I Never Read Either…..A Love Story Leads to a Book Fair

-basel #4

HALT sign

Before I write on I Never Read, the book fair itself, a short departure which tells of  the passion that created  and continues to drive this extraordinary book fair.

INR Faces 7

It would be simple to write a sweet story of Evaline Wuthrich and Johannis Willi.  Thomas Keller, while not one in part  of their love story is the third essential person in the love story of the I Never Read fair.

It is easy to struggle for written words to describe their passion, energy and devotion found on their faces, in their actions and in the people that surround them building, creating, tirelessly available  and selling to make I Never Read beautifully unique.

Let’s look at the beginning of their press release as it presents I Never Read.

Read…. differently.

In June 2013 the book fair I Never Read, Art Book Fair Basel will take place for the second time. The fair focusses exclusively on print media, hereby distinguishing itself from other fairs and events surrounding Art Basel. Publishers, book sellers, artists and printers will exhibit their unique publication programs to an international audience, showing and selling pieces ranging from artist books, catalogues, monographies and journals through to zines. Thanks to guest appearances at “The NY Art Book Fair” in New York and “The LA Art Book Fair” in Los Angeles the I Never Read-Team has been able to broadly establish it’s fair within the past year, resulting in rising interest of participation. This year, over 80 participants from 20 different countries will take part in the show.

But how it and they started isn’t there.  When I asked Evaline and Johannes about their beginning their answer made me smile as I looked around at the set-up and the faces of everyone in the bare room.

We sat on the edge of the stage in a main room of Volkshaus.  The venue a carefully selected location only minutes away from Art B’ah’sel.  Unlike that fair the only thing separating the artists were the edges of wooden tables that seemed as if they were off the same assembly line in one run of inventory.  Resembling  a communal restaurant, this one for savoring publications.  Folding chairs were set up behind each table, two, sometimes three.  This main room of Volkshaus at one time was a radio station which explained the booth now used for performances and announcements and the padded walls hiding repurposed storage space.

setup tables early

Evaline looks as if she could be the director and producer, perhaps the writer as well for an art school documentary project.  A subtle sweet smile with focused eyes, knees up supporting a mac.  Johannes, while talking to you with a little more with 360 vision but not the double cheek kiss kind is making sure that each piece and person in the room was coming together.  He could  would fit right in at a local race where his friends would be able to pick him out by his colorful shorts.  When she is off the mac and he is off patrol it’s easy to see them as the binding of the book fair.

johannes and evelyn

Thomas, topped with a hat or baseball cap turned not quite backwards has a smile that takes up most of his face when he is not concerned about something.

thomas keller

I was prepared to ask Evaline and Johannes the back story of I Never Read.  Although, I met Johannes for the first time at the NY Art Book Fair last year where I chatted with him when I passed his table  I didn’t quite understand what he was doing.   He basically asked me why I was there and then asked  for any zines that he would be happy to take back to his home town of Basel to show at his fair during Art Basel week.  I shared that with Billy and returned with samples from his  collection and made our contribution.

Johannes seemed like a nice guy and the drive to get your art out in the “zine”isphere trumps the need to put too much research and focus on the distribution channels.  Several months later we met Johannes again as he had the zine table just opposite us at the LA Art Book Fair.  I had less conversation with him there than the one time chat in NY even though our tables were faced opposite each other.  On the last day there was a bit more dialogue between Billy and Johannes.  A few months later Billy received his email inviting us to show at the 2nd I Never Read Fair in Basel.

johannes side image

My English with traces of the places I have lived even though never out of the USA probably seemed more broken to Evaline and Johannes than their’s seemed to me. I had no prepared questions.

“So, how did you get this thing going?”  They looked at each other with an expression which  betrayed their disagreement on a shared version.

INR-Johannes Go Team

“Well, me met at a bar or something and she had this idea which I actually had before and then we thought how great to do it together and here we are!”

The smiles and a few chuckling mumbled words as they leaned into each other were not scripted even though they have probably been asked this many times before.  For a moment it feels as though you are the bartender watching this first encounter.

Johannes continued. “Actually, we know each other a very long time.  Back to high school But I was too cool for her and she was too cool for me so we never really spoke.”  He looked around the room, his arm not totally around her shoulders.  “And now we are really cool together. Totally cool.”

