Chasing Down The Muse: Booth lottery for Sawdust artists shakes things up

"If one advances confidently in the direction of one's dreams…one will meet with a success unexpected…."

—Henry David Thoreau


Did you see that vapor rising in the canyon last week? Well, that was pure and simple a cloud of angst pouring forth into the sky above as Sawdust artists agonized over their annual Booth Pick Day.

More than 200 artists whose numbers were picked by lottery back in February came together for the first time since the previous summer. They stood in line to pay the final installment of their booth fees and receive all the needed paperwork.

Then … the fun began!

Of course, everyone has their favorite spots picked out ahead of time and, if their number is a low one, an artist will often have just one special spot in mind. Well, all it takes is one little switch and all plans go awry.

This was one of those years when, like the proverbial dominoes, things began to fall when jeweler Earl Reid made an unexpected choice.

Quick shifts of course followed for many of the lower numbers and everyone began looking with new eyes at the options available.

Now, I happen to be one of those who think these changes are good. They make the viewers eye look more closely. And surprise is titillating, too.

To do the same thing the same way every single year makes for disinterest, in my mind. I cannot remember a year when there have been so many changes and I think it will be refreshing to the public. I hope so.

Still, the usual anxiety was heightened for some exhibitors this year as these changes took place. Add to that the fact that there were more exhibitors than spots available and you can understand that cloud of vapor of angst overhead.

Everyone did get into the show, though, one way or another. All 19 new exhibitors were able to find some place to hang their wares.

Some folks are sharing who had not planned to — generosity being one of the great things about my fellow exhibitors.

Grant Bathke walked away thinking he was not going to get the opportunity to show this year until Patricia O'Neil said, "No, no way! He is too good a painter. I'll share," and gave him a call.

A lot of very exhausted but excited folks left the grounds in late afternoon after meeting with their booth builders to discuss plans. Energy was high. The angst had lessened somewhat, but there's still all of the getting ready and anticipation and high expectation for the summer ahead.

Booths are already going up. Some will undoubtedly even be completed by the time you read this. Many artists are holed up, finishing work and pushing hard to be ready for Preview Night on June 26.

Staff, too, is gearing up for what everyone hopes will be a successful summertime Sawdust Art Festival. All are committed to making it so.

Now that the vapor cloud has dissipated somewhat, you should wander on out to the grounds and — treading carefully, of course — check out the progress. It's loud and it's busy, but, oh, the energy field it creates!

CHERRIL DOTY is an artist, writer and director of the Sawdust Studio Art Classes in Laguna Beach. Always fascinated, inspired, and titillated by the beauty and the ever-changing mysteries of life, she can be reached at or by phone at (714) 745-9973.

Copyright © 2019, Daily Pilot
EDITION: California | U.S. & World