Exhibitions (Group)

Supernumerary's walk-on at Salmela

View from boat house at Taidekeskus Salmela (Note: Huge swarms of mosquitoes hang around in damp, dark boathouses in Finland.)

There was a surprise mini heatwave last weekend, and it luckily coincided with the opening ceremonies (PARTY!) for Taidekeskus Salmela's grand summer exhibition. The gorgeous weather brought with it a huge crowd and a general good mood (unless you sat in the direct sunshine for too long, or in the shadows near the water where the mosquitoes lurked).

I went to the party with husband and baby girl in tow. (I left the rest of the teeming horde of children at home with grandma.) I'm always a bit timid at these sort of public functions, and I hid behind the prettily dressed baby most of the time. Unfortunately for me, the baby-as-social-manager only really works at family/friends sort of dos, helping avoid small-talk awkwardness (who doesn't have something to say about a baby, cute or not). At large art events, people are sizing up each other, their networking angle and the art (in that order), so babies are more like messy accessories that need to be avoided (and kept away from the art and hors d'oeuvres).

Of course I enjoyed bumping into a few familiar colleagues and friends. I really should get out to these events more often, for the news and gossip, not to mention potential exhibition opportunities I've missed out on. My spoken Finnish is still halting and limited, so I (pathetically) relied on the English proficiency of everyone else.

I did dash out in front of the cameras once (though it could have ended badly with me embarrassing myself, or maybe I did anyway), at the closing-ceremony/speeches, when all the exhibition artists stood for a photo-op and flowers. There wasn't any artist roll call, and I didn't shout an introduction for myself, so maybe that little sprint was all for naught.

From what I was told, my paintings, hanging in the bar-corner section of the Kesäheinä restaurant are in a 'cash'n'carry' type of area, meaning that if they were sold and the buyers decide to leave with them then and there, no one else will see them later in the exhibition. I can't decide how I feel about that; on the one hand it would be fantastic to sell everything, and on the other, a drag that they wouldn't be on view the entire summer.

While we were there a red mark had been put next to one painting, so I quickly took pictures of the set-up, just in case, for posterity. Here's what they looked like as of 11.6.2011:

Poi'itus / Calving and Mummi and Baby

Veden lumous and Ajatusten vaihtoa

Interior view of restaurant

(If anyone visits the show later in the summer and could give me an update, that would be fantastic!)

Suddenly with Children

It's bad enough when silly stuff comes out of my mouth unbidden and ends up in print. Now it appears that I don't even have to speak to a reporter to have erroneous/farcical information printed about me or my work. I wasn't able to attend the press information session before the opening of the arSboretum 11 exhibition at the Westers Garden in Kemiö, which turns out to have been to my detriment. Either I was left off from write-ups entirely, or the reporter got fanciful:

Petra has many small children, the youngest of which was born in January, so understandably she was not able to attend in person. She paints the Lappish landscape around her and children, such as are in the paintings hanging in the summer cabana...(from Salonjokilaakso, June 9, 2011, a free local newspaper, translated by me)

I'm not sure how two young children turned into 'many', maybe the reporter was taking sloppy notes and got confused when s/he saw my paintings of several children on a pier. With 'many' young children it would be understandable if I don't get out much. I find it challenging finding the time to paint with two small children, let alone 'many'! And another point, even though I live in the Oulu area, which is way up and out there (compared to where I've lived in the US), I do not, technically, live in Lapland. That's another...well, about 31 miles north from here! I guess anywhere above Tampere seems like the great tundra to those southerners (Turku and Helsinki residents).

To sign off on a positive note, the regional newspaper Turun Sanomat did refer in passing to my portraits as painted "in the spirit of traditional national romanticism" (see Halonen, Pekka; Edelfelt, Albert and Gallen-Kallela, Axeli).