The show took a long time to judge and included a wide range of art from professional to youth. When he was done judging the show he drove all the way home so he could spend a little time with his family before returning to an opening event.Then we all piled into the car and drove back out there.
This particular show was unlike anything he had experienced before because they asked him to speak. If you have ever judged a show you can imagine that people run the full spectrum of being happy that they had won to hurt or upset that they did not place. Eric was not exactly sure what to expect from the crowd.
He was introduced to the surprisingly large audience and gave a little talk where he mentioned that he is only one person and that judging is often quite subjective with shows like this, where the guidelines are pretty loose. He encouraged all of the artists to keep creating, not to let his opinion stop them from making art. It was all very inspiring.
Then, the most unusual part happened, the artists all took turns leading him through the show to their pieces and he was asked to critique their work, explaining where their work was strong and where they could improve. It was pretty crazy to see how many people were bold enough to approach and ask him to explain his process and to give them personal feedback! That must have been intimidating!!! Seriously though, Eric discussed nearly every piece in the show...there were well over a hundred pieces.The crowd mingled, the girls and I socialized as Eric worked and worked.
Honestly this show was filled with a lot of artists who were very inexperienced, but Eric gave them each his attention and respect. I have been on the other side of this when a well-respected professional was rude and/or didn't even talk with me, so this was a great opportunity for growth in these artists. At one point Eric explained how cameras work to an aspiring photographer...like he went into detail about aperture and f-stop. I kept observing from a distance and I felt so happy that I am married to such a kind man.
Then, the best part of the night happened! A young girl of 13, who had won first place in youth painting with her watercolor portrait, and her mother approached Eric. I was seated nearby for a perfect view of the encounter. Eric congratulated her and went over the details of her work, noting her strengths. He really encouraged her, but with specifics. He gave her a few tips to help her grow and was so encouraging. I could see what it meant to her mother, who was glowing with pride. The girl was nervous and shy with so many adults talking to her, but you could see how powerful the experience was, I am certain this will stick with her for a lifetime...regardless of what she goes on to do with her life. I know what something like that would have meant to my thirteen year old self.
Anyway, after a long day, and after all of the artists had talked with Eric we headed home. We were all beyond exhausted, as it has been such a long week, but we were all so happy. The sun was glowing golden in the Wyoming sky, the girls were singing along with the music and my husband was contented after what was, I am sure, a very exhausting day. It was good.