Study in Light and Shadow

Study in Lighting at Tohono Chul Park in Tucson Arizona

Study in Light and Shadow © 2011 Bo Mackison

Sometimes the sun shines, lighting up the world in wondrous ways. And sometimes the clouds take over and send stormy weather our way. You would think that if thunderstorms showed up simultaneously with the art festival I was in this weekend, it would not be a festive occasion. You would be partly right. But you would be partly wrong, too.

The thunderstorm that was forecast for noon on Sunday did arrive in the midst of the Barrington Art Festival.

The pounding rains and gusting winds sent all the artists scurrying to secure their tents and get out of harm’s way. The customers, many who had come ready for a bit of rainy weather, found cover in nearby stores or vehicles. Within minutes, the streets were deserted.

Sherpa and I took cover in a nearby coffee shop along with a dozen or so other artists. And then the storm really hit — thunder clapping and a heavy downpour. For awhile, everyone’s attention turned to the weather sites on cell phones and iPads. But once we saw that the storm covered not only the Chicago area, but extended 150 miles west to the Illinois/Iowa border, hopes for a brief rain delay were dashed.

We did the most prudent thing — we sat down, ordered coffee and chai tea, and relaxed for a while. The promoter had hopes of resuming the show, and since it was still early in the day, we were all more than willing to wait. The conversation went round and round–next week’s art shows, the current weather report, a potter’s report on a new raku item he was designing, more weather reports.

A few people voiced concerns over the conditions of soggy booths and art inventory, and they left the dry cafe to check on their tents. Meanwhile, we ordered more coffee and tea, scones and muffins. A rather festive mood helped chase the stormy weather concerns away.

By the time the storm had passed, there were scattered reports of flooding and power outages in the Chicago area. The streets were still empty. The most prudent thing to do was to pack up a bit early. Everyone agreed.

Again, you might expect to hear cranky complaints after a three-hour delay. There is a large amount of work and expense to prepare for and be in an art fair. No one wants an art festival to be rained out. But everyone was simply grateful there had been no serious damage, and so we all started packing our things, chatting back and forth.

Then the mood turned even brighter. The band, Cirrus Falcon, who had provided entertainment on Saturday and for the first couple of hours on Sunday, turned on their amps and began to play again. As the clouds broke up, and rays of sunlight began peeking through the gray atmosphere, the duo started singing the Beatles classic, Here Comes the Sun. More standards followed from Elton John, America, Simon and Garfunkel, Billy Joel, and many others.

Artists smiled, a few began singing. Several families wandered by, and stopped to listen to the music. We all enjoyed this intimate concert.

I didn’t sell anything today, didn’t make any money. But I did enjoy myself. I met new artists. I spent the afternoon in a great coffee shop, playing Scrabble with Sherpa while visiting with new friends. It wasn’t the day I had planned for, it wasn’t what I had anticipated or hoped for. But it was a great day anyway. The day’s events reinforced that my choice to be an artist on the art show circuit is a good choice for me.

Some days the sun shines. Some days the clouds bring on the rain. Or to quote Mr. Longfellow, “Into each life, a little rain must fall.”

(Though next weekend I would be more than happy to see the sun shine!)


Bo Mackison is a photographer and the owner of Seeded Earth Studio LLC. She is happy the summer art festivals are here.


About Bo Mackison

I'm a photographer, book-artist, traveler, naturalist, and creator of the Contemplative Creatives Journey, An Online Workshop and Community and Desert Wisdom Cards and Workshops. Though often not well known, I find the desert a welcoming place - a healing space. Its mysteries and gifts transformed me several years ago. Since that first encounter, I return again and again to fill my well in what most people think of as a desolate region. I'd love to share my desert discoveries and wisdom with you. Please subscribe to receive my five part mini email course The Gifts of the Desert. It's my gift to you.


  1. What a great eye! Love the simplicity here..and how you found the sunshine in the shadows!

  2. What a story, Bo. It is the person content within themselves who can take such situations and turn them into something fun. Sounds like a great like-minded group of folks and a wonderful, almost magical day. Scones and tea and music and new friends – celebrate!

    • Bo Mackison says:

      I haven’t always been able to carry off adversity with calm. But this weekend was a good weekend, despite all the down pours!

  3. Isn’t it amazing what gifts the rain will sometimes bring? 🙂

    Great story, Bo. If it had to be a rain-out, at least you were able to enjoy it. It sounds like such a wonderful time, in spite of the weather.

    Great photo, too, to illustrate your story.

  4. Gandalf says:

    Scones and coffee sound good, but i’d suggest a cold beer and some munchies. 🙂

  5. Well, I was planning to go to the Barrington Art Fair about 3 on Sunday, thereby ensuring you would have had at least one sale. Severe weather and flooding forced me to make indoor plans. I’m grateful that I get another chance to visit your booth at one of your other Chicago-area shows.

    • Bo Mackison says:

      I’ll look forward to seeing you at another Chicago area fair. There are quite a few options. Thanks!

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