Wednesday, February 15, 2012

WHAT A DIFFERENCE!



After that small handful of people at the National Steinbeck Center, we had a packed auditorium at San Jose State University--a welcome change! More in a moment...

First, a leisurely morning at our Carmel B & B, the Vagabond's House Inn--not inexpensive, but warmly recommended. It's a couple of blocks' stroll to the town center, a few blocks down to the beach. But choose your weather. The cold wind throughout our stay made walking less than the pleasurable experience we usually anticipate.

Thinking to enjoy the drive to San Jose as much as possible, we chose to take the Seventeen Mile Drive from Carmel up to Pacific Grove, and it turned out to be a good choice. The drive itself is magnificent. We stopped at every viewpoint and were awed by the ocean views...


It is a while since we last took this trip, and were no less awed than we had been before. The above is a cell phone picture. Just available, some actual camera pictures...







We had not spent time in Pacific Grove before, and really liked this small community, so much less cute than Carmel with its wide streets and small, modest residences. We had learned from our dinner neighbors the previous night about a fine bakery here, and made the pilgrimage to visit it--bought a couple of chocolate chip cookies for snacks, then went back to buy a ham and cheese sandwich for lunch. Found a cafe with outdoor seats in the sun and enjoyed a cup of excellent coffee to accompany our sandwich with its memorably tasty whole wheat baguette bread. Then headed up the hill to meet the freeway and start on the trip north to San Jose.

I had been told that the start time for my lecture was 4PM and left our hotel with what I thought to be ample time to make it. I did not allow for the nightmare of campus parking--a packed labyrinth of a structure where it took long enough to find a parking spot, and even longer to negotiate the "Pay Here" auto payment booth. Discovered, then, that the art building was way across campus, and arrived there just barely on time at 4PM, all in a sweat and out of breath, thinking that I'd have to get started right away. Was surprised and relieved that the 4PM time I'd been given was simply to allow good time for arrival and preparation, and that the lecture was not actually scheduled to begin until 5PM...

Arriving in good time at the 70-seat auditorium, I started to worry that it was going to be too big. No need for concern. At five minutes to, the students started to arrive. By five o'clock, every seat was filled and an overflow crowd spilled over into the aisles and the back of the hall. I'd guess there must have been close to a hundred there, by the time I got started with my talk, "Persistence: Your Most Powerful Creative Tool." (It was a special pleasure, by the way, to have Ted Orland and his wife out there in the audience. Ted is the co-author of the excellent book, Art & Fear--widely read and much appreciated by artists everywhere. We have much in common in the way we think about art, artists and the art world, and this was the first time I have had the pleasure of actually meeting him.)

Up there on the stage, it's not hard to gauge the response of the audience as I'm talking. This one seemed to be a good mix of the very young undergraduate students and more mature men and women returning to college to find a new direction, or reconnect with lost paths, and it was not long before I had the great feeling that I was connecting with them. When that starts to happen, the initial nervousness disappears and I find myself in the comfortable and rewarding flow. A good test of success is the quality of questions at the end, and I was gratified to have some thoughtful, responsive questions, entirely appropriate to what I had been talking about. A bonus: the wonderful personal thanks at the end, as people began to leave; and a good number interested in buying one of my books--or both of them. It was a wonderful reminder of the kind of reward I get from such events, when they go well.

Three members of the SJSU art faculty hosted us for dinner at the local Il Fornaio, and we had a great, convivial evening with good food and wine, and even better conversation. No question at all, one of the best ways to spend an evening is in the company of artists!

1 comment:

gregg chadwick said...

Sounds wonderful Peter! Glad that the students and faculty turned out in large numbers at San Jose State.
Wish I could have been there. Glad that you had a chance to meet Ted Orland. Art and Fear is an important book. Safe travels.