Friday, February 19, 2016

PantheaCon Ramble 2016!

The Owlkeyme Arts Booth at PantheaCon, 2016
I need a mini-PantheaCon to come down from PantheaCon. (I refuse to say the return to reality was harsh, because it's all reality...I just want a bit more P-Con time.)

The Prep:
Last year the band toured after P-Con, this year we toured before, which meant a LOT more planning on my part to get everything done for the booth before we started on the road. Somehow I succeeded in accomplishing most of what I wanted to get done. We did end up having to take two cars down to the Bay Area to fit everything for booth and band (yes, there's a mini-van in our future), but the upside of that was 14 hours of listening to podcasts on my own. (My favorite podcast out of the bunch I listened to was Down at the Crossroads - I made the band listen to at least 4 of them with me again when we got it down to one car).  I may have yelled aloud at a few points (to no one in particular, though the Oregon countryside may have taken offense), but mainly it made for a strong inspirational brew of thoughts, images, and music (to come!) - and a fairly good frame of mind heading into the tour.

The tour itself went very well - much more smoothly than last year on several levels, with full shows, less traffic, and great vibes.  The following week landed us at Anaar's, where we caught up, brainstormed, prepared for our workshop, and helped each other get ready for PantheaCon.

Friday morning, I was fairly well-rested, packed, and ahead of schedule. Then I turned the key in Tiny Blue Car and a wealth of dummy lights were ablaze - that made no sense to be on while the car was in park, so my gut said electrical blurp (and was proven right).  Perhaps the universe thought I needed to be stressed about something, since everything else was going well!

2015 was the first year I'd returned to having a booth at P-Con - which was largely successful in huge ways, but the set-up had nearly brought me to a nervous breakdown.  This year I was determined to have a smooth set-up, and made some key adjustments, resulting in a MUCH better set-up experience. With the booth set up at a decent pace without stress, I got to enjoy the rest of the morning and afternoon seeing the hotel swell with P-Con attendees, seeing old and new friends alike.  I had hoped to make some of the programming, but with two bandmates in various states of plaguedom, I was content to connect with folks at the booth.

As we rolled into evening, shut the booth down, got a decent meal, then got ready to present "Possessing The Dark: Choreolalia - Speaking In Dance" with Anaar.  It had been 10 years since we last offered this workshop together, so we had taken some time to update and revise it to get the best flow for our audience. We still did some adjusting in the moment to account for the room, the number of attendees (a LOT!), and the overall flow of the workshop. Overall, very satisfied with how it went, and it's always a pleasure to work with Anaar. We're plotting more things together.

Being already on a tour schedule (I switch to about 6 hours of sleep instead of 8), and paranoid about being late, got up and moving fairly early on Saturday.  Managed to do a real breakfast, get the booth set up for the day, and off to my "Power of Line & Symbol: The Art of Sigil Magick" presentation rather early to find the room already quite full. At first I thought the previous event hadn't ended yet, but nope...all these folks were waiting for me.  And despite having taught how many dance workshops and metaphysical classes over the years, I was feeling a bit nervous. Once the tech was ready, and we moved some tables to make some more room, I announced to the class that if anyone was hoping for traditional, ceremonial magic-style sigil work, now's the time to leave, because that's not what we were going to talk about. Not a single person budged.

And off we went.  The culmination of the class was working together to design a sigil for PantheaCon - the theme for this year being "Making Changes." Folks called out intentions we could focus on to help make it a great con experience - and keep going from there out into the larger community.  Then we used the basic design vocabulary I had introduced to design the image you see on the right.

The response to the sigil workshop was truly overwhelming and wonderful - and I found out they sadly had to turn a lot of folks away, and I was asked to offer it again next year.

And after that, the rest of the day was swallowed by the booth, which was hopping for the rest of the time we were open!

And somewhere my brain thought I had the evening off (it desperately wanted that), but nope, I had been invited to perform in the Hero's Journey Through Bellydance Show at 9pm. No time to eat, so off to get into costume and head over the ballrooms.  The show managed to score a larger room this year, which was great, and there was a lot of thought put into all of the very diverse performances.  Alas, there was a serious sound tech issue that swallowed a fair bit of the music, but the performers made it work and I think for the most part, the audience didn't know as it was happening. (My piece turned into an instrumental...which was hilarious, because I had been performing to the song live all week on tour, and was on stage wondering if the recorded version had a much longer intro...).

I don't quite remember Sunday morning, but much of that day was involved with band business: arriving and coordinating band members, loading in equipment for the Mythpunk Concert, and me alone at the booth. Had to close the booth down earlier because the concert started at 7, and I needed to get into costume again. This year the show didn't conflict with the bellydance show, but holy moses, the Feri Revival was next door, and that was a huge crowd of folks waiting to get in!  Still, parts I (us) and II (Pandemonaeon) were well attended and folks had a great time.

Monday morning came pretty hard, as did some variety of plague, but it was a lovely morning and afternoon of saying goodbyes.

I did get to spend some time in the hospitality rooms throughout the weekend (in the evenings) - mainly Black Rose (shout out to Devin and Storm) and Hexenfest suites, and a quick run-by the Llewellyn suite for the meet-and-greet/social as a soon-to-be-published author of one of their titles. I especially enjoy Black Rose because of the mood and interesting folks to talk to - generally without the awkwardness of being hit on.  (Though I'm rather oblivious about that anyway...)

Overall, I am really humbled and amazed by the reactions to my art and to my presentations.  Many large originals (and many more prints/jewelry/coloring books/etc) went to new homes, and I accepted a few commissions as well. I felt like it was a huge affirmation that I'm on the right path with all of my work.

I really enjoyed the vibe of the whole convention this year - it felt really positive and wonderful.  I had great interactions with staff, volunteers, and met so many folks. I'm lamenting though that I didn't get to spend as much time with certain folks as I hoped, nor did I really get to attend any other presentations.  I'm already eyeing the schedule for Paganicon in March and feeling like it's going to go the same way.  I really need to see what I can do to get more personal time in my schedule, and make sure I get to attend more things. Probably will be a combination of limiting myself to giving only 2 presentations, and making sure I have (healthy) booth help.

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