ride it back okay so everybody was very closely
related and as time went on you had to search out somebody you weren't related yeah weren't too closely related to and
lots of lots of Brothers of the same family marrying Sisters of the other family I'm sure
you know there were so many weddings because everybody had so many kids that you always get invited from both sides
you'd get you'd be invited to the wedding because you were related to both sides okay so so if you were a free if
you were a free thinker that was kind of outside of the of the norm escaping was
probably probably what was necessary true right well I left when I was 13. I
went to the Seminary uh and was that your way out yes it was that was my dad's way out too he said his parents
would let him go to college in the city as long as it was to pursue the priesthood and that's what he did oh
well I left after eighth grade and most of my parents were against it but you
know you could hardly stand in the way of an of a vocation right I mean that was like the highest the highest praise
for our German Catholic was that a child was going to enter into the religious right and why my parents didn't believe
that I don't know I think my father was out count
well isn't that part of it yeah I mean the kids are our Free Labor right so
anyway that was so I left uh when I was 13 and then I spent nine years in the
Seminary so when you leave at 13 does that mean you're actually entering the Seminary at that age or are you like
entering like a high school that's that's grooming you for that well it's it was a it was at St John's University
they had a prep school there okay oh it was a rather strenuous education what
was the intention on your part very clear that it was to escape or was it actually you thought you wanted to be a
priest no I I I had an identification to it okay and gradually I came to realize
that especially as the church changed in the mid 60s I realized that I didn't belong there anymore and I began to
question a lot of other things too it was difficult it was difficult to quit because when you're when you're 22 years
old and you spend nine years in the seminars you know approaching half your life right and you I felt like I had
irreparably damaged my my uh future here on Earth because I had missed my entire
adolescence and I never thought I'd be able to fit in just because you didn't know what was out there right I mean
exactly so you felt like all you knew was this very cloistered life and now
you were coming to terms with that had to change and what's next yeah well what
was next was I quit in January and I had my Catholic and collar still
hanging in the in the closet at the Seminary and in February I was in the
Army I got drafted you did so did you have to go on Vietnam no I I was because
of my fairly extensive Latin and Greek background I scored high in the language test and they I was sent to a language
School in Monterey in California for a year of intensive Arabic and then I was
stationed in East Africa okay and uh Asmara Ethiopia for Military Trail but but at that time
it was still Ethiopia what would they have you do over there the translator and was there there was
military presence there I mean it wasn't I thought everything was happening in in Vietnam then oh no we had a base of uh
well there were 1800 Americans on our base okay there were even uh dependents there wives and children came there too
okay and so we had an American presidency so you really had to feel like you were just plucked out of your
Midwestern existence and into like a whole new Whole New World yes very much
so and I enjoyed it a lot really and I especially uh liked the fact osmara used
to be the Mussolini's old capital and Ethiopia was a colony okay so there were
still 7 000 Italians there and so that a lot of African cities are sort of
they've got a bit of a rough Edge on them but the Italian presence they're the boulevards the restaurants you know
the culture was such that it really it felt a lot like Africa but they were
sort of like little niceties that uh made it a lot easier to to live there okay and I
enjoyed it a lot and how long were you in the military I was there in the military for four years so when I came
back from Ethiopia I went back to the language school as a German assistant instructor in German
and until I until my time was up and then I quit Okay I mean then I was
discharged I would have quit a lot earlier yeah and then that puts you at
about what age like early 20s well I was about 26 by the time I got out of the
army and you've got your whole life in front of you I mean really I mean you've had all of these experiences and then
it's like now what so how did you kind of find your way what what sorts of things did you do you know you can get
if you're a farm kid you can walk under any construction so I can get a job true you just tell me if you worked on a did
you grow up on a farm and and you'll work I mean until they're like completely exhausted they know that
they've got a hard worker right and you know how to work I remember one job I had was that guys said start shoveling
that pile of sand over there this was down in Arizona and I started shoveling and he said you're hired something about
the intensity behind it or the the dead no it was the fact that I I was using my knee as a lever oh you know and I see
people in movies and they're holding a shovel in there they're sort of like all of the motion is in their arms yes
somebody who grew up physical labor almost like prison yeah you could tell right you can tell
right away if somebody's experienced or not yeah anyway that's so I was able to wear construction a lot so did you kind
