If I could do a show like this every two weeks, I wouldn’t need a day job.
But I gotta get something out of the way first…
Either I’ve been photographing since age 6, or there’s more than just one crooked house in the universe.
There’s one constant about doing this Edmond show, and it’s how much everybody seems to recognize my “Tired” house. They react with:
- “Is that the old twisted house that stood on the corner of 122nd and Broadway?”
- “That looks a lot like the old twisted house that stood on the corner of 122nd and Broadway.”
- While pointing at my print, “Where is that from?” (It was on Highway 33 west of Guthrie.) “Oh. Well, there used to be one down on 122nd and Broadway, but it was more twisted than that one you got.” (Uhh.. if you already know that it looks different than the one in your head, why do you need to verify whether it’s the one you’re thinking of?)
- “I know this isn’t the same one…” (here we go, now you’re getting it..) “But have you heard about this old twisted house that stood on the corner of 122nd and Broadway?” (No, never heard of it. Do tell…)
Here’s what I know:
That particular house “on 122nd and Broadway” has somehow been embedded in the consciousness of every single inhabitant of Edmond, Oklahoma, even though the structure has been gone for several decades. Just before it was to be declared a state historical site, some punk-ass kids set fire to it in the night. If the rumors are true that it actually went down in 1982, it’s nigh on impossible that I could have taken a photograph of it. Not only did I not own a camera then, but I lived in Kansas and had never heard of Edmond, Oklahoma.
And here’s the best part: In 1982, I was six years old and could barely read!
(Anyway, back to the review of the show!)
Our own photography show inside the show
I’ve done this show for the past five years, and the layout used to confuse the hell out of me. For the first three years, I was across from another photographer. Last year, I was in a conga line of photography booths all on one side of the street. But after thinking about it, the layout this year was equally baffling, yet somehow brilliant!
Most big shows are really careful to equally space apart artists from similar media. This gives visitors a sense of variety as they walk through — but not in Edmond! They cluster us together like competing brands of hot dogs on a Walmart shelf, and I was on the side next to the spicy sausage (..mmm!)
Actually, there was the booth of a sculptor (the impressive Sean Corner) trapped in a sea of photographers! He had a photography booth to his left, one across the street to the left, a double-wide photography/painting booth directly across the street, and my booth was immediately to his right. The directors were either thinking, “All the photographers know each other and get along anyway, why not put them together!” or “Sean’s awesome work will pull in a lot of customers for these photographers to borrow from!” If you put friends together, you tend to get a positive vibe which lifts the atmosphere of the entire show. By the end of the show, all of my neighbors said their sales were strong and looked forward to having the same booth spot next year. Whatever happened, I’m fine with it happening again!
Reaction to my canvas
The more shows I do, the higher the likelihood of encountering repeat visitors and former customers. I get to ask how things are hanging (..the photos they bought), and see what they think of my latest work. But sometimes a repeat visitor will notice that I changed something, and this year brought the most noticeable change ever — I switched to canvas frames, and re-thought my matted prints.
A previous customer visited on Saturday and expressed disappointment that I switched to canvas. The discussion was friendly, but she thought my canvas prints looked “cheap” in comparison to the wood frames that she purchased from me in the past. She encouraged me to bring both wood frames and canvas to offer customers a choice.
I didn’t really have an answer that wouldn’t have sounded self-serving. I still have most of my traditional framed pieces, but if I displayed them along with the canvas, the booth wouldn’t have the cohesive look & feel I’m going for. The traditional prints would be at a disadvantage simply because they’re smaller at the same price.
I switched to canvas for several reasons: convenience of transport (they’re so light that I don’t have to get my van’s suspension replaced every year), the thickness and presence of a gallery wrap is more dominating, and I can print them at enormous sizes. I created a centerpiece out of my “Monument Valley Sunset” photo. At 24″x48″, it has much more of an impact than the largest size I was offering last year — they were all 12″x24.
Aside from the one negative critique, the reaction was overwhelmingly lopsided in the other direction. (I eventually brought some of my traditional wood/glass framed pieces, not only to try her suggestion, but to fill in the empty spaces after I sold so many canvas frames. The traditional frames didn’t sell at all.) This was obvious by the massive number of visitors who not only loved my decision to use canvas, but some of them didn’t even remember seeing my booth last year. It’s the same set of images, but my booth just didn’t stand out then. It was also enough to finally impress the judges — this was the first time I won an award at this show (third place overall!)
This was my highest grossing show so far. Y’all better get used to canvas. That means I need to update the banner photo at the top of the site.. Heck, I don’t even live there anymore! :)