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Artist's Voice: El Segundo Art Walk Behind the Scenes

El Segundo resident and artist Natalie Strong gives us an entertaining peek into showing art at ArtWalk.

By Natalie Strong

A painting of gummy bears by Natalie Strong
"The First Dozen Gummy Bears" by Natalie Strong

"Why didn’t I start preparing for Art Walk sooner?!”

I began to get excited (panic in earnest, actually) about my July 18 Art Walk show at AboutSpace Studios just five minutes after the first Art Walk ended in June—which is why it is so perplexing that I am still asking myself the same question on Monday, July 15, three days out, followed immediately by, “How can it be happening this week already?!”

You can explain to me about days, weeks, months, and calendars all you want; my creative process absently says, “What?” as it contemplates starting something new rather than finishing anything I’m going to need for this more immediate obligation.

For those of you wondering what the days leading up to Art Walk are like for a participating artist, here’s how it usually goes for me.

Monday: Make an epic list of things that need to be done by Thursday. Play an addictive game on phone for two hours. Realize it’s too late to get anything done tonight. Delete addictive game from phone. Lay awake thinking. Finally fall asleep when it’s…

Tuesday: Fetch artwork from garage/office/Resin Hermosa gallery/behind the dresser. Remember that some of the paintings are quite big. Decide to take the big paintings to AboutSpace and hang them first in case they take up most of the available wall space. Hang them. Realize that it’s the wall that’s “quite big,” and the paintings are “not that big after all.” Go home and recalculate. Fetch more art from behind the dresser. Return to AboutSpace to hang smaller art on giant wall. Survey the complete art show. Feel good. Immediately start feeling like an epic imposter. Go home.

Wednesday: Can’t remember Wednesday.

Thursday: It’s the day of the show, y’all! Go to Michael’s craft store to get table easels and cardstock, then Office Depot to get toner (the cyan ran out again, of course). Replace cyan toner. Type, try to print, replace magenta toner, print, and cut price placards. Replace black toner. Return to AboutSpace to put up the finishing touches. Survey the complete art show. Feel good. Immediately start feeling like an epic imposter again. Go home.

Still Thursday: Look at the clock. Too soon to get ready. Nothing else to do to prepare. Sleep for an hour because it’s the only way through the anxiety. Wake up. Still too much time. Get ready anyway. Sit around long enough to then have to rush to the show, almost late.

Thursday at 5pm: I’ve made it. Will anyone come to the show? Some do. Then lots do. I don’t know where to stand. I want to be everywhere and nowhere at once. But then the music and the conversations begin, and relaxing into the evening finally feels possible.

The Main Street Band, featuring my husband Patrick Strong, Jean-Louis Boudreau, Tom Gramlich, Kevin Hobson, and Bruce Graham, rocks the house from top to bottom. Josette Murphy and the AboutSpace Studios crew host a wonderful party with delicious food from local Mediterranean eatery Aristo.

Kids, babies, adults, and dogs all walk through the show. Some stay a while. Some are on a mission to see everything Art Walk has to offer and therefore keep rolling. I have so many pleasant conversations that the hours fly by. One young woman is so excited to see “The First Dozen Gummy Bears” (pictured), which she recognizes from Instagram, that I get to be Internet Famous for a few minutes. (It’s really fun!)

Thursday 8:55pm: Where did the time go?! The Main Street Band closes the show with Tom Petty’s “American Girl,” which is one of my favorites. And then it’s over. I have a few promising nibbles on my paintings, and I have successfully made it through the night in high heels. The silence feels good after a rowdy night. Patrick and I head to ES Chophouse to see our favorite waitress (Hi, Natalie!) and enjoy some down time. The kids are having a sleepover, so there’s no rush.

Friday: What happened? “I should start preparing for next summer.” My creative process says, “What?” with a spacey look in its eyes. I never learn.

Natalie Strong is an artist and writer based in El Segundo.

This story appears in the August 2019 issue.

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