I looked around.  The tables were filling.  Wheels on suitcases sliding across the floor.  A little hammering here and there.  Tape bing torn by teeth, a very different sound than ducktape.   Staplers. Some loud impulsive exclamations during set-up crisis.  Borrowing this or that.  Grabbing an idea or giving one from next to you or behind you.  A careless bump into a box.

All of this going-on making the soundtrack of the this fair conducted and improvised by these art book artists and publishers, many of which have day jobs and several who are staying with friends or at bnbs well outside the $15.00 sandwich zone.  And while the languages were as varied as one would expect in an international art fair it was  the language of making art easily understood and easily communicated.

thomas with cap

Thomas was lining up the tables.  They were raw and beautiful.  Not attached by screws but pegs that kept them fastened and would make storage, set-up and breakdown efficient.  These were not rushed. In another room near the front entrance were bookshelves and cases.

Astonished and presumptive I asked him where he got them.

“Get them?  Like buy them in a store?  Oh, we didn’t get these anywhere.  We make these.  My father and me.”  He brushed some invisible dust off of one of the table tops as if he was cleaning  crumbs off an infant’s  chin.

“You made them?”

“Yes, yes.  You like them?  45 of them. Come look.”  He showed me how they were fastened.  How they collapsed and how they would be stacked. “My dad and me.  We make maybe two  a week.  But I’m very upset because it rained the day we needed to carry  many to our storage place and now with this, uhm, hmm, heat, you know like the damp weather,”  I sensed  that he that felt that he was not explaining what he meant. He used his hand to explain further,

“Warp?” I asked or stated

“Yes, yes, wvarp.”  He ran his hands across the wood  almost as if he was performing pilates on it.

In my mind it was easy to see his father and him struggling against time and weather.  Working together.  A dad giving his son’s dream some focus calming the anxieties of his youthful drive and passion. I met his dad on the last day along with Thomas’ girlfriend who was breaking down the tables using a hammer type of tool moving from one table to another as his father stacked wood.  This was the I Never Read book fair creation.

After that, I realized that the best way to tell the story of I Never Read is best told through the images of energy and passion of the I Never Read artists, the helpers and the helpers of the helpers with their sons and daughters and friends and friends of friends.

Putting it together.

artist prep inr 1

art unpack

inr artist setup 2

inr art set up 6

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breaking down table

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DSC_0164

DSC_0155

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INR setup artists with cartons

inr setup4And so the love story while it may include or even started with lovers at one time too cool for each other and friends the true love story is the love of artists and artists making books.  Giving them space ,voice, community and belief.

How cool is that?

next up.  the artists and the art

From Please Touch to Don’t Even Think of Touching… hello b’AH’sel

-basel #3

INR White Banners

kid with rainbow zine on floor

art basel courtyard

basel entry ceiling 

Note:  B’ah’sel for the purpose of this blog series always refers to “the main fair at Art Basel.”

Additionally, I changed my intention and will not chronicle day by day, booth by booth, genre by genre, period by period, available or not available, opinions on where an artist is taking their work artistically, who are the rising galleries to watch, why and what collector bought what for what reason, where to be seen and where not to be seen, who to see and who to miss, where to be and where not to be, and which are the coveted invitations?

I leave this to those with press passes hanging from chains around their necks, curator ID’s flashed from wallets and whatever else authenticates opinions.  Those that are far more experienced and diligent than me or have had  credentials bestowed upon them for reasons or no reasons.

Given this is art focused I take liberty to perhaps use terms inappropriatly. I decided that I am an impressionist and an abstract writer.  I write more like Jackson Pollack paints not Vincent VanGogh.  Documenting and rendering things for me is just getting words out of my brain.

While identifying my days and relevant experiences of my time here the tales will come from an eyewitness to contrast. Highlighting the people not being covered by anyone tethered to the floor plan of B’ah’sel or everything going on inside the electric fence protecting the ego of the privileged from those on the other side.

We were set up and now at I Never Read and it was the only time to make our visit to B’ah’sel.  Starting at 6PM tonight and for the next three and half days if either of us were not at our table there would be no one to show Billy’s work.

setuptable

We were now headed about six blocks from the passion driven art fair to the price driven one. For us, sorry Chelsea, B’ah’sel was a satellite fair.

One question asked two ways with only a subtle variation of one noun drives the selling intensity and attitudes at B’ah’sel or for that matter the other ‘significant’ fairs including the Armory in NY and Art Basel Miami.

“Where is the artist work going?”  “Where is the artwork going?

