I went out into the wide world today.
Some friends had some out of town guests and they wanted me to go with them to do the trolley tour of Savannah's historic district and River Street.
If you've vacationed in Savannah you know exactly what I'm talking about. If not-- Savannah has a huge historic district and River Street is exactly that. It runs along the Savannah River.
Savannah is one of the USA's biggest ports and all of the big barges come down the River, laden, one assumes with porcelain thimbles and flipflops.
A few decades ago it was abandoned real estate. Now it's a huge tourist trap replete with restaurants, bars, candy stores, boutiques, galleries and souvenir shops. It's not my favorite place. When I go downtown, I go for tea at the Tearoom, which is quiet and cozy and soothing. I go with soothing people. I go early so I can get back early. No, I'm not as old as I sound right now.
A few things stood out at me today. The massive amounts of good resources devoted to generic junk at souvenir shops around the world, for one. Ubiquitously we have: porcelain thimbles, magnets with place names, keyrings with place names, tacky coffee mugs, food that does not under any circumstances belong in a jar, slogan teeshirts, flipflops, caps with place names, sorry sunglasses, jewelry made in Taiwan, China or India, disposable pens with place names and snowglobes. More specifically, though not exhaustively we have small resin pig statuettes decorated with glitter and pink feathers. People buy those? Really? Junk, junk and more junk.
It made me a little sad that people are so eager to buy junk.
Interestingly, at the galleries I was able to spot the art by locals and that purchased elsewhere mainly by price. I was admiring a series of wall tiles and then realized they were under $40 a piece. If the gallery takes half, that's $20 for the artist. Uh-uh. Looked around and saw the same tiles in three sizes and topping boxes-- the same exact pattern with no 'handpainted' differences, so I assume it was inked by machine.
The fabulous purple peyote necklace in the case was just under $500. It was made of different shades and the piece was woven of triangles grouped together. Lots of texture. Just gorgeous. Possibly one of a kind. I wondered if the artist had heard of Etsy.
Even the glasswork was different to me. The small colorful lampwork beaded bracelet in the case with the artists name prominently displayed looked much different to me that the dichroic 'art' jewelry pendants that were imported from somewhere or another.
I wouldn't bet I could spot them everytime, but that I saw any difference at all I attribute to my year on Etsy. That I was conscious of not only the tagged price, but how much the artist's cut may be I attribute to my year on Etsy. That I was frustrated at the way things were mixed together I attribute to my year on Etsy.
Now the disclaimer. I don't hate imports or jewelry from India, China and Taiwan. I like jewelry from India. I have some and want more. Once in awhile I wander into Pier 1 Imports, even though I don't like the way it smells.
My objection stems from knowing that most people will think that because things are displayed together they have equal value. If you like it fine. If you want it fine. Even tacky pig statuettes. But to buy it thinking that you're supporting an artist when you aren't isn't so great. Speaking as that artist of course.
I guess I just would like to live in a world where life and all the things in all of our lives were of the highest quality, where resources were spent on things worth spending it on and there was no waste, no deception and no taking advantage of anyone's ignorance.