The Tulsa group Local Art Matters (LAM) have updated their website with information about the upcoming spring show, which coincidentally occurs on the same weekend as both Tulsa Mayfest and the ‘recently resurrected’, and formerly managed by LAM for nearly the past decade, the Tulsa Blue Dome show!
This is getting good!
Personal Response (which evolves into a critique of the Fall Brady Show)
In the two years that I have been offering my work for sale, I have attended 20 art festivals. That might not sound impressive to the seasoned veterans of the art show circuit, but my variety of shows is such that I feel qualified to comment on the circuit in general. I have done out-of-state shows (one being in a castle on a South Carolina beach, and another in a busy street in downtown Tucson), I have been in mall shows where publicity was so non-existent that even the security guards didn’t know why we were there, and I’ve been to a show where the music was so loud that customers had to literally yell in my ear to tell me which photo they wanted to buy.
I really want to tell you that I sold something at every single show, but unfortunately that would be a lie. There were two shows where I didn’t sell a single thing. One show was in 2008, where inclement weather forced it to relocate, and the only place it could be moved on such short notice was to a huge barn that smelt of cow manure. The other show where I didn’t sell anything was the Fall Brady Show in 2009.
This was the first time that the Brady Arts District had an art festival of its own, and one of the big rules for artists is to “never do the first show”. Then again, I did that a couple years ago for a show in a mostly-abandoned mall and grossed $350.
The problem was that there was no crowd at Brady. I could have driven up and down the middle of the show and not hit anybody — in fact, somebody on a motorcycle actually drove through the show, twice! But as I watched it happen, it seemed less like a motorcycle, and more like a tumbleweed. Did nobody hear of the show ahead of time? Where was it being advertised? Attendance was utterly dismal, despite this being organized by the same folks that brought us the Blue Dome Arts Festival for nearly a decade, and despite this being what LAM refers to “an art show in an arts district“!
I don’t mean to cheapen any show with this assessment, but I suspect that the poor attendance was due to the lack of a “Tulsa Mayfest” right next door. I’m afraid it will continue to suffer until it can either change the layout of the city, or generate its own gravity well.
- All three shows will be held on the same weekend.
- Mayfest is a gravity well, pulling in around 350,000 visitors during its four day run.
- Blue Dome is mostly accessible to the Mayfest crowd due to the array of parking lots between it and Main St. (Mayfest).
- Due to Blue Dome’s near decade-long appearance, it has arguably made a name for itself and many visitors are there for Blue Dome instead of Mayfest.
- Mayfest is so crowded that it feels less like a relaxing place to enjoy artwork, and more like a cattle drive full of people.
- The Mayfest crowd might find it difficult to get to the Brady district on foot:
- A cluster of tall buildings have recently blocked Main St. from 1st to 3rd Streets.
- The bridges going across the railroad tracks on the other side of those buildings are not pedestrian friendly.
- However! The Brady District is home to both the Brady Theater and Cain’s Ballroom and should already be considered its own gravity well.
- “should”… So again, why did we have such a dismal turnout last year?
I am applying to the shows in this order: (1) Mayfest, (2) Blue Dome, (3) Brady. I sincerely doubt that I’ll get into Mayfest — it’s way too competitive, and there aren’t many open spots since they automatically invite the previous year’s artists back the next year. I’m already accustomed to Blue Dome, and even though it’s probably under new management, I’m pretty sure the crowd will be there. As for Brady, I got burned by it last year, so I’m taking a ‘wait and see’ attitude… If it just takes off, then great! But I’m not holding out much hope this year.