Author Archive for Amy Flynn

15
Aug
14

Fobots on Ice!

“Tragedy + Time = Comedy”
—Somebody smarter than me

When all this went down, I was devastated. I thought, “Never in a million years am I going to find this humorous”. I was wrong.

Funny thing happened on the way to our first show of the year–Coconut Grove in Miami. I’d been working my fingers to the bone–literally–all winter long, and I was itching to get to a show. Any show. The fact that the first one was in Miami, during a Raleigh winter that had been long, icy, and cold, and that Miami had been posting the same BORING forecast for weeks (74 and sunny, every frikkin’ day), made it a matter of LIFE AND DEATH that we get the hell outta town soon or something was gonna blow. So when yet another ice storm was scheduled to arrive on the day before we were supposed to leave for Florida, I was having none of it. Ice storms in Raleigh tend to bring traffic on most of the streets to a standstill. People abandon their cars, packs of wolves roam the deserted roads, there’s cannibalism…OK, just the first one. Anyway, I told Phil “Hop in the van, Sweetie, and let’s get out of here before the Storm of the Century of the Week hits”.

Coincidentally, this was Phil’s last day of work before retirement. The going away party had already been cancelled due to impending Snowmageddon, so he figured he’d just work on his laptop while I drove. We calculated that if we made it to the highway before the storm hit, we’d be golden. The highways in North Carolina are pretty well-maintained during ice storms, even if the side streets become Winter Olympic events.

At first, the plan seemed a good one. It was Wednesday. We’d get to warmer climates, maybe stop in Savannah for a mini-vacation, and get to Miami on Friday. We headed south, and missed the ice in North Carolina entirely.

Trouble is, we caught up with it in South Carolina. As the snow got heavier, we went slower and slower. Visibility was poor. And eventually, I ended up behind a huge semi, that was spitting even more slush up onto our windshield. Cautiously, I attempted to pass the rig on it’s left, and that’s when all hell broke loose. I must have caught a draft from the truck, and the van started fishtailing wildly. I hit the truck with the right rear end of the van, which spun it around so that I’d have the opportunity to hit it with the front end as well, sending us spinning like a top on the ice. After pirouetting gracefully around a mercifully empty highway a few times, we came to a halt in the fast lane, facing the wrong way. Fortunately, the van had enough spirit left to restart and drag its sorry carcass over to the median, where it breathed its last. Phil stopped working on his computer. Happy last day of work, honey!IMG_0350

(BTW, these photos were taken days later, after the storm blew over and the sun came out).

The police came quickly, and called a tow truck. The driver of the semi stopped his rig hundreds of yards away and came over to see if we were OK. As I sobbed “I’m so SORRY” to him, over and over, he just smiled and said, “Well, I THOUGHT I heard a thump!” Evidently, the truck had little or no damage. Not so our van–the passenger side was inoperable, chunks of the front end had been pulled off, and some red fluid was leaking from the engine. It looked like blood on the snow. But we were fine, as was everything in the van. No Fobots were harmed in the making of this adventure.

Enter Tommy Jr., our rescue angel and tow truck driver. Phil could not exit the demolished passenger door, and his double knee replacement in September had him even less mobile than usual. Tommy Jr.–all 5”4” and maybe 120 pounds of him–commenced to pull Phil backwards towards the driver side door and probably would have pulled him all the way out if Phil hadn’t stopped him in time. As we waited in the warm tow truck, Tommy Jr. finished things up with the Highway Patrol, and we called our insurance agent, who instructed us to bring the van to a collision center in Florence, SC.  Tommy Jr. cut off some of the dangling bits from the van and we were on our way. IMG_0348

Trouble is, the storm had knocked out the power to most of Florence SC, and the collision center was closed. I started crying again, since all my work was in the van, which couldn’t be locked as the passenger side window was gone. And the collision center–as collision centers are wont to be–was not exactly in the ritzy part of town. No problem, says Tommy Jr.–I’ll bring it to my house, lock it in the yard, put a tarp over it, and my dog won’t let anyone near it. Good dog. Good dog.

Our luck continued to improve. We got one of the last two hotel rooms in Florence, in one of the only parts of town that had power. Tommy Jr. helped us bring as much as we could into the hotel, and after settling up with him, he asked us if there was ANYTHING else he could do for us. Anything at all. Phil, observing that I was still shaking like a leaf, jokingly asked if he knew where we could get a bottle of tequila. “I’m on it!”, says Tommy Jr. But even our resourceful tow truck driver could not find an open liquor store in a town that was almost completely closed. But that’s OK. The front desk informed us that the only two options for food were a convenience store across the highway from the hotel, or either Papa John’s or Domino’s could deliver. We called up Domino’s (I mean, we’re desperate, but we’re not monsters, right?) and they took our order, but apologized that there would be a 2 1/2 hour delay. Seemed reasonable.

