I’m not a very good liar, and the US-Canada border crossing is no place to hone my skills.
|Ed Buonvecchio is looking forward to seeing the uniquely Fundy method of ditching boats.|
Several years ago, I was crossing back to the US from Ontario with several of my painting students. One of them caught the eye of Homeland Security. The rest of us cooled our heels in a badly-lighted waiting room while Jennifer convinced two border officers that she is an utterly blameless citizen.
Jennifer is chirpy about most things, even an unscheduled brush with law enforcement. “Those young men were cute!” she twanged in her Virginia accent. “Ah didn’t mind spending half the night with them at all.”
Yesterday, I traveled to Canada with Ed Buonvecchio. Ed and I make up 2/3s of the Maine contingent to the Parrsboro International Plein Air Festival. He’s just come back from another long road trip. He’s tired.
|Pink seas at Parrsboro, earlier this year.|
Perhaps it’s my grandmotherly good looks, but I usually have no problems crossing borders. However, I’ve been mindful about it ever since Poppy Balser was stopped coming into the US for Castine Plein Air in 2016. The question that tripped her up was, “Are you going to be selling any work?”
The accurate answer yesterday was that we are not going to sell work directly, but the festival’s organizers, Parrsboro Creative, would be doing so.
I’m not a very good liar. That doesn’t mean I’m honest; it just means that I don’t do it well. I don’t volunteer information, but it’s pointless for me to try to dissemble. A child would know I was telling a fib. Ed is, if anything, even worse.
It turns out that Ed, like my friend Jennifer, was flagged on the background check. We cooled our heels in a beautiful, airy, tiled building. Ed answered questions and fretted. I paced, trying to catch up with my husband on our Fitbit challenge.
|Cobequid Bay farm, by Carol L. Douglas. I last painted up here, oh, about three weeks ago.|
In the end, I’m like my pal Jennifer, always looking for the silver lining. I learned something important: it’s OK for American artists to work in Canada as long as our tools are worth less than a certain dollar amount. We can also bring in materials and supplies, as long as they’re worth less than a certain dollar amount. I haven’t found the magic numbers, but I figured our easels and brushes were probably worth less than $150 each, and our supplies under $100 each. (Those numbers may seem low, but these are pretty well-used items.)
|I'm looking forward to painting with Poppy Balser again.|
I'm relieved. That means we don’t have to try to pass ourselves off as amateurs when we cross over with our paints, brushes and canvases. That’s just easier on everyone, artists and customs inspectors alike.
“Ed,” I said in my biting Western New York accent, “That young man was cute! I didn’t mind spending time with him at all.”
Ed just rolled his eyes.
Addendum: I have no internet here, so my posts may be erratic for the rest of the week.