While sounding similar perhaps the same to some depending on how each is answered can make careers, millionaires and put images into history books.

Simply said,  1. what is the artist making and planning to make?

2. most important, who is buying it aka where is it being placed?

Unless, you are one of those “real collectors” who came through two days before the fair opened as one gallerist hound told me as she sniffed my potential you might as well as come off a cruise ship.  No doubt she already decided from my shorts, t-shirt and cheap faded red canvas shoes that I’d best be off to Ikea to buy a print.

I love this and am offended by it at the same time.  What she did not know was that I already owned a piece from the artist she was sold out of.  My t-shirt came from a Guggenheim exhibit that in-the-knows traveled from around the world to see.  (I only came from San Francisco). It had no logo, just a simple sketch of the installation blueprint on it.  To her it might have just as well said Hard Rock Some City.

The shoes?  They came from the vendor just outside of the tenement from where my mom had grown up in the lower east side.  She had died recently and I wanted to visit this place down the block from Whole Foods which had now stood on the ground where some remade shtetl village shops probably stood which is a good idea maybe for an Art Basel installation next year..

The shoes were $9 and sold to me by the grandson of the immigrant shopkeeper who worked there when my mom played in the streets and my grandmother probably yelled “Ruchel” out the window telling her it was time to set the table.  For me the comfort they provided was far greater than any of the ones on the Prada parade going on in around me.

The gallerist with her double definition plastic smile had no idea of this. No interest.  So, I showed mine intentionally.

“How’s the fair going for you, “ I asked.

Totally not wanting to talk even though I was the only one in the booth except for one woman talking on her cell phone not quite in or out of the booth  probably checking on her little moppy type of dog back at the hotel doggy daycare.  The “dealer”  replied with “Well the real collectors all came through already.”

Since I knew of the 115 private jets flying in on Sunday carrying representatives from the wealthiest 1% in the world, maybe with their consultants, I continued with,  “Wow, that must’ve been crazy since the fair is only open for an hour!”

She hmphed somewhere from inside her neck which was mismatched with the lack of wrinkles on her face even though she was maybe 20 years younger than me.  “Oh. Not today, today is for the public.”

So, my story on B’ah’sel is not about the art hanging on the walls, hanging from the ceiling, sticking up from the floor, locked in showcases, playing on video, installations mimicking rooftops and storefronts, concrete piles.

I loved and engaged with a lot of it.

It is not about what’s cutting edge. It’s not about the art “in your face” as much as for me it is the art “in the faces.”   Everyone squeezing through the mazes crowded with  the “open-to-the public” types.  This is the “art” that blew me away.  The contrast in culture.  The profiling. The assumptions. The attitudes. The selected who can buy or who cannot buy because of who they are or who they are not.  It is a performance of contrasts and metaphors and I soaked in it, participated in it and played with it while getting angry at it, humbled by it and “excitigusted” by it.

is it art-balloon

is it art-jacket

is it art-holding up

I am sure the folks peering over the top of their bifocals at stripes never before painted “this way”did not find the time to mingle with the folks 10 minutes away on Saturday at the flea market in the park where “the public” rummaged for their ‘find’ through socks and lunch boxes for their kids from vendors selling from blankets on the grass to wobbly tables supporting used dishes and silverware.

basel flea market 1

A suggestion I would have to the B’ah’sel architects is to use the city planners of the city, Basel.  If the event was planned the same way pedestrians, cyclists and trams navigate seamlessly though-out the city and integrated with each other then maybe the crashing into people, the squeezing through out of synch floor plans on pamphlets with floor plans on feet could be avoided.

I saw contrast everywhere.

If I were recognizable,  wearing shorts would be fine.  Sellers looking for a bulge in my pocket not being of the erotic kind.  Maybe if I had tattoos where the storytelling continued on my nicely trained and toned arms out from below the cuff of my D&G black crew neck shirt would get buying potential attention.  Maybe if I was traveling with a translator.

is it art-cement

it is art-hanging indian

It is also sad in a way are some of those that surround the artist think they have the right to be the artist or worse yet interpret the artist success as their own.

I like art.  I even buy some when I can. I’ve been lucky to acquire some works at a time when it was easy to  talk with the artist at their group shows.  The emerging artist world is a small community and when the few do emerge they don’t forget you and find it refreshing when you say hello to them with no agenda.

I introduced myself  differently than from in my earlier emails.  A big so-what expression responded.  I asked about the current work.