And so we settled in for a day of pizza and Winter Olympics. Around 10pm, my cell phone rang. It was Tommy Jr. “You still want that bottle of tequila?” I’d stopped shaking by then, but I believe the response was still “OH HELL YEAH”. This dear man drove it to our hotel and met Phil downstairs. Phil asked him in wonderment, how he’d managed to find an open liquor store under these conditions. “Well, it’s like this”, replied Tommy.  “I’d just given a guy a tow, and when we went inside to settle up, I noticed all these big bottles of liquor on his counter. I asked him how much he wanted for the Cuervo, and when he said forty bucks, I said, let me call someone…”

Thursday brought another day of pizza, tequila, Winter Olympics (I am now an expert on luge and curling, though the luge was difficult to watch after our incident) and hourly calls to the still unopened collision center and car rental places. The Miami weather reports continued to taunt us. Finally, around 6pm, the power came back on at Enterprise, long enough for them to leave a message on their answering machine that they would reopen Friday at 8am. I immediately booked a cargo van online, and arranged for Tommy Jr. to meet us there to transfer all our stuff from the wreck to the rental. Things are looking up. We may have to set up in Miami in the middle of the night, but we just might make it…

Not so fast. We arrived at Enterprise just before they opened, and were first in line to collect our reserved cargo van. The guy behind the counter looked stricken. “I’m sorry”, he said, “but there isn’t a cargo van to be had anywhere in the state”. HOW CAN THIS BE????!! Note to future self–do not attempt to rent a van on Valentine’s Day. Those greedy florists have booked every last one for extra deliveries. At this point, I uttered a sentence that has never before left my lips.

”OK. I’ll take two minivans”.

The collision center had also reopened that morning, and Tommy Jr. met us there with his son, who we will always think of as Tommy Jr. Jr.. They helped us transfer our cargo, and it miraculously all fit in one van. The Dodge Caravan with the Stow and Go seats is like Hermione’s handbag (Harry Potter reference, for all you geeks out there). We were able to return the spare van, and were finally on our way south by noon.

We weren’t the only ones setting up at midnight in Miami–others had been caught by the storm as well, though not as spectacularly as we’d been. The only other problem we encountered was trying to get everything out of the minivan, whose back door was too low to slide the display cases straight out. I don’t know how the Tommies did it, but when I attempted to do it in reverse, I tore the meniscus in my right knee trying to heave a seventy pound case sideways out the back. When the show opened the next morning, we were ready to go, and all the other artists, having heard of our adventure, thought I’d messed it up in the crash. Nope, just not as agile as the Tommies. I turned out to be a really good show for us (can you imagine how soul-crushing it would be to have a bad show after going through all that?) and we even won an award.IMG_0353

So there you have it. On the way back home, we got confirmation from the collision center that the van was, indeed, totaled (duh), so I got on the phone with some Ford dealers and informed them that whoever calls me with the best price on a 2013 Ford Transit Connect in the next few hours gets a cashier’s check the next morning and the easiest sale they’ve ever made. Sure enough, we pick up our new van, “The Botmobile”, the next morning, and are off to our next show in Baltimore that day.

PS–If you ever crash your car in Florence SC, call O’Dad’s Towing.  Ask for Tommy Jr. Oh–and I made him a Fobot with angel wings, out of a tin that held sealant for cracked radiators.  Seemed appropriate.MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERA

21
Apr
14

Schedule Change–Sorry, Cottonwood

To anyone in the Dallas TX area who was planning on visiting us at the Cottonwood Art Festival in Richardson TX–we’re so sorry, but we’ve had to withdraw from the show. Sales at Fiesta San Antonio this last weekend were just too good.  And even though the last day of the Main St. Ft. Worth Arts Festival was canceled due to a threat of nasty weather, it was still good enough to place it second on our list of best shows ever.  Second only to Main St. LAST year.

The good news is, we won awards (!) at both Ft. Worth and San Antonio this year, so we’ll be able to return to both next year without having to jury in.  The Fiesta Art Fair in San Antonio was probably the most enjoyable show we’ve ever done.  The atmosphere was joyous–everyone in SA comes out for Fiesta, wearing huge crazy hats and covered in commemorative medals. Our booth was inside the chapel of a former convent at the Southwest School of Art–the most beautiful setting ever, and you KNOW how much I like being indoors at these shows, safe from Mother Nature’s whims. I really should gave taken more pictures, but here are a few. If Fiesta and Main St. are on the same weekend next year, I’m just going to have to clone myself.
photo 4photo 3
photo 2 photo 1







25
Jan
14

Field Trip!