of become this artistic hippie before La does or was La does the influence that
kind of side she was absolutely the influence she does because I was working construction and I got laid off during the big one in
a big bus it's sort of a boom and bust industry at the time someone had had come to her
shop and wanted to have her design the line of jewelry she had a craft shop
and so she did and it just took off so she was doing jewelry even even when you met her well she was doing beaded
jewelry okay gotcha and we were just sort of I started helping her out and we really we're ready for when those big craze hit
we were prepared we were off and running well before that so it was it was great
but then we lost interested after a while we you know stringing Deeds it's fun designing stuff but it's difficult
if that's all you do so we bought a book on silversmithing and that's how we got started there was no internet back then
you couldn't like do YouTube videos on how to how to learn how to solve this man
no we just had this one book it probably would have been better if we had
had some training but we didn't and in a way it made our work unique to us
because we didn't have much influence to guide us my last interview I talked with
Oliver schnoor from Naples and he got into jewelry because of his
wife who was a traditionally trained Jeweler from Germany and he described
him being self-taught as being like you aren't in a tunnel vision with your
creativity and he could he could lean on Christiana for the technical side of
things when he needed it but the designs were more wide open when you're when you
are self-taught because you can see things from a fresh set of eyes I think you're less likely to follow in your
instructors or your professor's footsteps if you haven't had that
academic experience well I've heard actually I read it in
ledez's obituary years ago that she was categorized as a creative Powerhouse is
that accurate I would I would definitely say so she was up for the challenge of changing
everything all the time yeah um she worked a lot harder at it than I did okay I was sort of a slacker when I
when we worked together although we always had each had our own money we kept track of our own work we had
separate accounts so so you had different lines of work that was under
the umbrella of the partnership no they were actually they were compatible
designs but I had designed some of them and I was making some of them and she
was making her part and we kept track of who's selling what so it wasn't a past back and forth kind of thing or are you
saying actual literal selling at the show whoever would sell it oh no no we would each seller I mean most people
didn't know that we were had separate that separate uh Arrangements yeah you
know okay right interesting we sold it all as as our work I never I never knew that never even considered that over the
years that I just assumed that each piece you guys kind of like had different stages you worked on it you
know but we never worked together really we never we never collaborated on a
single piece interesting and we ran our lives in a very equal manner like when
the kids came along one person would have the kids for six hours in the morning and then in the afternoon they
would work and then the person who had them in the morning the kids in the morning would put them to bed at night and then it would flip the next day so
there was a focus on equality absolutely and whenever we bought groceries you'd
write about one up on the chart on the wall and at the end of the year you'd add it up and split the difference why
did you set it up that way because we both wanted to be independent so we never had a question about ask we
never had to ask each other should I buy this or not you had your own money you do it whatever you want to just as long
as you paid your part of their bills you know right so within your partnership you felt like the strength of the
partnership was having your own individual autonomy exactly that's cool I mean that's quite feminist in a way
for you guys to operate as partners back then in that time wouldn't you say oh
yes well I I would say that I'm I'm a feminist I you know a lot of people
claim they're feminists but it felt like we had equal lives and we had our own
money so we never had to argue about money we never had discussions about money yeah of course it helps if you're
making about the same amount of money true yeah you have one one person in the partnership was making 80 versus 20 of
course you you have to do proportional sort of things like that but that's the way we did it that's interesting because I
think that some people enter relationships and at some point along the way you start to feel like
am I dependent or is this person dependent on me and then it's like it tends to
maybe lose a little bit of that equality or that feeling of like who's pulling
their weight or is somebody with you because they're your equal partner or because
they they want something from you or need something from you you know you know I had no problem going off to what
the Caminos for five weeks four weeks six weeks whatever because I would work
harder before I left and I would work hard when I got back you'd make up the difference yeah the desk is fine with it because I
uh I was taking taking care of my part of the arrangement so it gives a person a lot of freedom
and you know like she took a lot of time off because she was an inline marathoner in landscape
and so she trained a lot in the summertime I've seen photos that you've posted of her with her like skates and
helmet and I didn't realize she was a marathoner though yeah in fact the day
