This blog describes my very own personal experiences from being a young English man, from a tiny village in South Wales UK, to living the life and rubbing shoulders with the stars in Los Angeles. this will demonstrate my development and should hopefully provide a few entertaining stories of my experiences. I hope you enjoy it, and feel involved with my time here in the United States.

Friday, February 25, 2011

Why A Cow?.... Why not?

Working with Good Gracious! Events is never dull, someway or another GG! gets involved in some experimental, inspiring projects. Well this was defiantly one for the books.

GG! volunteered to contribute to a wedding gallery which was going to be presented by WIPA (Wedding Industry Professionals Association) at The Special Event in Phoenix in January 2011.

To conjure up this creation, four A – type personalities came together, along with their colleagues, in order to devise a gallery so unique, so amazingly different, that it would be the talk of the show. These four personalities were Pauline Parry of Good Gracious! Events, Eddie Zartsian of Tic – Tock Couture Florals, Vanessa Rockafellow of Cachet Wedding Designs, and Erin O’Donnell of BBJ Linen. Of course a special mention goes out to Dan Smith and Michelle Nowak of GG! who also contributed to the project.

Now where do I come in?

Well you should first of all know, that where I am sat in the GG! office is perfect so I can see Patrick in his office, all he has to do is lean forward in his chair and we can make eye contact… Now in the office with Patrick is our wonderful, amazing Vice President Martha Perez. So when most discussions occur, they do so in her office. Dan Smith went into her office to discuss plans for Phoenix, meanwhile I am at my desk working hard, oblivious to what’s going on. Next thing I hear is giggling, and Dan smith leaning over so he can see me at my desk wearing a cheeky grin… I of course look up and catch that “look” which always… ALWAYS means Dan has a wonderful, educational, purposeful task in mind for me…. Before I had a chance to ask what he needed I somehow had a suitcase in my hand, and I was being piled into the GG! cube truck in order to be the “muscle” of the operation.

Off we go to Arizona….

Traveling to Phoenix Arizona in the Cube truck was Dan, myself, what seemed like everything Rivre Works (rental furniture company in LA) has to offer, cheese, 12 wall panels, 6 large custom made frames, and much more… The point I am making is an already grueling 400 mile drive along the I-10 Freeway was not going to be made any quicker with all that furniture in the back!

With a bag stuffed with snacks and drinks, we decided to make the most of our time in the cube.

A short 7 hour drive later, we arrived in Phoenix, which to be honest can be better described as a ghost town. For a Sunday it looked dead. Not a person in the street, not a car on the road, just the sound of a street light buzzing

Of course upon our arrival, all Dan and I wanted to do was go up to our rooms and sleep, but typically it wouldn’t be a blog from me unless something went wrong right? The reservations which had been made for us, were not valid until the next day… So on the phone we get, calling Pauline, who calls Vanessa, who calls the hotel, who then tell us we are in fact staying in a different hotel for that night, and then moving back to the hotel we were currently in the next night. Nothing like more driving after a nice 7 hour haul…

The next day…. Set up.

Setting this gallery up was a real team effort. Our local carpenter Dennis Parry of DPC Woodwork and Bradley Delp were on hand to help us get the job done.

I at this point still wasn’t sure on how the room was going to come together, I mean I could see the furniture in the truck, I can see lots of random shapes, but how they are going to come together? I had no idea.

So Dennis Parry steps up to take the lead, we unload the truck in great time, all that’s left is to assemble the wall panels, load the frames, and then the surprise element. However, as in any catering job, you can only plan according to your surroundings… The same applies for design. We had hit a wall.

In this room we needed white carpet to be laid down, where we would then construct the walls onto. We waited 5 hours… 5 HOURS! For the carpet to arrive. We could not do any more until that was laid down. And 5 hours in catering time or design time is a day.

Finally the rental company arrives and provided what we needed, in steps the Aaron Kaniecki and Dennis Parry comedy construction duo. Those of you who may or may not know, Dennis is in fact my uncle, and we have had a previous experience with setting up these walls…

I realized upon this experience that I became a mind reader, Dennis would turn round and say “Son could you pass me the uh.. the uh…” and of course I would pass him the drill, or the screws, or the ladder, or just get out the way…

And there was plenty of “Son you are holding the wall wrong.” “Son you are passing me the screws wrong” And of course if he screwed something in wrong, dropped something, couldn’t find something…. “SSSOOONNN!!!!” you know who was to blame…

Of course this was all light hearted, and we actually got the walls set up in great time. Word of the day was Plum. Dennis would look over to me while holding the wall and say “Son is that plum?” “I don’t know Dennis I consider it more of a peach myself” to which he of course then explained how plum meant straight…

Now here is where it got interesting. The walls were set up, and mounted onto those walls were frames… then mounted onto the frames, were parts of cow… not real cow (like Lady Gaga's living room), polystyrene cow… as you can see from the pictures, it was split into three sections. I couldn’t help but say half way through… does any one else notice we are hanging a cow on the wall? It looked amazing though, the cow was 3D, just coming outside the frame, creating a modern art effect.

