Friday, February 25, 2011

I'm not a quitter...

As I sit here eating a breakfast sandwich that is oh so tastey, I am thinking about the Portland Saturday Market. Notice the bagel - its from Gabriel's Bakery here in PDX... he sells his baked goods at the PSM as well as all around town in grocery stores and whatnot. I met the baker that owns this company at the PSM years ago. He would set up a small tent down by the Burnside Bridge and sell his baked goods. My brother came home with a bag of his bagels one Saturday and we were amazed by how marvelous they were. I became an addict of his chocolate hazelnut scone, having one for breakfast every weekend. Ridiculous. We became fast friends, the baker and I (not the sweets and me) - his name is Amilcar, he is from Peru. He puts cream cheese in his cookies (1/2 butter 1/2 cheese makes them stay tall and chewy), he uses quinoa in his breads, he makes the biggest cinnamon rolls ever. Basically everything he makes is delicious. On the weekends he sells his baked goods around town at the local farmers markets and the PSM and whatever pastries and breads they have left at the end of the day is donated to the local soup kitchen. Sometimes on Sunday evenings they would leave a paper sack full of goodies in my booth as I was tearing down for the day. My freezer was always full of Gabriel's baked goods. What kind of heaven is that?!

The Portland Saturday Market has been an endless source of interesting friends in my life. I feel reflective lately, contemplating the PSM and its potential. And contemplating quitting the Portland Saturday Market. Yup. Quitting.

I have reached the point of outgrowing the market. I busy myself with shows and selling wholesale and online selling and teaching... doing the PSM every weekend is a bit much. I have to face reality. So I quantify what I get out of the market as opposed to how much it drains me.

To be honest I've been thinking about this for years. Clearly change hasn't happened fast here in the Garden of Leah. I like to stop and smell the roses, rather than rush from one thing to the next.

Its all about the people. The friends at the PSM are a crazy bunch. Its an international motley crew. Something straight out of the new show "Portlandia". Everyone has a such incredible stories, and everyone works so hard. When I think about what the PSM has meant in my life, I can't help but think about the people.

There should be a book about the PSM, portraits of the artists and stories... I would read it!

But here is what I've been thinking about lately (writing it down makes me feel nervous... accountable): I would teach classes on the weekends (for years I have only taught class during the week) and sell a Groupon for these classes. Basically it would be like selling my teaching classes wholesale. This has two appeals for me:
  1. what I make each weekend as an artist would be predictable and dependable
  2. my classes would be full
It would be a lot of classes, so I would be teaching 2 or 3 weekends a month and I would quit the PSM. The market is not a predictable income, and its very exhausting in so many ways.

I meet a lot of great people thru teaching classes, I love to pry people's stories out of them and listen to them talk about themselves. The dynamics between people is particularly fascinating to me... and there is something therapeutic about playing with fire and talking about one's self. Perhaps its my interest in psychology, perhaps its my love for people - either way - its one of my favorite parts of teaching. I like to joke that I turn everyone into kindergarteners: pink cheeks (from the flame and excitement) and big smiles and clumsy awkwardness.

Its a different crowd than the Portland Saturday Market though. I would greatly miss the people of the PSM. I know I could always go down and visit the artists down there, and hang out with them socially and whatnot... its different though when you are a vendor. The comradery of the work involved, its like a family. I have learned so much about Portland because of my involvement with the PSM. It has inspired me, enabled my growth, supported my endeavors and pushed me to use alarm clock at least once a week.

ps. I am still on the fence though, and planning to vend asap as the market reopens next weekend!


Naomi said...

I hear ya sista! I'm at a loss for typing all my thoughts, but will chat your ear off next time I see you! I love all the creative & amazing minds at PSM. I didn't realize the journey I signed on for would be so enriching.

Curly Girl Glass said...

uh... sounds to me like you've already made your decision!

Erin said...

you're not a quitter leah! you've been an asset to the market for a long time! i love the market but after many years the physical & emotional drain as vendor & artist (for me) was too much! think of leaving as moving on.. growing...

Leah said...

I have convinced myself to quit, but I haven't actually quit yet.