Remember last summer when some of the bots got picked for exhibit at a museum in Florida?  Well, it’s happened again. These guys–Rocky, Look Homeward Angel, Big Honeymaker, Glitch, and Tom Foolery–have been selected to appear at the Arizona Museum for Youth (soon to be re-christened the “i.d.e.a. Museum”) in Mesa, AZ. The exhibit of robot art runs February 6 through May 25, 2014. I’m sorry I won’t be chaperoning this particular field trip, but if you go, tell the bots to please misbehave whenever the teachers’ backs are turned.Fobots for the i.d.e.a. Museum

24
Dec
13

Deck the Halls With Bots of Folly, 2013 Edition

In keeping with my ONLY Christmas decorating tradition, I present the third annual Fobot Holiday Mantelpiece. Warmest wishes to all the Fobot fans out there, and Phil and I hope to see you in person at an art fair next year.MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERA

15
Nov
13

Welcome to Rejection Season

It never fails to amaze me how many people think that the artists they see at art festivals simply decide which shows they would like to do, and then arrive the day of the festival and start selling.  In tents provided by the festival, no less. Wish it were true, but it ain’t. No, we’re just now starting what the artists I know call “Rejection Season”.

“Rejection Season” is when all of the shows we’ve submitted applications to months and months ago (along with a hefty jury fee) start letting us know who’s in and who’s out. Imagine, if you will, thousands of artists obsessively pressing the refresh button on their email inbox like chickens trying to get a pellet of corn to dispense. At least I do. Don’t you judge me.

And the stakes are high. Get into enough shows–or even just a few of the “right” ones–and your year is made. Get enough rejections, and you start wondering how you’ll look in a Walmart vest. And since you can’t count on any show coming through for you–even ones you’ve done for years–you apply to multiple shows on the same weekend and hope for the best. It’s expensive. It’s stressful. It’s why my parents wanted me to study accounting.

But before you feel sorry for me, I have a confession to make. I don’t want to tell this to my artist friends, many of whom are struggling now, but so far this year we’ve gotten into every show we’ve applied to, and even had to turn one down (sorry Dogwood, but when you’re on the same weekend as Main St. Ft. Worth, our best show ever, you’re going down). This is an embarrassment of riches, and I consider myself the luckiest artist on the planet. If you’ll look to the right of this page, you’ll see a list of where the Fobots will be in 2014.* And if you don’t see your town on the list, don’t panic. We’re still waiting to hear on plenty of shows. Rejection season ain’t over yet…

*Old Town Chicago–we’re in, but may not be able to make it this year, so you’re not on the list yet.

UPDATE–we’ve been accepted to Lakefront Festival of Art in Milwaukee, so we’re going to put Old Town back on the list, since they’re on consecutive weekends.  I was hoping to audition for a play that would conflict with both of those shows, but the idiocy of canceling not one, but TWO art fairs, in favor of an unpaid community theatre gig, has finally sunk in. Dates and other schedule details are in the column on the right.

02
Nov
13

Online Sale Starting Soon!

Just a reminder–the Fobot Store will be reopening for business at 3pm EDT today, November 2. This year, thanks in part to Phil’s double knee replacement which kept us out of shows in September & October, we have a record 130 items available!  So many, in fact, that they don’t all fit on the first page of the site. So–you’ll want to click one of the “Category” buttons on the right side of the shopping cart page to see them all.  Also new this year–bots have been arranged alphabetically, to help you find them more easily.  And don’t forget–if the one you had your heart set on sells before you can get to it, let me know, and I’ll see if I can make you one similar. Enjoy!

2013 Online Sale

28
Oct
13

Whole Buncha New Bots Available Soon!

 

MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERA
Couldn’t make up your mind when faced with the pressure of selecting the perfect FOBOT at one of the art fairs we participated in this year? Want to add to your FOBOT family? Starting at 3pm Eastern Time on Saturday, November 2, we’ll have a new crop of over 90 bots (plus calendars and babybots) up for sale on the website!

I usually only add new bots to the website once a year when the art fair season is over, so this is your big chance. I’m now using an online shopping cart, rather than having you call or email me to make a purchase as in previous years. Of course, if you still want to call or email me, you’re welcome to do so. I love talking to you. But this way, you can shop securely by credit card at any hour of the day or night.
In a few days, I’ll be closing the site and you’ll see an “Under Construction” sign while I put the finishing touches on all the new pages. The secure shopping cart website is fobots.bigcartel.com, and you can also access it from the ifobot.com site. If the bot you desired sells before you can get to it, don’t despair! Let me know, and I’ll tell you if I can make another one similar to it just for you. And if you want a sneak peek at the soon-to-be-available Fobots, you can visit their fan page on Facebook: www.facebook.com/Fobots . I’m still editing the pictures as I prepare them for the website, but I’ll definitely have them all up by November 1. See you then.



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