2012 Lawton Arts for All Festival (review)

Now with 100% more floor!

The weather cleared up, the crowd was dense, the location was decent, but.. ehhh… hrm. In the four years I’ve done this show, I’ve never made a profit. I’m on the fence about doing it next year.

How to show up late, but set up early
The show started Friday at 4pm. We had two choices: set up Friday morning, or Thursday afternoon. The forecast called for a slight 8,500% chance of rain on Friday (starting at 3:00am). I thought it would be better to show up before it started raining, but that would put me in a bind because of how much stuff I had to get reprinted after the high turnout at Edmond last week. So I split the difference! I called ahead to get permission to set up late on Thursday. And by “late”, I mean 11:30pm.

it's 1:30am, I have a pile of booth, and a forehead-mounted flashlight. Go!

Luckily I worked up enough consciousness in the night to verify my hotel reservation across town. There really is a cutoff time on these things! If I didn’t show up by 3:00am, I would have lost the reservation without a refund. I assembled the booth and made it out just in time. It started sprinkling at 2:45am.

Notice I have my roof this time! I never make the same mistake twice. I try to make different mistakes, gotta mix it up.

The blessing and curse of the street.
The show takes place right next to Gore Blvd, one of the main east/west paths through the city. The art festival allows some of us (as many as physically possible) to park on the street next to the show, and if we’re lucky enough to have a booth on the north end of the show, we can park so close that we can bump the back of our booth with the passenger door as we’re loading up! That’s so awesome that only the likes of Sir Ranulph Fiennes would be qualified enough to fully explore this colossal mountain of awesomeness.

In order from left to right: road (not visible), van, curb, booth, people.

The downside of being so close to the road is having to put up with all the traffic being choked down to one lane. Lawton seems to contain a disproportionate number of Ford Mustang fans, and with all the engine-revving, it seems that Mustang drivers revel in reminding the world that they’re driving a Mustang. Lawton also has folks with zillion-watt stereos who are more than eager to share their music collection as they wait at the nearest stop light. (Curiously, I never heard any classical or ambient music. I’ll see if they take requests next time.) Some people yell obscenities at us, and I’ve also had stuff thrown at me in the past. But come to think of it, they don’t seem to be upset — hooting and hollering and throwing crap passes for humor around these parts.

That parking convenience comes at a price.

I feel out of place.
(Oh, this is a delicate topic. How do I say this..) Let’s just say I finally found a potential market for my not-yet-invented wifi-enabled robotic flame-shooting trucknuts and corresponding smartphone app.

This crowd is looking for certain stuff, and I get the sneaking suspicion my stuff ain’t exactly at the top of their list. I might have to diversify my portfolio to involve more folded-up coke cans and walky-dog puppets.

Looking for a way to make a living on “thank you’s”
People walk into my booth, look around, then right as they’re leaving, they say “thank you.” It’s a pleasant gesture, but I’m not sure what they’re thanking me for — I didn’t give them anything. Maybe it’s a condensed version of “thank you for coming to this show and letting me look at your stuff.” If so, well.. I do feel altruistic most of the time, but when I calculate my finances year after year and keep coming to the conclusion of “doing this show will put me $500 in the hole”, something’s gotta give.

Anyway…
I’m off to get ready for Tulsa Mayfest. If it will be anything like the madhouse of last year, I might have to pull another all-nighter to get enough stuff printed.

Random quotes from the show:

  • Mom and her son walking into my booth — Mom: “See the barn?” Son: “I don’t see the barn.”
  • Another mom and son walking through a neighboring booth of sculptures — Son: “Did god make them?” Mom: “No, an artist made them.” Son: “What’s an artist?”
  • Dad barking at his kid trying to enter my booth: “Don’t walk on his floor!”
  • A neighboring artist watched my booth for a few minutes, and after I returned, he leaned over and whispered his reaction to my visitors’ tendency to blurt out what they see — “Bathtub! House! …Very good!” Without missing a beat, I followed it up with: “Now, chapter two: Personal Finance. How To Buy Stuff!”
This entry was posted in Art Festival Reviews.