before her first cancer surgery she actually set a record for the North
Shore Marathon for her age group really I don't know I don't know if she had the top record but I think she was in the
top three on that in her age category she was fast I mean she skated the equivalent of 26 four minute miles wow
so when you say Marathon or so was that 26 miles just like like a running
marathon exactly the same route that Grandma's Marathon interesting
wow I mean she seemed so like so small and so delicate but I mean she's
supposed must have been really strong to be able to do that when she was training in the summer I used to ride my bike
with her yeah to keep her company and I had a 21 speed bike and as we got closer
to the end of July I could barely keep up seriously because she was I mean she was a super fast that's that's really
cool so she she did have time to do that right so whether you were off doing the
Camino she she had her things that recharged her batteries that was more to life than just you know making jewelry
exactly so you raised your daughters in this lifestyle I mean what what kind of
an impact does growing up with parents like you guys what does that do well we
took him with us on the road all the time and a lot of times in the winter we would just pull them out of
school for six weeks when we went down to Florida and the teachers were very Cooperative they sent along the homework
and things they could hand out just like six weeks worth of homework and come back and they have it done and yeah well
I always thought that a day on the road it'd be you'd learn as much as you would as a day end of school life experience
life experience comes for a future uh you know and they had a free range of
Fairly free range into three of them stuck together they were usually you know fairly safe I think one time they
got caught on the 21st floor of a building that was under construction in
Tampa they were playing cards up on that floor they were off exploring
because so they were more like free-range kids than kids are now yeah
and there's no cell phones or anything so they're stuck I mean they've got to figure out how to get out of that
situation right were they like middle schoolers then or what oh no they were
younger than that wow yeah they were like like 10 and eight and six or something like ten and eight and four
okay I've I had this kind of conversations with with Mickey and rayco last year about the free range kids you
know what I mean that's what her and Rico and Luke had a very similar experience like you're talking about with your daughters right I don't know
that they ever got away and and went up in a building and got got stuck but I think they roamed the art fair sites for
pretty much yeah well one time we were at the plaza at breakfast the artist's breakfast at
the plaza and one of the volunteers came up or to our table and said there are a
couple of cops who would like to speak to you in the back of the room we go okay we went back to the back back
in the room and these two guys two big cops and our three kids they were standing back there and the kids were
sort of hanging their heads and the cop said we found your children taking money out of the fountain and the
money was intended for the blind kids or something like that they're like it was a wishing Pond or something right yeah
so we just we just sat there money the money was there for the taking so
they did have some run-ins with with authorities but generally they would they were very good so we know of Brenna
tell me about about your other daughters well our actually she graduated in
minor in art prints and stuff but then she had kids and so she her life sort of took a very
domestic turn for a while but Brennan and Ivy they are they have traveled
everywhere they've had like I think they were 17 months on a backpacking trip in
Southeast Asia and uh Brandon just got back from a scuba diving trip in Borneo
she was in Australia for two months after Plaza that's cool he and Ivy went up to Borneo for I think it was nine
days but uh yeah I think they travel a lot because it it's very familiar with
it yeah they get they get some of the same experiences that you had been seeking out over the years and right and
they're they're Frugal about a lot of things and because travel is important to them yeah you know it's a sort of a
values I think that people develop well what have you gotten over the years out of your travels well I think Prof
itiation for the differences and and people and and geography and customs I think you've
seen the top and the bottom I mean I've been in very very poor countries and
very well to do countries and uh I'm interested in history I do know that
about you many times when you were on the circuit regularly our conversations
would revolve around history and politics and and travel and and all
those things you know on this tripless last trip to Italy I went up to uh bolsano in Northern Italy and uh I don't
know if you remember there was the Iceman who was discovered in 1991 it was
a a man who was frozen no in the Alps okay and uh he was discovered by a
couple of hikers and they thought it was a murder scene okay and they called the cops it turns out he was a Stone Age
Hunter wow and he uh had Arrows with stone tips on him he was wearing a bare skin hat
and hide clothing and shoes that were made woven shoes that were filled with
straws that were kept warm well I I was really interested in that when that happened but then when I had
my DNA analyzed by 23 and me yeah in the column under famous people you're
related to The Iceman was in my car oh my God I remember I was when you were
