Blog Post #44

I’ve done three art festivals so far this year, and not made a single substantial blog post. This needs to change with a quickness.

First order of business: My Website

You’ve probably noticed that I have not yet uploaded my latest photos. I apologize, but I recently upgraded my computer and lost the settings for re-creating the flash gallery. I am working my butt off to replace it with a non-flash gallery which will not only have similar functionality, but will be much easier to update and will contain a LOT more photos!

ETA = “when I’m done with it”

If you are looking forward to purchasing a print from the Talimena Drive, Wichita Mountains, or Turner Falls, please contact me directly: jason@jwallacephoto.com

Brief rundown of the past three art festivals:

The Stillwater Art Festival (April 16-17) was a rip-roaring success!

Saturday could be summed up in the song, “Good Day Sunshine!” Pretty much every iteration of this show for the past ten years was a rainy mud pit, but that seemed to build up a decade of pent-up demand. The crowd was ferocious, and several of my images ran out of stock.

Sunday was a different story, and it could be summed up with, “Take The Money And Run.” The wind seemed to seemed to have a cheerful, boisterous quality as it attempted to blow our tents apart. While setting up on Sunday morning, the wind took a liking to my art panels. It lovingly caressed one panel and wanted to quickly take it home, assuming “home” is somewhere near Salina, Kansas.

The result, this corner attachment got mangled:

top: normal right-angle piece. bottom: the aftermath.

It was much safer to break down early Sunday than to risk another Utica-sized disaster. In my three solid years of doing art festivals, this was the very first show where I packed up early. I hoped to never do it again.

I had yet to attend Norman Mayfair (April 29 to May 1), so I didn’t know what to expect.

Friday’s song was “Everyone Knows It’s Windy!” That’s not really the song title, but I already used “Blowin’ in the Wind” last year. 50mph gusts.

I knew it was going to be windy, and combined with what happened at Utica and Stillwater, I went on a rampage. I bought a crapton of stuff to hold my booth together in a hurricane. Instead of 35lbs in each corner, I now have 100lbs. Each corner has 70lbs of surplus weight machine weights in a metal ammo box, and 30lbs of water in a plastic container with a lovely cat litter logo on the outside. Tent stakes, yes I have eight of the spiral stakes for dog chains, and they work wonders when the booth is in a grassy lot. The canopy has extra corner braces for rigidity. The Propanels have short connecting bars for keeping the corners true. They also have several overhead ‘hooks’ for connecting themselves to the canopy frame. Then the corner panels are attached to each corner of the canopy with three feet of double-sided velcro. Thanks to all that, my booth took the 50mph wind like it was nothing. At best, it just creaked and moaned. IT. DIDN’T. MOVE. Job done.

But it didn’t help with sales. Day one = $0.00.

Saturday was Lou Reed’s “Perfect Day”. Sunny, 80F, no wind. But there was a problem, and it was totally my fault. A third of the photos in my booth are from Stillwater. I am from Stillwater. There was a sign at the front of my booth implying, “if you walk into this booth, you will be in Stillwater!” Stillwater is the home of Oklahoma State University, which is the arch-nemesis of the University of Oklahoma in Norman. The rivalry goes back a billion years, and I was in the lion’s den.

Day two = I sold one little print.

Saturday also served as the eye of the storm, bookended by Friday’s wind and Sunday’s bitterly-cold rain.

Sunday just plain sucked. Every night during a show, I always pack up my artwork in my van. The next morning was pouring rain, and I was parked just far enough away to make it cumbersome. The show had an ‘inclement weather’ rule — if you hear thunder less than 20 seconds after seeing a lightning strike, the show will be canceled. After every lightning strike, I couldn’t count over seven seconds before the thunder hit, but that didn’t stop the show for some reason. The formerly-convenient grass (which allowed us to stake down in Friday’s wind) had now become a mud pit rivaling that of Woodstock 94.

There was no way to set up, so this was the second show where I packed up early.

I did not want to end the Downtown Edmond Arts Festival (May 6-8) on a sour note, so I decided to change things up.

By default, they always put each artist in the same booth location they had the previous year. And for the past three years, they insisted that I be directly across the street from another photographer’s booth. I thought that was odd, so I asked for a booth spot across the street and down a bit.

The disadvantage of running the booth by myself is that I rarely get a chance to see the rest of the show. But I learned a peculiar thing just by stepping out in front of the booth and looking up and down the street — I was only three booths down from the photographer who I used to be across from, and there was another photographer two booths down in the opposite direction. During a lull in the crowd, I worked up the courage to walk the entire three blocks of the show. I discovered that all of the  photographers (except two) were on the same side of the street as myself.

Now let’s combine that with the flow of the crowd. Most visitors walk the length of one side of the show, crossover at the end, then walk the other side. There’s very little crossover in the middle of the show. The east side of the street had an assortment of painters, sculptors, potters, pen & ink artists, jewelry and fine crafts, you name it. But the west side of the street went something like this: painting, photography, sculpture, photography, pottery, photography, jewelry, photography. My booth was in the middle of the middle block, and if the crowd followed the usual counter-clockwise flow, they would have already seen six other photographers before seeing my booth.. “oh great, another darn photographer..” By the third day, I started asking my customers (people who walked into my booth and actually bought something!) how much of the show they had seen. By far, the most popular answer was, “we just got here!” It made me wonder what happened to the folks who had been here for a while..

My sales were down compared to the past three years. Maybe it was my location, maybe it was just the economy and I’m just stupid paranoid. Who really knows. But I’ll try to get my original booth location back next year.

Next up, Lawton! And I will NOT forgot my roof this time!!

This entry was posted in General Discussion.

2 Comments

  1. Jenn May 10, 2011 at 8:41 pm #

    My husband is a photographer starting art shows at the end of this month (in Utah), and even though you are not anywhere close, I still enjoy reading about your art festival experiences (I found your blog a few weeks ago). Very entertaining! :)

  2. deborah hernandez June 3, 2011 at 11:14 am #

    I needed a good laugh…I was a neighbor in Paseo, and your works were beyond imagination…I truly enjoy your writings.