The 12 foot table was then constructed in the center of the room, florals came in, then the finale, the cheese cake. But not your typical cheese cake… a REAL cheese cake. The base was made with Parmesan, The next tier was three wheels of bri, Then a wheel of gouda, followed by a wheel of stilton. This was then decorated using hand made paper flowers from Mille Fiori. I had to hand it to the team, it was defiantly different…

The next day was the opening of the wedding gallery, and my oh my… what a reception… We were one of the first that people would see as they came through the doors. People would almost do a double take at our wall… come over to one of us and say… “excuse me.. is that a cow on the wall?”

“Yes” I would reply, one is Collin and the other is Isabelle, they fell madly in love on a trip to France…” People loved it.

Of course there was also a great response to our “Cheese Cake” People just loved the originality, snapping their cameras every second to take every detail home with them… the gallery was a great success.

The next day arrives, and it was time to break down. This time our local carpenter was no longer around to assist with the process, so it was up to me and my DIY skills to bring this thing down… and knowing Dennis Parry will be counting every screw, piece of wood and material, this process had go perfect…. “Gulp!”

Dan, myself and two fantastic helpers worked together to bring this gallery of amazing-ness down, and squeeze it back into our cube truck. Screw by screw, cow piece by cow piece, the gallery came down, and was done in record time! Dennis would have been proud… and I also proved my dad wrong! He used to say I wouldn’t know which way round to hold a hammer… PAH!

After an exhausting few hours, Dan and I looked at each other, and had the exact same thought… no words were needed… we both knew it was time for happy hour.

So quick shower, change and back out again to a local Irish pub we had been hearing about the whole trip. Seamus’ McCaffrey’s pub it was called…

Upon our arrival it was something I did not expect, out the shuttle we jumped to a an incredible reception… I thought I was a movie star for a moment… women screaming at me, screaming “We know you! we know you!” of course I look up, and struggle to see where the commotion is coming from. “WE KNOW YOU! WE KNOW YOU!” then right there in front of us, on the patio of this bar were young women… know I don’t mean to sound like a lad, but I have seen quite a few women in my time, and I couldn’t quite remember where I know these girls from. So I do what any other guy would do in that situation… Pretend like I did remember….

It wasn’t until someone at the back of the group was still screaming, and let out a cry “CaterArts!” the penny dropped. These are the people I met while we were in Kentucky for CaterArts! It suddenly all made sense! Which meant that along with these people would be our friend Kimberly Jones of Sullivan University.

So we went into the Irish bar, which was only next door, and gave Kim a call, where she then joined us for a cheeky beverage.

7 Pints for me and 9 Glasses of red wine for Dan later….we felt it was time to venture off and find the rest of our GG! family… next thing I remember, is waking up… Great night.

So following the crazy unload, the frantic set up, the confused questions, the amazing break down, and the intense reloading of the truck, it was time for Dan and I to hit the road and begin our journey back to Los Angeles….

What started as a hesitant decision to go along, became one I was glad I had made. I learned so much from others in our industry, and now believe that A – Type personalities can come together to create the most amazing designs. The most humbling part, is when people would come back by our booth and say to us quietly “yours is the best…” Though that’s not the point, it’s always nice to hear.

Phoenix, Thanks for the memories.

Key Learning Points:

• Phoenix AZ, is a bloody long way from Los Angeles.

• You will be surprised what can fit into a cube truck with the right level of organization

• I do know which way round to hold a hammer

• Plum Means Straight

• Working with creative partners can result in amazing original innovative designs.

• Collin and Isabelle loved each other very much

• And if you are reading this, that means Dennis has counted the screws, got all of them back, along with his materials and tools… and therefore spared my life (Phew…)

1 comment:

  1. Very educational and witty post in sharing your experiences being a part of an incredibly creative team in designing a VERY memorable set and putting WIPA at the forefront.

    Love GGE and all my WIPA colleagues from LA!

    Can't wait to finally meet you in person this week.