The door is about to open and we are ready, in our element, poised for the reveal. A brief pause and an inhale—I imagine the skeptical faces of my neighbors. This is what I have for you; will you have it? Then life arrives. The overflowing throng of every generation says, “yes! Yes, we will take it!”
The crowd was better than expected, and we had high expectations. People turned out to see over 120 artists in this show, as well as to satisfy their curiosity about the snowshoe factory it is held in, asking themselves if this is really a sensible project. Sensible or not, this is our only shot to prove our vision. It is one thing to tell the public over and over your brilliant ideas: “I promise this will work, it will be great! You’ll see!” It is a different thing to show it. I can see the surprise on people’s faces and a thrilling look in their eyes. They can see this happening here, and see themselves as a part of it. Even I, perpetually discontented with my own endeavors, am as close to satisfied as I’ve ever been.
In all, over 300 people came to this quiet little neighborhood in Western Maine. It’s a big deal for us, and I think we did a good job. We managed to balance the art with the industrial space in a way that accentuates the qualities of both, not an easy thing to do given the magnitude of the work and the space. Despite the undertaking, by the time of the opening we had somehow avoided exhausting ourselves. The feedback from the crowd was overwhelmingly positive. I got the sense that people could finally see the point of this maniacal endeavor, could see themselves being a part of it, and could finally get excited, when, before, they had watched from afar with curiosity and no doubt a bit of skepticism.
Many times smiling people approach me full of kind words, clear admiration, and support. They recognize the undertaking, the labor, the thoughtfulness, and ultimately say: “Now that you are done, now that this work is finished, will you rest? I hope you have time to relax, enjoy yourselves.” And it’s true, after a high point you have to come down. So the day after I’m depressed and aimless. I ask myself dramatic questions like: “Is this how we live? From one moment to the next, never satisfied?” Each radical emotion strives desperately until it is swept away by the next. And each arrives uninvited, unpredicted, and demanding to be welcomed. Ultimately the next guest arrives, and I rally quickly. These moods rarely last longer than a day.
As the last few people leave with the day, a pleasant coolness descends and rain moves in. The sound of it is menacing as I turn out the lights and leave reluctantly. I lie in bed unable to relax. I know the roof is leaking and I sleep fitfully.
Note: In their new home at the snowshoe factory at 10 Tannery Street in Norway, Lights Out has undertaken an art movement in Western Maine, transforming the industrial structure into a myriad of studios, a public park, and exhibition space. To learn more about Little Sparks and Lights Out, visit Lights Out’s website. To stay connected on future events and highlights, follow Lights Out @lightsoutgallery on Instagram, YouTube, and Facebook.To contribute to the effort to replace the roof and ensure the long term success of this project, please visit the gallery’s gofundme.
Image at top: Opening of Little Sparks, Lights Out Gallery, 24 August 2023 (photo: Ben Troutman).