She replied not surprisingly.  I told her that I try and buy work by this artist.  This is where I get offended and hold back spontaneous words  following her  “Oh, many people say they are collectors of this work but it is very hard to get” probably thinking that what I had was a Xerox copy of something.

It is important to know that the art world in this context especially  is driven by supply and demand of an artist.  However, what I find not typical  in the usual model of supply and demand found in basic consumer transactions where lower supply means higher price here  I see the lower supply means  higher  attitude.  Availability is not given to the first in line but to those  and who may actually be “selected” or “should” by the work pushing  demand even higher.  B’ah’sel

This is what I mean about assuming success or assuming the brand of someone or something else.  I learned this when I started my professional career.  Having the good fortune to “sell” for iconic brands I was always reminded that I was not the brand.  Once through the doors that the brand name opened I had the privilege but more importantly the responsibility and humility to represent my company  well and make the passion contagious.

Unless you ARE the artist, you are NOT the artist.  The way I look at things is that there is nothing that I must have that makes me want to fund the attitude of a seller. I since learned the preferred name of art dealer is gallerist.  It’s not even a word in spell-check.

While I was standing up and eating my $20 cheese sandwich watching the panorama around me suddenly I chuckled to no one as I had my epiphany for the day.

The reason people in these situations kiss once on one cheek and then on the other is that each time they look over the person’s shoulder it is so they can see who is coming down the hallway behind them .  Kissing each cheek doubles this opportunity.

Don’t get me wrong.  I had fun but after two hours navigating Halls 1.0, 2.0, 2.1 and A-1-20-Z1-20 cubicles, the side installations, stairways and going in what I thought was the right direction, the art was becoming white noise.  The crowds increasingly unaware of the etiquette of people traffic flow with head on preoccupied cell phone conversation collisions and swinging backs packs like airbags in my chest from gawkers stopping short in front of me had become enough.

is it art-rag

isit art-green

is it art-sushi phones

It was nearing 4PM.  We wanted to see Max speak from Printed Matter (side story to follow).  At 6PM we needed to be back at I Never Read for our showtime where it didn’t matter if you were public or not, just as long as you come.  But it was not on the agenda of the crowd I was engulfed in and “being seen” did not include being seen at the I Never Read Fair.  Not quite a 10 minute pleasant walk away this was way to far for this population even though by 6PM, mostly everyone here would be clinking glasses from their hotels or bistros much further away than the fair we came to Basel to participate in.

My companion in the bus back after B”ah’sel summed up the experience best.

art critic dog 2

Is it art of the day?

robot mower

No, it’s the robot grass mower at bnb sevgelhof.

next up: Opening Night at I Never Read

austeller

exhibitorINR-flagineverread sign

Each device I own had it’s own idea of what time it was. The best indicator, a dark plum purple colored quiet sky outside windows that could be used in swiss tourism posters.  For a moment I wondered if they were open or closed feeling the ghost of a subtle breeze waltz over me.

It was too late for pedestrians and too early for birds. Billy was sleeping.  He is always on artist time making it easier for me to assume ‘around-the-time’ it is during the midweek work nights but during my current not remembered jet-lagged catatonic dream paralysis I was oblivious to movement. His sleeping presence now was not an accurate indicator.

I fumbled for the mac.  A quick search for “current time in basel.”  2:59 AM.  I had already slept 8 hours. “Now what?”  I thought as I tossed and turned in a state of conflicting logic between the state of crossing times zones and countries not having slept in a horizontal position in two days with knowing I should get more sleep even if just to bank it for later.

Birds. Shadows of trees instead of darkness out the window. 5:05 AM. No conflict now.  I was up!  I assumed since Basel is a storybook looking town that a sunrise walk to find coffee would fit in with the whole Heidi and seeing Julie Andrews twirl in a valley thing. Following a short whisper to billy and slowly winding  down the massive  staircase wandering how they bent that thick wood on the railing, I was mindful of the  creaking floorboards that were more historic than scary.  A turn of a solid sounding lock. A push of Gulliver sized doors.

I was on a street dark and empty but not enough to be eerie.

