29 June 2009

Show Report: Park Point Art Fair

This past weekend I attended the Park Point Art Fair in Duluth, Minnesota, and I have to say that this is one of my favorite shows to do.  Even though it is small (120 artists) this show is very nicely juried and the organizers really, really love their artists.  The show is held on Park Point, a small park at the far end of a barrier island on Lake Superior, and is organized by the Park Point Community Club, whose members are local residents.  It is far and away the easiest set-up and tear-down of any show on the planet.  Not only can you drive right up to your booth to unload, but you can actually park right behind your booth!  Heck, stay there all weekend if you want!  Set up is on Friday, with the show running 10-5 on both Saturday and Sunday (civilized hours!).  In addition, they feed the artists a nice picnic dinner on Saturday evening, and give out category and Best of Show awards.  A nice twist to the awards is that the Best of Show winner each year is offered a commission to design and make the awards for the category winners in the next year.  Last year's winner was David Royce, a glass artist whose color work is phenomenal.  The awards he made for this year's winners were stunning and drew a lot of attention.

This is my third year at this show, and I consider it to be somewhat of a working vacation.  I enjoy camping at Jay Cooke State Park and going up a day or two early to go hiking and to enjoy the park.  That being said, it is still an art show and I do care about how my work is received and overall sales.  My experience in the past two years, and the current economic climate suggested to me that I should lower my expectations for the show this year.  Imagine my surprise when my sales were twice what I expected.  Twice!  I was very gratified to have former customers stop in to say "hi" and to confirm how much they love their bracelets, purchased in years past.  I also had several people come through and look once, and then return for a major purchase.  It seem that although people are buying fewer items these days, they are still buying, but are being more thoughtful about which items they purchase.  I was flattered and humbled that several people chose to buy my work for their one purchase.  I truly do appreciate it!

Finally, I have to say something about the weather!  If you were in eastern Minnesota this past weekend, you already know what I'm going to talk about:  THE WIND!!!  Saturday began with rain, and then was just a bit chilly all day, but Sunday brought strong (warm) winds.  Strong.  The sustained winds were around 30 mph, with gusts routinely over 40 mph.  The highest recorded gust at the Duluth airport was 49 mph!  My sturdy Trimline canopy withstood the onslaught just fine, and I wasn't even staked into the ground!  My only weights were four 40 pound bags of salt, each strapped to the frame.  The wind was unnerving, and bowed the rear wall panel in, but the frame itself never lifted off the ground.  It only began inching along the ground in the last hour when the gusts were at their strongest.

I never really felt that my canopy was going to blow away, but the stress of the wind took it's toll on me none-the-less and I confess that I began removing my jewelry from display about 20 minutes early.  That was also about the time that some ugly looking black clouds appeared to the north.  As it turns out, many artists began dismantling their display around 4:30, so I was not alone in feeling that it was time to pack up.  Fortunately, the show organizers agreed that the wind was getting to be a bit too much!  It was wonderful how artists and show volunteers pitched in to help bring down canopies in the high winds.

I love this show, and am already planning on next year!!

18 June 2009

Show Report: Wells Street Art Festival

This past weekend, June 13-14, was the Wells Street Art Festival, just north of downtown Chicago, and put on by Special Events Management.  This was my first time at Wells Street, and my second show with these promoters.  Like the nearby Old Town Art Fair, held on the same weekend, Wells Street has an admission fee ($7-$10), which is supposed to be a "donation", but I don't think you can get in without paying.

Saturday was a very long day for the artists, as booth set-up could only occur in the morning.  I got up at 5 AM to drive into town for my 6:45 time slot.  In theory you can drive right up to your booth to unload, but once inside the street barriers, all traffic came to a complete stop.  I sat for 25 minutes before deciding to dolly my stuff the 40 feet (didn't realize I was that close!!) to my booth.  Twice I had to move my truck up as the line moved (I drove about 30 feet each time, seriously!), but overall the unloading was rather painless.  When I was accepted to this show I had the option of spending $60 for a spot in a reserved parking lot, which I did, and that turned out to be an excellent decision.  First of all, I did not have to spend any time or mental anguish trying to find a parking spot where you can leave your vehicle for 12 hours.  Secondly, the parking lot was only one long block from my booth, which meant that at the end of the weekend, I could dolly my stuff to the truck rather than waiting for the street to open up to traffic.  

Saturday also became a long day because of the weather.  The morning was rainy and cold, and I know several people, including me, got wet shoes in the morning, which meant that by the end of the day (8PM) we were quite chilled.  Thank goodness I thought to bring a fleece hat and gloves!  I have made a note to myself that in similar situations in the future that I need to pack at least a spare pair of dry socks, if not a complete change of shoes.

So, other than the cold rain for the first half of Saturday, how was the show?  From my perspective, it was a good show.  Other than a few booths which should NOT have been juried in, the caliber of artist was quite high.  I had pretty good sales, considering the weather and the economy.  I had mentally prepared myself for an arduous set-up and tear-down, but both went more smoothly than I anticipated.  I will definitely apply to this show again.