me with Liz Haywood-Sullivan, Susan Weber and Joe Baker
IAPS (International Association of Pastel Societies) Convention 2015
It’s taken me this long to absorb all the wonderful and exciting highs of “the biggest gathering of pastel artists on the planet!”, the IAPS convention held in Albuquerque. I was lucky enough to be in charge of the registration desk, and get to work behind the scenes with an awesome team of people. Liz Haywood Sullivan, our fearless leader and tireless worker who epitomizes everything I aspire to be. She is not only a fabulous artist and teacher, but one of the nicest and most generous people I know. Susan Webster, a gem, who also worked countless hours on every aspect of the convention, who with her attention to detail, made everyone’s job run smoothly. Susan Weber, not to be confused with Susan Webster, my “sister from another mister” who never stopped to take a breath, making sure nothing fell through the cracks. I am amazed how everyone was a complete joy to work with and be around. As they say, it takes a village, and the giving spirit of the volunteers and instructors was palpable. It was an extraordinary experience being around such an exceptional group of remarkable and talented artists! A big shout out to all that helped me in registration area and made my job so much fun!
How it began:
Last year May, when Liz Haywood Sullivan, the president of IAPS, asked me to be part of her team, heading up the registration desk at the 2015 IAPS convention in Albuquerque, I told her I would think about it. At first, I felt honored and excited that she thought enough of my ability to think I would do a good job. But then a sense of apprehension and questions filled my head….would I be able to handle such a big job?… would it take up so much time that I wouldn’t enjoy the convention? ….would people get angry with me if I made a mistake? Before I talked myself out of it, I said “yes.” I figured, I love meeting and talking with people and I can keep calm with a smile on my face under pressure, 2 valuable assets needed for the job.
After emails of instructions and phone meetings from Susan Webster, the executive director (who I found out wasn’t going to be able to attend the convention), I flew into Albuquerque Sunday, May 31st, with my good friend and fellow artist, Barbara Jaenicke. Immediately, I met with Liz and the other Susan, Susan Weber, who is Liz’s assistant and right hand woman, and went over the pile of boxes which contain the packet materials for each attendee.
The task of putting 550 packets together each containing specific material, individual class schedules, individual badges, meal tickets, etc. was daunting but with just a few volunteers (Barbara Jaenicke, Donna Biggee, Joe Baker, Diane and Joe Rappisi, Virginia Unseld, Susan Weber, Lisa Ober) we managed to collate, label and stuff everything.
Registration started Wednesday at 1, and there was an unbelievable amount of work that took place before the desk opened. The big international art show, PastelWorld, had to be hung, plastic sheeting had to be laid to cover the hotel ballroom floors, signs posted, volunteers rounded, media equipment set up. It’s a huge undertaking but the volunteers worked tirelessly and the hotel staff was very accommodating.
I was lucky. I had great people working with me at the registration desk, especially Susan, who immediately became my new best friend and cohort, after realizing we grew up less than 10 minutes away from each other in NJ. “The Bobs” …Bob Suggs and Bob Heywood, and token “Bob”, Chas Statham, along with Phil Terry (all husbands of the artists) who kept me laughing with their teasing and joking. Laura Lincoln (accountant) and Bob Nelson (treasurer) taking careful track of the monies. I also had the special opportunity to work and become friends with the very talented Marla Baggetta, who I adore, and her mom was a hoot, as well! Her job was to oversee all the instructors and work with Ann Lewis, managing the class monitors. The Massachusetts crowd (Joni Dromey, Donna Rossetti- Bailey, and Eileen Casey) was also such fun to hang with…hang being the operative word since they worked relentlessly hanging the exhibit. My dear friends, Barbara Jaenicke and Donna Biggee, who when not stuffing packets, were my biggest supporters.
I must admit, as hard and crazy as we all worked, I had an absolute blast! It was tons of fun getting to see old friends and meeting all those extraordinary and revered pastel artists! Where else can you mix and mingle with name artists and take classes and workshops from the best, all in one place, for a whole week?! I had gone to the last 2 IAPS conventions and I truly got so much more out of it by volunteering. If you enjoy painting in pastels, IAPS is a definite must, and if you can volunteer, you will find it that much more fulfilling.
The highlight for me was receiving my Master Circle Medallion. Just realized that I buried the lead. Ok, next post.