(bnb sevorgelhof)

bnb sevgelhof

sevogelhof side

Although she was in Austria it’s close enough for me to wonder where Maria Von Trapp would get her husband coffee so early in the morning in 2013.  I became increasingly pessimistic as I walked past locked storefronts and folded chairs under closed cafe umbrellas squinting in through dew covered windows at spotlessly clean espresso machines.  While the sleep, the unpacked bags, the chill, the smells and newness around me gave me enough caffeine lift to keep walking I wanted the aroma and the routine first taste of my morning,

Then I heard the first unnatural beautiful sound.  It was the screech of a standup chalk board menu or a cafe chair being dragged out on the pavement outside a bakery.  I imagine it is the same thrilling sound that causes someone to yell out “This way, over here!” in anxious situations.   I felt captive of a too-early morning thinking this could be the future as I walked alone down the empty strasse, It seemed curious to me that there hadn’t been an ex-pat venture called Basel Bagels.

During the walk back my hand gently hugged the small cup of espresso gently swirling it knowing that after this trip I should just switch to tea.

Breakfast at 8 at the BnB was better than I imagined.  While the  breads, cakes,  jellies and fruit  had more care  in presentation than in baking, the setting put the beginning of the Basel stay in motion.

coffee?tea?gardenview?

garden.bnb sevolgelhof

Along with the staircase, over-sized bedroom, stacked bookshelves in hallways. an intimate enough shared bathroom down the hallway and passing greetings in multiple languages the owners Richard and Anne could not make you feel more welcome.  More about bnb sevogelhof sprinkled through the entries.

Three things to do today with ideas in between and navigating how get around.

1. Find our space and set up  at I Never Read at Volkshaus Basel on Rebgasse 12-14.

2. Do a quick tour however possible that would be of  the main fair which I now call Art B’ah’sel.

3. Opening of I Never Read starts at 6 PM. We exhibit until 10.

Also,  figure out vegetarian food options on the  streets lined with signs touting schnitzel,  wurst and brust in their names.

In this piece, “austeller,” we focus in #1.

The story of the I Never Read Fair is  a product of a love story that may fit in perfectly to one’s fairy tale perception of Switzerland before the banking and the inflated prices.

The love story of Johannes and Evaline is an updated tale and relevant to the evolution of the “new art book artist.”  They are probably called the curators but these two also sweep the floors, walk around with duct tape and can be seen from the corner of every eye.  They  provide answers to questions that made me wonder if part time jobs included narration in audio travel language programs.

Look for  a side story on this coming soon.

johannes.ev.2

As private cars, chaueffeurs and jets transported work, curators, gallerists, managers, PR people, artist support staff, builders and security folks throughout Basel to get to Art B’ah’sel ours was a simpler more organic process. Today, a more common term is DIY.  We had a map. A “mobility” pass from Anne and Richard which allowed us on the trams, a bungee cord and suitcases with wheels.  We also had each other.

I am not an art critic.  I am way too impressionable, fickle and moved by visual than technique.  I’m also very affected by the people who sell to me, try to sell to me, assume what I am or am not.  Sometimes, I feel a similarity to the real estate business when the profiling makes me wonder if neighbors are looking from their windows behind slightly creased lace curtains or there is just one extra lock on too many front doors  on a block as agents suggest them as “finds.”  .  The irony is now when the gays and artists move into “questionable” hoods it’s called gentrification.

So, my story is not so much about “the art” review but the cultures and their differences I experience.  This is the story or actually in some way the “performance” art that strikes me this week.  The passions.  The determinations.  The drive. The experience and the inexperience.  The decisions. The spectrum of attitudes. The buyers. The sellers. The collectors. The artists. The art.

Hopefully, contrasting photos from time to time will illustrate better than multiple late night struggles with edits on narrative.

Take a moment with the images.  Sense them and while you may be far away from Switzerland, I hope these images bring you along with us.

(Getting to I Never Read Art Book Fair)

tram to inr

art.transfer3

inr main entry

inr setup3

INR

(Getting to Art B’ah’sel)

bmw service

art basel entry

So, that’s enough to give you a sense  of B’ah’sel  for this moment.  Now, come along and set up with us at I Never Read just a few blocks away although maybe out of the boundaries of the “dahlings at B’ah’sel.

.setup tables earlyset-up funiture 1art unpack

INR b earlysetupart setup.clean tableinr art setup restock

Ready…..set……and “go” at 6PM.

setuptable

And remember what I said about the artist as creator, publisher, shlepper and seller?  Meet some of these special folks and catch the passion.

inr art set up 6 inr setup teamworkinr art setup restock   artist prep inr 1inr artist setup3 inr setup2  inr setup4girl transaction   lucas and zinethomas keller

And we take the energy from here and go to the second part of our day.  Coming soon, basil #3.

