And it started with a dress….

Like most things in my life, it started with a dress. I saw a dress on Etsy in May of 2012 when I was listing images and I fell in love. And for once, I hesitated purchasing it because it was so beautiful. I mean it is princess-worthy beautiful. I messaged the shop owner (twice), I talked to my friends, I fanaticized about where I would wear it…and then a week later, I caved and bought it. When it arrived, I tried it on and spun around in front of the mirror for a while, and then started day dreaming about it. I had recently been invited to be on “Show Me St Louis” and toyed with the idea wearing it there, but it wasn’t “right” for daytime news. This dress screams flowers, champagne, and fun. It screams “gallery event.” So I put it in the closet and waited and started dreaming about having a show. My friend Andrea and I talked about it doing one in January 2013 after the Lyric Project wrapped up. But that didn’t happen, and so the dress stayed in the closet.

In May of this year, I met Maria Gianino from Webster House Galleries who had just opened a side-by-side space in Webster Groves. Maria liked a three-piece series I did on angels and they were placed in the main house. I was on cloud nine, but I still was dreaming of my own show. I talked to Andrea some more and told her how cool the gallery space was and that we should consider having the show there. And that was as far as I got. Then in early August, during the most boring part of my long drive back from vacation, Maria called me and said she was thinking about doing a photography exhibit for 5 or so photographers and asked if I would be interested. Would I?!? I honestly don’t know how I didn’t scream “YES!” in her ear and managed to stay at all professional as we finished the conversation. I hung up and started calling people – my mom, my best friend, anyone I could think of that would pick up on a Saturday afternoon and listen to me babble about “a show!”

Maria scheduled the exhibit to open on September 6, which gave me exactly a month to figure out what pieces I wanted to use and to frame them. For the first week I was too giddy to really think or focus about any details, plus I was still finishing up my Press bags for the GBK pre-Emmys gifting lounge that I was part of through The Artisan Group, so things were pushed off as I “thought about what to show.” The exhibit was titled “Limited Edition Photography” – so I wanted to use this opportunity to display some of my work that hadn’t been seen, but also to showcase some of my pieces from the Lyric Project, as well as some of my pictures that are shown in other venues. That’s when I started to panic. HOW was I going to get all of this done in 3 weeks? I have a full time job, my kids were getting ready to go back to school and are busy with activities, and well, I couldn’t decide. I couldn’t decide on images. Or frames. Or mats. Or anything. Except the dress; I knew exactly what I was going to wear, and I started to calm down and get to work. Andrea sent out a press release, I sent out emails and facebook invites, and I tracked my progress on Instagram with photos of the backs of the pieces when I hit milestones – one done, eight done, then finally all 18. Yes, 18 pieces of my work on display in a gallery. And that’s when I started to full on freak out. Thankfully my best friend was in town visiting me the week before the opening, and since he wouldn’t be here for it, he was going to get a sneak preview. After I finished framing the last one, I laid everything out on the floor of my workspace and sat with my head in my hands mumbling “Do they look alright? Do they work together? ARE THEY PRETTY? What am I doing?!” while he very calmly rearranged them and pointed out all the things that I’d thought in my head and was hoping would come across in the work: “No, those really need to be grouped together” and “these need to be a set away from everything else”  and then he asked me why I was so nervous. All I could say was “What if no one shows up? Or worse, what if half of the people who say they are going to show up actually do?! What if I disappoint everyone or waste their time?” And that’s when he told me, “Relax, you’ve done beautiful work. It’s all done. Just enjoy the moment.”

The morning of the opening, my personal facebook status read “Question everything but the dress. You can question everything, but *not* the dress.” And that’s when I remembered what this was really about: a dream I’d had for so long was finally here. So I went out and bought myself a vase of white roses, a bottle (or two) of champagne, and started to get ready to wear the dress that had sat in my closet for 16 long months. That evening, friends from church, school, book club, and all the various parts of my life came out to support me in a way that I can only describe as truly humbling. We hung out together, talked, laughed, and drank champagne and closed the Gallery down.

I want to thank everyone who supported me before, during, and after the show – everyone who helped me decide on what images to show, helped me get it all done, told me to calm down, and everyone who came to the show or sent me well wishes when they weren’t able to. The exhibit is up one more week (until October 11) so if you get a chance, stop by. I’d love to know if something caught your eye or made you smile. Webster House Galleries is located at 7526 Big Bend Blvd., St Louis, MO 63119.

And here is a link to an interview I did with Jamie Allman, where I talk about the exhibit, and not my dress. Allman in the Morning – September 12, 2013

Fabulous picture of the dress by Beckie Guillot-Beinke of ie Images

The dress