This blog is part 2 of 2 posts, so please make sure you read part one or you’ll be quite lost for a bit!
So when we last left our heroes, they were about to…wait, wrong past-time!
Finally, November 17th came and we set out on our drive down to NY, for Remy’s first Art Exhibit Opening. We traveled to my Aunt and Uncle’s home, which is about an hour north of where the Gallery is, as they graciously took us in for the night. Not only did they give us a comfy place to sleep, but my Aunt Susie had: lunch awaiting us on our arrival, had a roast beef with all the fixings in the oven for dinner and made a full breakfast in the morning. It was as though I was taken back in time to my childhood as literally, nothing had changed! It had snowed the day before, so Remy got to go sledding down a hill for the first time ever! He had a blast! He went down that small hill, over and over, saying to Rob, “One more time Dada!” and he squealed with glee as he got spun down the icy slope. In addition, I got to reconnect with my beloved Aunt and Rob got to bond with my Uncle over politics. It was an incredible mini vacation even without the art show and I hope to return for a longer visit soon.
On Sunday morning, we got ready for the opening and then traveled the 45 minutes down to a restaurant for lunch where we got to finally meet our virtual friends in person for the first time, before heading over to the opening at 2 pm. In the future, I’ll detail the yummy lunch and the mall that had a full ropes coarse in the middle of it and a Ferris Wheel, especially since we would like to go back, just for the mall! We headed over to the Bell-ans property and when we saw the sign, butterflies immediately started in both Rob’s and my bellies as Remy sat, blissfully unaware, in his car seat. What was it going to be like? How many people would actually show up? Would Remy’s paintings sell, let alone would anyone like them? Countless questions flooded our brains as our friend led us through the back entrance and up to the gallery. I can tell you that while we didn’t know what to expect, it wasn’t what was before us!
First, it was mobbed! We had to wait in line to get down the hallway that displayed various works of small art pieces, before you got to the main gallery showrooms; that had the featured pieces. It was about ten minutes past 2:00 pm as we slowly shuffled down the hallway, when the crowd opened up a bit, becoming less congested. People had turned off into other spaces and it was then that I saw a smiling face, with a gorgeous head of curly red hair, who I recognized from Facebook. It was Phyllis Dodge, owner and curator of the exhibit and she exclaimed “They’re here!” I looked up at Rob, bewildered and he shrugged his shoulders as Phyllis came the short distance that separated us. She opened her arms and gave me a hug saying “Come with me, his piece already sold and the buyer wants to meet him” and she took Remy’s hand to bring him into the Main showroom. On a side note, I could instantly tell the type of person I was dealing with and she may not realize how important it was to me that she looked at me and asked if Remy was alright with her touching him and leading him away. She “said” it with little verbal language and a lot of non-verbal communication and I simply bowed my head to give her the go ahead. It’s those type of exchanges where I feel solidarity with other parents of autistics, as opposed to long drawn out stories of the challenges their child has faced, but I digress.
We scurried behind her and Remy, mouths gaping in astonishment, as the exhibit literally just opened. We entered the room and there it was, “Surfer’s Folly”, up on the wall, surrounded by other incredible works of art and people gathered around it awaiting the pint sized artist. Whether she intended to or not, Phyllis made us feel like the most special people in the room in those minutes, gushing over Remy’s art and showing him off. I can’t even tell you all the people we met in that whirlwind, as we moved from conversation to conversation, giving snippets about Remy’s journey and saying “yes he is only 7” over and over again. We met the buyer of his painting, who was delightful and had her own great story of her accomplishments, the coolest of which is that she is a shoe designer! She is the owner of P.Ross, a boutique, which is in the area and is an actor, so we had an instant connection. Remy really didn’t understand what was going on, but he did know that his art was up on the wall, albeit bit perplexed as to how it got there. He also understood that people wanted photos with him and any time we said his name, he went over and posed underneath his painting, without question!
After the hullabaloo died down a little bit, we went to find his smaller work of art and found it in the hallway, with the rest of the smaller pieces, but right on the corner, where it was easily seen. When we got over there, 4 different people were talking about buying the piece, all in their own conversations. It was a race to the clip board, so to speak, as a couple quickly snatched it up and we got to see one of the staff members put the red crystal sticker on its info card, to indicate that it was sold. We spent the next 45 minutes or so talking with various people who were interested in Remy and listened to a rock band, with all autistic members, called the Rock N Rollers and a poet!
It was definitely exhausting and Remy was getting a bit bored, so we were able to go with our friends down to their wood shop, which is a space they rent in the same building as the gallery. It really was great to have that break away from things for a bit. Remy got to play with our friends children and us adults got to bond a bit more. Have you ever met those people where it is an instant bond? That is what it was like for the whole family. Remy was enamored with their daughter who patiently played with him, on his terms and for the adults, it was as though we had known them for many years. After we took a good 30 minute break, we returned to the party and was able to explore the many talented artists who had work displayed and we even got to meet some of the artists as well.
It was a great day and weekend as a whole, but it was time to get in the car and make the several hour journey home. What made it harder, was the strengthened relationship with people we now can really call “friends,” but also the disappointment with the physical difference that separates us. However, that just means that we need to go back to visit and soon! In the week following our return, it was quite busy! Not only did Remy sell his exhibit pieces, but we had several people visit our website and purchase the paintings we had available, since they missed out at the reception. On top of that, my friend, posted a link to our page in a home decor group she belongs to and the response has been overwhelming. Not only has Remy sold several pieces of art to many group members, but we also made a connection to a person where the potential future opportunities for Remy are both incredible and overwhelming! I don’t mean to be vague, but I am not one to get my hopes up, so i’ll wait and see what happens and then share it with you all, when the time is right.
So what have we learned through all of this? Well, we have learned many things but the bottom line is that you never know how even small life experiences, can shape your future on a large scale. So, when asked if I would change anything about my past, my answer will always be a resounding NO! You never know when you download an app on your phone, when it will lead to incredible opportunities for your son, which highlight his incredible accomplishments. It is OK to make mistakes and have regrets in life, but it up to us to use our experiences in a positive way and especially, to pass that piece of knowledge to our children.
If you wish to support a great organization, please visit www.bellans.com and see all the wonderful things they have to offer.