telling that story I was thinking back to the year that we were Neighbors at Coconut Grove and you had just had your
23andMe done do you remember what year it was it seems like a really long time ago it was about 15 years ago I'd say it
was probably yeah probably about 2006 or something like that and that was before it had ever grown into what it is now
where we're long-lost relatives are being connected through DNA and everything right and you were telling me
about this program and you how excited you were by it yeah well I when I was I
went up to the city where he you know there was a there was a dispute about whether it was in Austria or in Italy so
they re-surveyed the area and it turned out it was in Italy so it the um Museum
where he had where he's located right now it's a five-story building and you can still you can look through a window
and see him he's actually still frozen his the flesh is still on his body wow and they were able to determine like the
contents of his stomach and where he grew up based on the charter on his teeth he was so preserved yeah he was so
preserved uh and then it turned out it was a murder scene he was shot from behind and Below as he was going up this
mountain he was shot with Stone tip Arrow wow and it was just I just thought I gotta go see it you know my relatives
how many generations away was it right whoa Thirty it was 320 Generations back
so it was 5 300 years ago and it was
before the first dynasty in Egypt third dynasties when they built the
pyramids and it was like he lived before Stonehenge I mean 5 300 years ago now
I can't imagine how much DNA they could base a connection to me but right I know I just
accepted it well did you see the resemblance when you walked up to him
but they actually don't let them dry out every six weeks they spray them with a fine mist and they keep them Frozen
because they don't want them to dissicate okay they wanted and you know they're they've got a team
of scientists that have been working for 30 years on learning all they can about
it and as the science develops they learn more and more all the time
so are they doing like like tests and studies on him or is it just to preserve
him for like Museum purposes or what no no they're still doing tests on them okay yeah that's interesting it seems
like it's every six months or so I hear more about you know something they had just discovered about her yeah so well
speaking of your history I know that you're a writer and is that kind of
where you put your your writing energies towards is it do you kind of write about
what you know or what what are you what are your stories about my stories the the book I had published I don't know
that was a long time ago 25 years ago it was there were stories of my growing up
in Stearns County because it was a very with every passing year it becomes more
and more distant and unusual to grow up the way I did okay and after I had been
away to Seminary for nine years and then four years in the army that was 13 years and I came back and things had
drastically changed in 13 years because as soon as television came in you know the German just disappeared like my
younger brothers and sisters don't speak German they're the last five of them yeah don't and they can understand
German and you know we got suddenly we got paved roads we started to have Outsiders
coming in but television was massive it was massive as far as the social change this
flooding in what is going on out in the world and culture and all that I remember it was in the third grade in
grade school it was the first time I ever heard of an ocean really I I hadn't heard of an ocean and then I I nearly
cried because I thought well I will never see one you've proved that one wrong right yeah exactly but I mean
that's a that's how isolated it was yeah because nobody had ever really gotten anywhere after they had traveled all the
way over from from Germany and Austria and and uh Switzerland
all this mix of people had come 5 000 miles and then they just stayed put in
the county you know they just never went anywhere after that and I was felt like I was part of that yeah I felt like I
was never going to be able to see anything different so but then recapturing that did you feel like you
wanted to kind of preserve that not that you wanted that way of life to be lived anymore but did you
feel like you needed for it to know that it know that it had existed sort of yeah exactly it's sort of bare
Witness to the fact that this was what that was like at that time and I at
first I was thinking somebody ought to write about this but then I realized that you know there wasn't anybody like
the first people who went to high school even were only like five years older than I was and that most of them didn't
go more than years so my brother didn't go to high school at all I thought well I guess it's going to be me so I started
writing stories and I wrote them in the fictional form because I thought nobody's going to read in any dry
history on someplace like right like and this happened and this happened but as Fiction it's more like getting into the
heart of the story getting into the heart of the characters right it's good it was categorized when it was published
creative non-fiction is where you're using real life and then shaping them
with plot and dialogue and uh they call those biopics nowadays
but uh I I had written a whole bunch of these stories and my writing group encouraged
me to submit them to a competition and it was picked to be published so wow
that's how that's how it got published I sort of never expected you didn't have aspirations for it to be
published necessarily that wasn't why you were doing it well I was I guess I had I always thought I had a long way to
