Monday, July 13, 2009
Art Fairs are such interesting things
I just finished participating in the 28th Artsfest here in Angel Fire. I was a vendor and I was also a member of the Moreno Valley Arts Council that puts on this show annually. We do it with a lot of volunteer help and more energy then we always think we have. It came off well again this year but we still don't think we have it just right so we are going to be meeting to discuss some new ideas that arose.
Art fairs for the participant are very different beasts than they are for the visitor. An interesting chemistry occurs that is probably not that different than what can be found at temporary shelters or tent cities or army base camps. Most of us know each other from other temporary "camps" and those that are new have generally been at enough other "camps" to know the ground rules. Setting up in your little 10 by 10 foot space, moving your walls and displays and wares in though less openings than would be nice, reading through a packet of information some important and some not, all while fighting off fatigue of just getting there creates a lot of interesting problems and survival depends on a lot of good will.
Like all neighborhood, temporary and permanent there is always the bad neighbor. We had one. We won't have her next year. The board has some power there; it is our football field and we get to say who plays. We get to direct a lot of things but attendance is always rather totally out of our hands. And last minute cancellations of artists. We always sweat that part. I am happy to report attendance was us. Sales were good for a depressed economy. And generally we all enjoyed the experience. That includes vendors, board members and attendees.
But there is always a series of events or happenings everyone finds interesting to gossip about if not at this fair then at fairs and receptions down the road. My "tale to dine out on" is about the picture in this blog. Falling Leaves was painted a couple years ago and was displayed at fairs and venues for a while. When it didn't sell it went up on the studio walls and got left there for a year or two. I had frantically painted four new paintings for this fair but did not have enough art to fill the booth and so Falling Leaves got a return engagement. It was the most talked about piece I displayed this weekend.
First night, our preview event party, a woman comes back to it four times. Husband comes with her and he low-balls me on an offer to buy. Low enough I find it rather insulting. I counter. He counters with another really low bid. I finally get less than nice and tell him my final price and that it must be cash. No credit cards. Saturday he doesn't show. Sunday in the final couple hours him and his wife are back. Some art fair goers think they can pick up bargains in the last minutes and truth be told you can but nothing as cheap as he wants to make them.
As he makes his way to my booth I toss around my options. He gives me an offer again less than the price on the painting or even my "discounted" offer. I looked him calmly in the eye and told him I was sorry but it was sold. It wasn't but I decided I just didn't want him to own it even if the cash money would have been nice. Even if he had met my asking price to be frank.
Today Falling Leaves will go back up on the studio walls. Maybe some of the other people interested in this piece will call. They took cards. But at least it is not hanging on this @#@$##'s walls. I have no control over who buys my art from a gallery but I do at a fair or in my studio. I think I like that power.