For many years I participated in the Florida outdoor art show circuit. During those years I set up my tent in venues ranging from parking lots and piers to cow pastures and river banks. One of the prettiest shows took place in Tarpon Springs in a park by one of the many bayous that weave through the beautiful city.
And every year I was fortunate to land the same spot right next to the water and under a lovely water oak tree. One of its spreading branches dipped low over the sidewalk, even forcing tall visitors to duck their heads. After a while the tree became the main attraction and more than one person called to their friends that the stately oak should win Best of Show.
Two long time collectors often came to the show in a boat and if I was lucky, they returned home with a piece of my art leaning in the stern. The quirky nature of the Tarpon show always made it fun to do.
But after several years my sales dried up and I began wondering whether I should even participate anymore. For every positive reason there were one or two negative ones; too hard to get to, no parking, no artist dinner, no sales.
During one particularly dismal show I had decided that unless some miracle happened I would not do it again. Sunday afternoon rolled around with only a couple measly sales to show for it and no miracle on the horizon. Against all rules, I decided to start breaking down my art display early. The worst they could do would be to blackball me from the show. Thank you very much.
Around 4:30 I took several small pieces off the wall and leaned them against the display. Maybe I could get a jump on the other artists and say sayonara to Tarpon Springs. Just then, an old acquaintance stopped by to say hello and listen to my moaning about the show.
While we were standing there chatting, he looked past me to my display and broke into a broad grin. I turned just in time to see a dog of indefinite lineage lift its scrawny leg on one of the drawings.
Thus relieved, the cur sauntered off, leaving me, for once, at a loss for words. My acquaintance, when he was able to stop laughing, pointed at the disappearing dog.
“Looks like everybody's a critic!”