go before I'd be ready to be published so it was a surprise to me but then is
that something that carries on are you still a writer or just an Avid Reader or
I'd say an Avid Reader I just sort of working a little bit on the kids want to
meet her write down our family history and I'm sort of working on that as
are rather complicated family history going back to the 1600s cool so
otherwise I don't no I don't write writing is a really lonely business I
guess now I wouldn't have many interruptions sure no it would be easy enough to do it again but at the time I
always felt like I was taking time away from living the rest of Life yeah yeah
living and interacting and having experiences yeah it's so solitary like you know let
me get down my thoughts and I mean people experience it and they
they you know they get to experience what you've written and so it's almost like
you don't get to feel that connection your audience will feel the connection because of reading your words but I can
see that you are such a social being that that might be like um once it was
done you're ready to move on you know okay I did that been there done that
yes in a way yes not that I have ruled it out for the future
but uh when I finished it I sort of felt like well that that part of my life is
behind me now I had no desire to go back to that yeah I'm sure that helped you
kind of process I think we all go through a period in life when we do Circle back to things that
happened in our past and you know maybe it was a period of reflection and processing and moving on
definitely was that you know they were sort of
psychological and disturbances that you end up having to work through if you're writing about it
you know you have to you have to uh put yourself back into that into that world
and try to figure out what was going on come at it from a come at it from uh
where you're not the the center of the story you're coming at it from the different
the the different players are the different characters in the story and you can see more of a broader picture
perhaps and I think the distance I was actually you know 30 years later that I
was I was writing from a distance of 30 years which a lot of times people will write when
they're in a foreign country living in a foreign country I know a lot of people will begin writing because they can see
much more clearly what the society is like that they had left you know and I
couldn't think of any number of authors who did who wrote about that yeah we do
find people are so immersed in our own culture our
own country and have that kind of that myopic view of just like we live in the
greatest country in the world until we start to realize what else is really out
there you know certainly there are things that we have that we should be really grateful for
but those aren't always the reason that people are alive on the planet either you know the the materials or the those
kinds of experiences that it sounds to me like you got
a lifetime of memories from seeking those out in your travels and you know
strangely enough people always ask well how does your traveling affect your jewelry
I say you know it almost never affected us at all I mean we were becoming more and more familiar
with all kinds of different work different jewelry from different countries and stuff but it really didn't
wasn't reflected in any way after we got home we had our own agenda and a lot of
the jewelry it was very traditional and our jewelry
wasn't traditional so we wouldn't be going down that path it's sort of like if you if you're a
Potter and you see Primo pots that are made in a culture where Pottery is just
the functional thing you probably wouldn't let it affect it wouldn't affect too much of your your art Pottery
if that's what you were doing or sculpture police sculpture or anything like that and it's it was it's an odd
sort of dichotomy that people have sort of an idea of what they want to do what
they want to make and just like the introduction of another influence isn't necessarily going to change the
direction of their of their work well I think of it like this and tell me what you think about this idea it maybe isn't
that you're drawing inspiration of design that you see a direct you know let's say replicating of what you've
seen from other jewelry from other parts of the world but what you do learn
from your experiences is that feeling of being open like an open channel to what
comes next that that that not being so predetermined as to what an outcome
might be and having that skill put into any kind of a creative Endeavor
kind of opens us up to really exploring right and in that
way the uh you see how another Society developed and how they decided to unless they make
jewelry or if you look back at the Roman during the Roman Empire you know the the glass that you see or the Syrian glass
and some of its Lebanese you see what their aesthetic was but it isn't
necessarily something that you want to imitate but it's it's just sort of like
so this is how they did it back then and you realize that you're in a long tradition of human endeavor to make
whatever your craft is and even from like primitive means it's like we can have technology
be dropped in our lap in order to do things maybe easier or faster but that
does not necessarily make the designs any better or or the nature of the work any better you know it might it might
make it possible to do do things that were impossible yeah well I'm looking at
jewelry if you look at the at the scythian work from the steps of Russia my God I I
don't know of any Jewelers who could do that work at that level I mean I'm sure there are some but they
