Remembering Second Seating, One Year Later

Second Seating opened one year ago. September 24, 2009. Since it's nearly 1:00 a.m. on September 25, I've missed acknowledging the anniversary of the opening by an hour. Instead of posting on this blog at the very moment in time when Second Seating was crowded with people, I chose to spend the evening watching three episodes of Mad Man, Season 2 with Earl. Choices, choices. But, Second Seating has been on my mind of late. I guess that is what anniversaries are for. Remembering.
A year ago last Thursday evening, Second Seating opened with mariachis and speeches and was just about everything I hoped it would be. All three of my daughters were in town as were Queta and her mom and Lulu Bell.
Mixing and mingling in the crowd were the participating artists (except for Ted and Jose) and they brought their families and friends.
Funders and sponsors were there, officials, district board members, people who volunteered their time and expertise were on hand, so, so many good friends and and lots of interested folks who'd heard about the exhibition and simply 'showed up'.
Last Thursday and Friday as I worked on artist contracts for my new project and found myself in meeting after meeting, I wondered how to commemorate this particular anniversary. I thought about going to lunch with friends at Irma's and ordering the Second Seating Special. Would the staff at Irma's still remember what the lunch plate comprised?
I have reminisced about how beautiful it looked that first night and have thought about the many people who crowded the space. There was a certain electricity in the air, for me at least. For the run of the show, we scheduled a series of evening gatherings and field trips, welcoming almost 2000 people.
Some more things I remember? Moving Irma's canvas laundry bags over to the vintage linens table under the Clorox bottle chandelier, so those bursting laundry bags became part of the installation. I remember calling Carmella Rojas time and again to ask her to make just 'another three" and then just another 'four or five' filigreed Clorox bottles, so we'd have enough for that six foot tall chandelier.
The same music played day after day and I know some of the docents got really bored with the tapes, but I loved the songs and truly, I think I never tired of them because for me they spoke about the installation itself. I loved fiddling with the banquet table which was encrusted with bowls and jars and candles and fresh fruit and my sugar cathedrals and cazuelas filled with dried pinto beans and endless items I found at garage sales and The Guild Shop.
During the run of the exhibition, I even created a book on Blurb about this table called"Overheard at Second Seating" which was filled with word vignettes and images taken from the banquet table. I loved the light fixtures made with sections of Baker Hughes oil drilling pipes that sat on a a compressed ton of aluminum soda and beer cans.
I loved the thousands of oyster shells that I collected from Goode Seafood and then dried out behind the studio and which Alex washed and carted down to the space as we installed the show.
I loved Gonzo 24/7's painted patterns on the chandelier that hung over a table encrusted with silver shell dishes and goblets and messages about the destruction of our wetlands and oyster beds (and this was before the BP oil spill).
I loved Mark Ellis' ingenuity in pulling this encrusted table visually closer to its chandelier by attaching dozens of pieces of the plastic that hold six-packs together. That was brilliant. And I loved the wall of plates because of the very scale of it, right there at the entrance.
As I write, I remember more and more. It was a terrific experience to work with so many talented people: the artists, the friends who sewed on that huge 10 x 14 foot patchwork tablecloth, the carpenters, electricians and lighting folks, the graphic designers, those that worked on the data base and invitation list, the show's docents and the several folks who kept the place swept and the wine poured. We got preparations for a party or a 'gathering' down to under half an hour.
There were at least a half dozen evening 'gatherings.' I loved the gathering we did in partnership with Aerosol Warfare when Carolyn Casey made dozens of LED 'throwies' and as many as 100 people threw these tiny magnet lights on the wall of our metal building.
In retrospect, Second Seating was a labor of love from beginning to end. A series of creative acts by many, many people. Lots of time spent raising money. Lots of time spent 'asking.' 'Asking' became, perhaps, my most creative act.
Just thinking about Second Seating makes me long for another and yet another space where folks can gather, ponder and feel as if they are somewhere special, spaces that are light filled, a bit romantic, a lot nostalgic and certainly dream-making. Second Seating was all of that for me.
Thanks to every single person who made Second Seating a real place in time. Thanks to every person who crossed that threshold into the space.
After seeing these images again, I think, at long last, I'll get to that last big task on my Second Seating 'still to do' list. That task is to complete the unfinished book called "The Making of Second Seating." Begun in early 2010 with great enthusiasm, it bogged down because of problems moving 'selected photos' online to Blurb. My entire iPhoto collection was inadvertently moved onto Blurb and their 'Help' got back to me saying, "Once on, on forever." I lost heart at the thought of beginning all over again, especially since I really like the parts of the book already laid out, but it was to problematic to sort through thousands of photos in order to place one in the book. Better to start afresh.
Then, of course, I got taken up with this new project called 'lead artist on the architectural team for the Houston Permitting Center and Green Building Resource Center" which feels almost full time.
However, I feel inspired seeing Second Seating images again. "The Making of Second Seating"just made it back on my list of things to do.
Life is so full.


Kate said…
What a wonderful reflection back on the magnificence of Second Seating. Although I wasn't there for the opening on 9/24/09, it sure was great to spend time with you in Houston last October and see the exhibits in all types of weather and lighting conditions. My favorite was the showing in the evening; the lighting had a magic quality.

Wonderful memories.