Oh, image of he day: A jewelry store in center city, Basil. Not art!

christ uhren schmuck

I’m Not Talking About the Herb

art travel

While the smells and aroma of basil are commonplace in my home I’m writing this week about the town in Switzerland.

Once a year  this Basel plays host to the largest international art fair in the world. I think it is pronounced “B’ah’sel” in the same way people say “dahling”  or maybe because of all the “ahhing” that goes on.  It has been said that over 100 private jets land in Zurich the Sunday before the fair opens to “the public.”

We start our physical journey to the land of chocolate, cheese and art.  Billy’s journey has been longer.  Switching his detour from the rush hour freeway and conference rooms to the back -of-an-apartment studio he has spent the past few years thinking, creating and making his art magic happen.

This is not the art for going over a plastic slip- covered sofa.   His work is a collection of personal and well thought out  self produced artist books ranging in size and presentation from pocket zines of hued variations of rainbows that one can flip, fold, stretch or even “slinky”  to  larger format zines researched  created with self crafted images and collaged pages.  These works inspire readers to think through subjects through parody and presentation from extinct birds (Birds of America, 2010) to the gifts of plants (Owed to Plants, 2012) and even, yes “queer mythological gods” (The Gods Sure Are Queer, 2011)

Including exhibiting on small fold up tables in back rooms of exhibit halls to artbook fairs at PS1 in NY and MOCA in LA we head to Billy’s first international exhibit at http://www.ineverread.com, a satellite fair in a venue devoted to artists books during Art Basel week.

While I expect the core demo at the main fair to be well groomed in attitude and expression with double-cheek kissing gallerists and consultants in well curated slots profiling each passerby I anticipate the spaces at our fair to be manned, sold and built by the artist who created their work, produced their work, shlepped their work in suitcases and will demonstrate and sell by themselves.  Maybe they don’t have the best selling skills but they have passion and hunger.  Often they are a team of one from conception to creation to selling.  Maybe a plus 1 comes along and  helps carry an extra box or tape a sign to the wall.   Support. Love. Pride.  Maybe they get the hotel reservations or make sure there’s change for transactions.  Iced-tea.  Knowing how to make suggestions without trespassing.

So, the journey begins and like any other travel which I do too often well thought out time saving preparations still come down to the last minute.  Anyone who travels need not be reminded of those joys.

We did a dress rehearsal of the “shlep.”  I would take two suitcases, a parcel and a carry-on backpack. Navigating comfortably through questions at customs is just like a sales call for me.  Plus, I had a morning head-start.  For not the most important reasons we were traveling separately.

If every experience through the airport was like the one in the morning, travel would be something to actually look forward to.  Delta welcomed me with smiles and a surprises.  Three bags checked no charge all the way through (Detroit connection) and a “tease” upgrade. Only on the domestic leg.  Moving on after a quick stop to the Sky Club lounge where I realized I should eat much more Cheerios than I do now my new TSA PRE card gets me quickly through security.

After I figured out the series of icons on my seat I was in a reclining position with coffee and desk space all set up.    Typically stressed when a no wifi alert would come up at other times today it was a pleasant welcome. Despite the furrowed brow on the flight attendants face I sent my last notes.  One to the office, “signing off…on vacation” and one to Billy, “no wifi, c u in frankfurt, outside of United customs. proud of you. xo.”

The switch to a cramped window seat from Detroit to Frankfurt reminded me how fortunate it was to have the baggage checked.  As it was I began to feel bow-legged with the backpack between my legs allowing me to stretch out the growing tingle in my foot and hoping that the Ativan would relax me enough to pretend I was sleeping. The Carravagio biography which I saved specifically for this trip along with a commitment to being on “vacation” would be the only things  filling up all the space in my back pack normally reserved for work-still-to-do demands.

Sleep on a plane is more like a series of trances leaving you too foggy to comprehend a documentary or too lazy to do anything meaningful. It’s best to accept the fact you are moving through time and space or in some cases up and down from sky to ground. Everything was starting to look like art!

art sky fisheye

Touchdown brought a smile to a sleep-sweaty tired face.  The anxieties ahead were simple but relevant.  I wanted to see all three bags come down the chute and find my way to the other international arrivals terminal.  There are two in Frankfurt and of course I was coming into 2 and Billy was coming into 1.

