NCECA 2011 Tampa

My first NCECA on the board of directors was more work than I possibly could have imagined, but was equally rewarding. Jeanette, a coworker of mine from Bracker’s, flew in on Sunday night so that we could start setting up the expo walls bright and early on Monday morning. We started at 8am and had the structures up by around 2pm. Then the rigging of the lights began. This was a bit more challenging and took several attempts to get right, but we were smart enough to mark everything so that it will be easier next year. I think we finished up around 6:00 or 7:00pm

On Tuesday the galleries began moving all of the pots in to really make the space come alive. 6 galleries across the 8 Expo spaces plus the Artstream trailer, La Mesa show and ten projects space artists filled the entire room. Somehow, it all came together in time for the reception and opening that night at 6:00pm. The turnout was beyond my wildest dreams and I was absolutely thrilled. At the board dinner that night, I was fully indoctrinated into board antics with a wonderful pink flamingo hat, which I proudly wore down to the bar. I’m not sure how many pictures similar to this one there are, but I’m sure some day they’ll come back to bite me. The next three days were a whirlwind of visiting the commercial exhibitors and thanking them for their attendance, introducing speakers, and in the few spare evening moments I had, reconnecting with old friends whom I only get to see once a year or so. Suddenly it seemed to all be over and I found myself sitting in a meeting room at the convention center on Saturday, participating in the “post game analysis”.  It was hard to not feel a bit melancholy and let-down.  Fortunately Rhonda had her 5 month old baby August there with her.   I’ve heard before that holding a baby can work miracles…If I am any indication, then that is absolutely true, because after a ten minute baby fix, I was already feeling a ton better, and later in the afternoon, I even got to go for a swim and play in the pool with August.  It brought back wonderful and happy memories of my own kids in the pool and made it possible to last one more day in Tampa.

That night was the board and staff dinner.  And I have to say, I had the best looking date in the bunch.  I was so lucky to have Jeanette by my side that evening and throughout the entire conference from the flight out to the flight home (and she make sure I didn’t take any wrong turns coming home from the airport).

NCECA has always been one of my favourite things all year.  It’s a TON of work, and not a lot of sleep.  I come home exhausted and missing my family, but I wouldn’t miss it for the world, because within that exhaustion is an incredible level of inspiration and excitement about clay.  It’s tough to make the choice:  sleep, or studio…, or clay….hmmm, maybe sleep IN the studio and do clay WITH the kids.  And after all, it will only be a few years before my kids are workin’ the Bracker booth at NCECA.  Isn’t that the way it’s supposed to be?

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