The 70th annual American Bell Association Convention was held in a city I’ve known & appreciated since first visiting after graduating from 8th grade. Over the years I’ve visited two aunts; an early art teacher; a college roommate; my only sister; & my closest brother… plus several favorite cousins.
We have lots of good reasons to visit KC… even before the barbecue!
The city’s Nelson-Atkins art museum is a great & unusually lively institution, It was there, in 1959, on my first visit I met the ancient Greek lion sculpted of marble which became the model for my logo. I drew him as a wheeled pull-toy, inspiring in turn my doppelganger, Leo Toye. He was long in the repair shop & on our last visit the museum was closed… although the translucent walls of the Steven Holl building glowed enticingly…
I certainly was anticipating remaking acquaintance with this important entity who has become a personal symbol. He’s still wonderful!
We are most likely to attend the ABA convention when it is held in a city we want to visit, Because it is such an expensive show we often don’t find it worth the time/expense. The group has been getting smaller in the decades since I began attending in 1983… coincidentally staying with brother Jon & his partner Michael that trip as well. They loaned me a car to drive to Springfield, Missouri, where that meeting was held. In those days 350-400 registered. When I came to know only 128 were attending this year, I became concerned… in spite we’d been 4 years absent ourselves… which does historically help build interest.
The first day is a gathering time before the next day’s first official session. The display room is open that day for the longest block of time. We begin setting-up our display after breakfast & the room is opened from after lunch until dinner time. I usually write half my business in those 5-6 afternoon hours. At closing time we were still wrapping-up an single client’s order for 10 bells… a sale handsomely allaying earlier fears. Appreciative business continued to make a very successful show for the bells.
The hotel was rather perfect: with a pleasant staff; a roomy suite overlooking an open interior court from 8 floors up; breakfast with custom omelets; a generous happy hour… both gratis; & meals from quite a good kitchen… we were pleased.
Of course I have developed friendships with many of the ABA members over the years. Stephen has his own relationships since he often has accompanied me during our 20 years. We were the first out gay couple during times which did not easily guarantee the acceptance we feel now.
Our luggage, waiting on the Island’s dock with me for Stephen’s hike up to the parking lot to bring down the car. This is our total baggage for the bell show; his biz; & our wardrobes. It includes a very well-traveled taped paper construction I made sometime in the 90’s to transport the bell display boards… it still functions beautifully even as it has accumulated significant additional value over the years in terms of shipping costs. ‘Slap another $50 bill onto its hide for this trip…