Only habanero hard candy could have made my trip to the Starving Artist Expo in my orange compact any faster, hotter, or sweeter. I don’t know how I did it, I just did. I made it all the way through town to the expo without hitting a single red light.
When I pulled into Oakdene Place in east Rome, I saw the pop art in the lawn outside the famous McLin house and at that moment I knew these artists were serious. The event took place in the private home of one of the expo contributors, and was open for anyone who wanted to come. With live piano music in the background I saw a mostly younger crowd, although this was not a hipster event. There were also a few older couples, a college professor, and a librarian among others who came to take art seriously in Rome.
These people also took hunger among the poor seriously as well. By the expo’s own admission, “Our artists are NOT actually starving. However, many people in our area are. We have a heart for these people so please bring a canned good to help those who battle hunger on a daily basis”. I contemplated this as I browsed spinny grey ceramic pineapples and felt the food utensils available for purchase.
Like one could imagine, everything from the freaky to the homely was available. The disheveled look and blank stare of the piano groupie in aviators wasn’t even enough to keep me from marveling at intricate crochet jewelry.
This expo did not put forth an illusion of sophistication. From the pottery to the ironworks, it was a straightforward, honest, and successful attempt by local artists to get their work seen while at the same time alleviating hunger and poverty.