have income I haven't come across them I wouldn't even begin to have the skills to even
replicate looking directly at let's say a pair of earrings that have got such
complex work there's so it's complex procedures that are involved in it but it's good to know it's good to know that
that's what it was was possible once and it's something that you could aspire to in your own work so thinking
back over kind of the history of just over 50 years of art shows out there
there's obviously been an evolution to say the least what would you say are
some of the ones that kind of stick out at you most like with how the how the industry has shifted from what you knew it to be
well probably the very first thing was the introduction of canopies like
the original was the KD canopy uh I think it had a very decided effect
on the social connection between artists like we used to just be sitting out in the open you would have five minutes
where you didn't have a customer you'd be talking to your neighbor but once you got a canopy and you had walls
suddenly you're cut off the only way you can talk to your neighbors is to walk around a wall and see them
and I think at that point there was less identification with
fellow artists because before that it was nothing but identified you were
sitting in the rain with with your with your neighborhood that made a big
difference the introduction of that and then you know the uh then as things became more formal sending in slides you
know the whole business with the Red Dot you know submitting slides to be juried
and the introduction of the sort of the bureaucracy the competition aspect of it
yeah it was more competitive but I was also because somebody had a had to administer
all these this this selection things became more and more expensive okay I think it did bring up the quality of the
work because you couldn't just keep doing the same thing there was sort of a built-in
impetus to compete with other artists for to have the best set of five slides
you know and it even bled over into having the best looking display and then there were shows that gave you a prize
if you got the best the best display and that was certainly not in in the mix
when we started out and then I think the development of the super shows was
really a big thing because a lot of people I think if you get one or two of the big super shows you can stay in business people
are able to make a living doing more big shows if they can get into them and have
more time to develop their own work or their own personal lives you know like starting with Cherry Creek
and St Louis and Winter Park right and you know Old Town you get like shows
that are wonderfully lucrative and that's one thing that you didn't have at
the early stages although there wasn't that much difference between how much money you netted so you're saying the
birth of the super shows the net ended up being about the same the super shows it was it was a lot more
than it started out with but like just for example the the Uptown Art Fair sure you know there I shouldn't probably even
be saying this because it would probably get back to them but okay they're basically they have the the fee
structure and such now that you would expect that you would make a lot more money than you did back when it was
17.50 but it's not true in fact sometimes you make less than you did back then oh uh I had Cindy lyric on as
a guest.duke you're not you're not breaking any news she's she's not all about that okay how she went to bed and
kind of broke it down and let and let the shows know that more artists means
more booth fees but that doesn't necessarily mean that every artist is now making more money you know and if
you want to have a good show yet you need to find that sweet spot of the right right amount of artists the right
Booth fee so that everybody wins and um I'm in the Right audience in the Right audience that's that's the whole thing
right there but um we talked a lot in this last year about getting off the hamster wheel you
know we've learned that before kovid that the chasing of all the
super shows and executing all the super shows and the more and the more and the more was driving people crazy because
the more you work the more you have to work to keep the train going down the track yeah I think that was really a an
eye-opener for a lot of people is that we found out that if they got rid of their the bottom 20 percent of their
shows you could probably make just about as much money because you didn't have the expense and you had time in the
studio to prepare for your other shows yeah so that made a quite a difference and it could only be it could only have
been the covet type of situation that would reveal that sure because nobody ever stops to take time off and saying I
wonder how it would work if we did a lot less and it's a complicated puzzle because you know you you let's say you
you write down all of the the expenses and you compare them against the the grocery seats and it's like there's so
many variables that it's just really hard to get to those numbers until the rugs pulled out and you have nothing to
look at but no income all right I know you know we actually
did an analysis probably about 1990 or so we wrote down how much we made and what
the expenses were in and the driving in the motels and stuff and then compared
that all to the time out of the studio which a lot of I think a lot of people
don't really count that but you know like if you're doing a show and it it takes you out of the studio for four
days including your weekend by the way that has to be figured in and you know