And an added anxiety as his plane was delayed.  With no further complications we would have about an hour to find a train in a station in an airport in a language we were both unfamiliar with.  Customs was  a breeze and informative. I learned my name is German and was questioned if I was related to one of the airport executives. I wanted to say yes but the service was already very good.

frankfurt window

Green bag, the largest struggled a bit in it’s slide down the chute.  Grey bag had more finesse.  Parcel either wedged somewhere or saved for last.  Only when it was time to worry did I think it might have gone to oversize.  Good call as I headed to “bulky” baggage and claimed the orphaned box.

Happy I brought a bungee cord at the last  minute I was off to terminal 1 to retrieve the artist.  Two hours.  Coffee!  Even if I could not speak German it would be easy to animate the request. Intuitive or too exhausted to be mindful my shlep was in motion to the “other” terminal.  Finding coffee was easy,  exceptional actually as I thought maybe the selection was called ahead. When I realized Gross means large in German I was thrilled that I wasn’t born into a Klein family.

gross coffee

Parked myself with coffee in a seat after figuring out which exit door Billy would come though in an hour and a half.  10:58, train at 11:53.  Customs. Baggage. Two tired guys shlepping an art show.

11:15…16..17.  Shifting my gaze as I was now too tired to turn my head I went from sign to sign.  “Landed” on one which was easy to understand to another  which all I could understand was 11:53.  Happy I had an iced tea and something German for Billy to snack on.  I knew we’d have no time for anything but an airport sprint.

One person told me if we ran we could do it ten minutes pointing to an escalator and then upwards out the window to a walk bridge and then from what I could tell his motions indicated an escalator down, a turn right and a long walk forward.  Back looking at the non-swinging customs exit doors I asked  one of the guys holding a sign with a name written in black Sharpie.  He basically shook his  head as an answer.  We were standing under the clock…11:34.

train departures

After eleven years the nudge from behind was familiar and comforting.  There was no time for it to be surprising. I wasn’t  told about the “other” infrequently used door around the corner.  Quick hug and a “gotta run, we have 12 minutes.”  Billy, while sometimes questioning my facts and memory  has learned in circumstances like this to follow my lead.

7 bags. two very tired guys navigating up and down and sometimes flat moving ground we were  weaving in between people sounding like my grandmother when the only thing I could understand was her tone of voice.  We followed unfamiliar  arrows next to unfamiliar but somehow recognizable information and down a longer than 10 minute corridor.

For those unfamiliar with my partnership.  I stay frantic but optimistic.  Billy stays calm. It works.

b infinite jest train

We were on our final stretch. While it may have looked like familiar scenery from Sonoma or so many other places we’ve been…

frankfurt to basel.db train

when we arrived, two and a half hours later…

welcome to basel

free n easy commute basel

we knew we were at our destination city, Basel!

A quick stop at bnb sevogelhof  http://www.sevogelhof.ch/english/index.html, a convenient home for the next five nights followed by a too quick decision to visit our friends Andrew and Shawn from Thinkspace Gallery-LA at Scope Basel.  Another art fair that attaches its show schedules to the calendars of  the big international fairs (Basel, Basel Miami, Armory NY). Thus, taking on the label, “satellite” fair.

Hunger and exhaustion were let out of  my cages attacking patience, energy and the  impulsive “we’re in a basel go-go mood.”  Scope was just far enough to be annoying and the entry was a backtrack along a fenced in rail track which changed my annoyance into whining apathy. Harder and harder to see and enagage through the thickening veil of exhaustion we spent little time at Scope. Enough to visit with Andrew and Shawn and see their work.

Back on Tram 14 at 5PM I was surrendering to a “dribble “nap .  The untamed nap where the head suddenly collapses down and maybe tilts to one side while the mouth hangs open.

Back at sevogelhof after stopping two stops short of where we could have.

So, almost as in Good Night Moon, I say “Goodnight, Delta, goodnight Detroit, goodnight Frankfurt, good-night race-through airport, goodnight train to Basel, good-night having to pee while the woman next to me in coach snored, goodnight  Scope, goodnight dribble nap, goodnight feeling like shit!”

Hello, Billy. Hello, Basel

I remember starting to lay my head on the pillow but I don’t remember it ever touching

And while it is not in a gallery or fair or on a wall or in a museum, the following image certainly can stir a reaction. Like I started, everyting is art when in Basel this week,

camel smoking