The 50th Anniversary Seawall Art Show
One annual tradition in my very short professional pottery career is The Seawall Art Show in Portsmouth VA. It was the first juried show I ever applied to but it goes back even further than that.. much further! It was when I lived in West Virginia that I first heard of the town called Portsmouth, VA, I would have been 11 or 12 years old or there about. I guess my dad was branching out, looking for new shows to do, and he ended up getting into the Seawall Art Show. In the past it had usually been the whole family going to the shows but this time it was just my father and I. We were both excited to set up and tryout his newly designed and built display stand. It folded flat and sat up as one unit of multi tiered shelves that kinda stair-stepped back to the point where you couldn't really reach anything on the top shelf without going behind the unit and fumbling around for the piece from there. It was a design that I have thus far opted not to copy. In those golden days of yore the show was actually held on the boardwalk along the Elizabeth River near where it empties into the Chesapeake Bay. Our booth was located right against the railing of the river boardwalk with the picturesque Norfolk waterfront skyline as the backdrop. It almost made up for this monstrosity of a shelving unit. As I recall, sales were slow and at the end of the day we packed our pottery away since we had no tent let alone tent walls. We wound up that first night crashing at the B&B of someone my dad had met earlier that day at the show.
Day two had us out there bright and early but lo and behold.. there were our boxes of pottery, but no unsightly stand anywhere! Police were called, scuba divers did an underwater search.. I don't recall the results of that other than there were no display units being brought back from the depths on that day, whether down there or not! We literally had nowhere to set the pottery but on the ground. After much deliberation it was decided that we would be allowed to set our wares on the brick edge of the water fountain in the center of the show. At this point word had gotten around. I don't know if it was the fountain display stand or just pity, but sales were remarkably better and we went home with a lighter load that was not due to the missing display alone!
I can't imagine this experience had any thing to do with it, in fact it was a job opportunity for my mom, but within a year or two the entire family was on the move to the Tidewater area, landing in Virginia Beach. It would be many, many years later, after moving back to the mountains, that I would again embark on this journey to the Portsmouth Seawall Art Show, this time laden with works of my own making, and without accompaniment. This is my long history with the show and this is the reason that it is such a great honor to have won the 3rd place ribbon for the 2022 , 50th Anniversary Seawall Art Show!