we didn't overrate ourselves as far as how much we were paying ourselves when we were on the road but it did [ __ ]
the figures a lot to what became uh let's try it again versus a let's stay
home decision and oddly enough some of the shows the local shows that were one
day shows and that you were able to sleep in your own bed suddenly went up to scale quite a way
compared to like say driving a day out and a day back and having hotels in the
gas bills and all that those shows would suddenly sort of become almost done to par and you were
almost you'd have to decide okay I don't want to sit at home all the time because the show local shows are like poorer
quality so you want to be part of the of the continuing uh search for good shows
I mean or prestigious shows but you can see that things were balancing a lot because you were figuring out how much
you were spending I remember that time that you were kind of getting the brass
tacks putting it all together because there was a year there where you had told what we're saying to me
ladez and I we decided to switch up our jury images this year and we kind of
wanted to cut back on our shows and do a few less and I'm happy to say that the
shows were were willing to help us out in that regard or something so you must have had like a bad jury here and you
didn't seem worried about it or concern you're like it'll all get figured out where I was in that stage having little
kids thinking that would terrify me to be in that position
well I think you wanted a cage to be an art fair artist has always spend less
than you're making it's probably true for just about good advice for sure yeah is that we were we were the absolute
denizens of Motel 6 you know like we never stayed at a fancy hotel unless we
except for that one little period when the hot wire and oh right they were and
I used to post I used to post the cheap ones at the art on the art fair Source
book or whatever ever know nothing about you know otherwise we stayed at Motel 6 because if you keep your expenses down
you make more money absolutely and it's sort of uh puts your feet down on the ground you know you have a good basis
for staying at a Sheridan five star or whatever it's just a personal thing I
feel more comfortable being with my own people I see well I remember too one of
the things Le Des had said to me once was that she kind of viewed
the art fair life being an artist as almost like being a missionary in the
sense that taking a vow of poverty not that you wanted to be poor but you wanted to live simply so that what was
important could be experienced you know I don't think we ever really talked
about that sort of thing I mean it was just sort of like I'm surprised to hear that she mentioned that to you because
uh we were so much on the same page that we never even like that was understood but it wasn't
actually had to be overtly stated exactly it was just implicit well I know for a fact
that you have always been the kind of person who valued people valued
experiences because I still remember my first interaction with you we were at
the Wausau Art Festival 20 21 22 years ago I think I'd only been
doing shows for about a year and I didn't know anybody and I did was just getting to figuring things out and our
first conversation you said to me so you're here and not at St Louis this weekend are you and I didn't even know
about St Louis at that point so I didn't even know I didn't even know what you meant by that I just knew that I was doing local
shows you know local to where I'm where I'm at and you struck up this conversation with
me and I felt so new and you were you were a veteran and there were no errors
there were no like I'll come back and and interact with this guy when I know he's gonna be around the block a little
while longer there was you treat me as if it was you'd know me for you know your whole career
and that was very meaningful to me and I've always appreciated that we have
have had that Rapport over the years well you have a better memory than I do
I have to say I I remember you being at this
morning stuff to me that I don't remember that I said you're so damn profound Duke you're just you're a
fountain of wisdom you just can't you can't be bothered to remember that [ __ ] everything's accessible because it's on
the surface so anyway well looking back over all
your years on on the road I mean do you ever do you ever miss it or do you get to spend enough time out there being you
know Brenna's uh plus one out there yeah I think being a roadie sort of
softens the transition because like I've got helped her down at Winter Park and this year I helped her at Jazz Fest St
Louis and the plaza and um so I got to see all my old friends and
uh got to uh see what it's what things look like now and you know they have
changed yeah in the three years that I've been I've been speaking of super shows those were a few super shows that
you were at right yeah exactly and I also I got the gift of covet from Jazz
did you um yeah dang it I got home and two days later I had covered so but you
had the you had the booster so you did just fine with it right right I had a very mild mild case of it thank God but
they're they're still exciting things happen like I was at the uh what was it the Kansas City show yeah I was handing
a customer a necklace and I and as I handed it to him my shorts dropped down
around my head I I don't know what happened it was all
of a sudden I was just standing there in my underwear and I just pulled him back up again and
then made the sale oh gosh you know lucky that didn't end up on the
Internet Duke sort of the unforeseen uh things that
are part of aren't Fair light so is that why you're wearing suspenders today I was just wondering no but
