2013 Tulsa Mayfest review – “Hey! Put the camera down and PACK IT UP!”

— shouted a Tulsa police officer as I was taking this shot:

But, officer! The clouds are so cool!

He had a point. A tornado just finished mixing up an Edmond-Carney smoothie and was planning to deliver some leftovers to us. This four-day long three-day show had its ass-end cut off — authorities shut down the show early and everybody was told to GTFO with a quickness. (This was the day before Moore got hit.)

Set Up — Booth 45, 47.. Nope, how about Booth 48?

They sent me an email three weeks ahead of time which said “Your Booth Number is 45.” Great! As long as I’m not across the street from those shouty people who harvest contact information by teasing us with a fancy-ass car, I’m happy.

I called up Mayfest on Wednesday afternoon saying that I might show up late. They said the check-in area would close at 4:30pm, but they also said they changed my booth — I was now in 47. That’s fine, it’s still in the same neighborhood.

I arrived at 3:55pm. I have time to find my booth spot on the way to the check-in area — 49.. 48.. someone’s booth.. 46.. 45.. waitaminute. go back: [forty six], [booth with all the walls closed up and nobody inside], [forty – that’s what I thought it said – eight]. I’m glad I was heading to the check-in area anyway.

“Hello, I’m so-and-so, I was supposed to be in booth 45, last I heard I was moved to 47, but there’s already a tent in 47. Should I set up in my original location of 45? It looks like it’s a corner. That would be nice!”

“We really apologize, but there has been some confusion on your block. The director of the show will meet you out near booth 47.” (Exit stage left.) “Yeah, 45 is already taken, how about 48?” I tell you what, I’ll hurry up and build this thing before you move me again. Deal!

Booth 48 (I think)

6:00pm rolls around. I’m mostly done with the booth, and another artist walks up, “Sorry to bother you, but where is the check-in tent?” I’m nothing but apologetic bad news in the shape of a person. I direct her to the building just past the 5th street intersection, but since the volunteers said they were closing at 4:30, I also give her the two phone numbers I have for the office.

Back to the tent (velcro this, hang that up, tie this down…) She and her husband come back after a moment, but now they have that “who the hell is running this place” look in their eyes. (Uh oh.)

“You were right, the office was locked, but they’re not answering any of their numbers.” Here’s the clincher, “We were supposed to be in booth 7, but there’s already a booth in our spot! Who can we talk to?”

(Oh, Mayfest, you’re so much better than this. Come on.) I take the initiative, “I’ll tell you what, since only half of the artists are here, and there’s no way for them to check in until tomorrow, pick an open spot that looks good! If managements wants to turn this place into a free-for-all, I say take advantage of it!” The couple seemed pretty excited about being rebellious! I have no idea where they ended up!

The Sound

It’s asleep. Don’t wake it.

I have already spent most of my existence enjoying the rhythmic thumpiness of electronic music, so between that and the two music stages at this show, it’s a miracle I can still hear. Having my booth equidistant between the two stages at Mayfest was a cacophonous mess. I couldn’t tell, but it sounded like one stage had 80’s butt-rock dubstep remixes, while the other had europop-rap-country fusion.

But then there was the Verizon tent. It was five booths away, and I thought of it as the unofficial third stage. Unlike that car booth from last year, they didn’t have a megaphone — they instead had a wall of speakers and their own playlist coming from any of the several dozen Android devices they had on display. (I spoke to a potter who was right next to the Verizon tent, and he said his sales were pathetic. Verizon was on one side, and the south stage was pointing right at him.)

Just like that car booth from last year, why is it here? It’s not an art booth, not a food vendor, and not part of the show itself. We artists are prohibited from “hawking” — the sales technique that involves standing out front and yelling, “step right up and check out all this cool crap we got! Just give us your email address and phone number and we’ll give you a free rain poncho with our logo all over it so you’ll be a walking billboard while we make a zillion bucks selling your contact info to marketing companies!” Verizon had a microphone and wasn’t afraid to use it.

That was a constant for the first three days of the show, and it took an act of god to shut them up.

The Fury

new breakdancing move

A fellow photographer, and avid reader of my site (Hi, Don!) had already heard my many rants about the Verizon booth over the past few days. On sunday he joked, “You just got in this morning. When did you find the time to set charges around the base of their tent?” (Oh, if I had done it, there wouldn’t have been any parts left.)

But tisk tisk, Verizon… I suspect somebody didn’t attach their ratchet straps properly. Your booth had 55-gallon barrels as weights for each corner. That sucker shouldn’t have budged.

got any jokes about “Verizon’s coverage area”?

And what’s with those cones you ask? Former home of a light pole:

Welp.

At least six artists lost their booths when the storm came through Saturday night. My booth however was fine. I was attached to a bollard:

Bollards aren’t going anywhere, I’m not going anywhere.

If you do this show (or any outdoor show), I cannot emphasize this enough — ATTACH YOUR BOOTH TO THE EARTH.

I don’t mind people photographing in my booth

Especially if they have a “News Channel something-or-other” logo on their shirt.

Click for video (see the 0:40 second mark)

The PSO Building

Certain photos resonate with people from certain cities. Stillwater loves the OSU Student Union. Edmond loves the Tired house (even though it isn’t what they think it is). Here in Tulsa, it’s the PSO building. Sweet Jesus, everybody has a story about this thing!

  • “I live right across the street from that!”
  • “Wow, you made that eyesore look really good!”
  • “I’ve been trying to get a good photo of that for years.”

I sold all (three) of the prints I brought, and sold one of the canvases to a PSO employee!

Thanks for the brochure ..wait, come back! I have a question!

Someone dropped off a postcard for their local business. They are just around the corner from the show and offer snacks and things for a fraction of the price that you could find at the food court.

decent prices too!

And they don’t require pesky Mayfest coupons! That’s awesome! Oh, what’s on the other side?

condoms, bananas, drink mixes, pain aids

Cool, they’ve got chips and things and.. hold on… Why are the condoms and bananas next to eachother? Candles, corkscrews and pain aids? What kind of weekend are they planning for us?

What the hell is this thing, and why is it getting a bath in an alley?

“I’ll swallow your soul, but I have to clean up first.”

From the “Too Much Information” Department

When my parents stopped by to visit, my mother brought me some bacon to munch on. It wasn’t part of anything as fancy as a sandwich, just bacon in a little bag. I appreciate that she loves me so very much, but my diet for the first day consisted of water, Gatorade, a free QT ham & cheese sandwich from the volunteers (they were out of chicken salad on croissant), some trail mix, and bacon. Combine my diet with the weather and the large courtyard behind my booth, and now I’m intimately familiar with the concept “fart in a windstorm”! (Maybe we have another clue as to how the Verizon tent went down…)

Overall,

Don’t let the wind and noise get you down! This is a fantastic show!

Quotes From The Show

  • “Is this original photography?” (Actually Don got this one, but I’m going to borrow it!)
  • “These almost look real! They look like paintings!”
  • (Looking at the Ashtub photo) — “That’s the best stupid photo I’ve ever seen!”
  • “Got any twin towers?”
  • “Put the camera down and PACK IT UP!” (Tulsa Police. See above.)

Paseo is the final show this season! Let’s hope the printer repair guy comes by soon enough so I can get a couple more canvases done. Otherwise, I’m just bringing my Mayfest leftovers.

This entry was posted in Art Festival Reviews.