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!!


Jake Kapsner said...

wow, we're honored by your compliments, Jan-Ra. As a co-coordinator (or rather a volunteer married to the coordinator), it's fantastic to hear such praise for the show, which the community labors lovingly over year after year, with great respect for the artists. Very glad hear that you were successful. Best of luck all year long, and hope to see you this year at the Park Point Art Fair.
Jake Kapsner

Jan-Ra said...

Hi Jake! I am glad someone from the show saw this. Everyone needs feedback about their work, artists and show organizers, good and bad. I am very, very sorry to say that I won't be able to attend this year. One of my best friends is getting married on the 26th, and I won't miss her wedding!