no but sort of a rubber rubber belt now that I can tighten and tighten up a little better come on dad yeah that was
a that was a prize but they're they're also
I I have to tell you about this one occasion and I usually a bit of a smart
ass but not consistently but it was it was a guy at Boca and he was buying a
pair of earrings and it was just like 78 dollars for a pair of earrings you just
would not accept that price and he just kept trying to bargain with me
and he says well how about it just just drop the taxes and you know I just went on for like about five minutes
Relentless yeah just Relentless and finally I said wait a minute how about if I show you
something you can't afford oh that is that was that was not the uh diplomatic
thing response to it is it was pleading wow he just went berserk yeah I could buy your
whole booth and I said then do yeah put your money where your wealth is
buddy yeah there are lots of uh there are lots I remember a lot of things there are just
the artists encounters with customers you know yeah
people who like this I remember one lady said
what do you call this piece here and I said well it's a pendant yeah and she said but I know but what is the name of
it I said that doesn't have a name it's a piece of jewelry yeah she says well
I'm going to call it Tinkerbell okay okay
a name is going to give it a few more zeros at the end of it yeah
yeah for weirdos to come out these two women came by and they said one of one of the women said you know I'm just
completely impressed and Blown Away by the quality of the work of this show yeah she said it's it's making me think
about going into art myself and the other lady says so what are you thinking about are you
thinking of 3D or 2D and she says no I think I'll start out with 1D and see how
that works I mean where where do you ever get a chance to
hear conversations like that I mean it's one of my favorite things is listening in overhearing conversations absolutely
just the just the outrageousness behind it you know what I mean exactly
well Duke we've we've already been talking now for an hour and a half believe it or not this is oh sorry
you're not apologizing this has been a great conversation I wasn't gonna I wasn't gonna shut you up what are you
talking about this is this is podcast gold man
but um yeah so I just want to say thanks for everything out there and I mean
really a lot of us don't even realize what kind of rudimentary kind of system
how this Market that has grown to what we now know it to be how it started way
back in the you know in the way back machine and people like you you know you
really you really gave the industry legs it was built on the backs of people just
like you and I just I just feel like it's it's been we just owe you a huge debt and I
appreciate everything you've done
chips that we have developed over the years yeah with this huge variety of
people all of whom are sort of weird in their own ways it's sort of like the people you meet when
you travel all over the world you get to know people who are from a different place or coming from a different place
and you appreciate that it's for for me it's it's been a privilege and I uh and
it's been a lot of fun it's true it's a fun life that we have well I hope to see you next year out on
the road with Brenna sometimes so thanks for taking the time and sitting down with me and it's been good to catch up
all right thanks a lot Doug you're back take care man appreciate it all right bye [Music]
multi-dimensional talk Douglas but uh let's stick it to the 1D
it's that uh story it's old man I uh you know it's funny Duke is one of those guys that I've always been aware of but
I've never really met him and I feel like I kind of know him well I do know him better now but I I can't wait to to
hopefully hopefully get out there and see him on the road or see him in some some point he's still kicking it out
there with uh with his daughter with Brenna you know he's he did three or four shows last year with her and still
traveling still seeing the world so Duke is still an active part of our industry out there and we really appreciate all
those just kind of where we came from and and and what this life meant to him
and what it means to a lot of us absolutely I was wondering I was talking to some artists over the weekend Douglas
yeah and we were you know some shows that that they've done and that they have uh you know there have been hiccups
along the way and and they leave with animosity and um you know with this with the high show fees has it ever occurred
to you to like to apply to a show and then just is it worth it 45 dollars to
to Xerox a picture of my butt and just send it oh just to just to give up ironic kind of application Yeah ironic
application it's it's uh it's a new it's sweeping the nation all right uh yeah great talk with uh with Duke man I'm
gonna the tacos are starting to waft in out of the Hipster Lobby I think I'm gonna go eat some breakfast and uh
sounds good man um great to to see your smiling face uh my friend you too
Spirits are back up and and uh feeling a little optimism feeling like my old self
again well safe safe drive on their commute back to Santa Fe and then enjoy your time with your family
thank you my friend see you soon all right talk to you later man bye this podcast is brought to you by the
National Association of Independent Artists the website is also sponsored by
zapplication that's and while you're at it check out Will's website at
1:32:41 and my website at be sure to subscribe
to this podcast and be notified when we release new episodes [Music]
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