Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Art Under the Elms

Smaller shows by and large seem to be the trend for 2008, at least for many of the artists I’ve been talking to lately. With costs at most of the larger venues raising significantly over the past few years and then add to that the astronomical fuels costs getting to these further away shows, many artists are staying closer to home and doing smaller festivals.

That’s not to say that ALL artists are leaning this way but I am seeing that trend grow.

I stayed rather close to home last weekend (if you feel that 200 miles is close) and did a little show in Lewiston, ID called Art Under the Elms. I’ve done this show for 5 years in a row and usually I start thinking about giving a show a breather and take a year off if I start to feel that I am saturating the market by attending it year after year. That isn’t the case with this show because it’s set on the campus of Lewis and Clark College. Being a college show, I’m always graced with a “new crop” of buyers each year due to the turn over of students.

This is a three-day show that really needs to become a 2-day affair. It has become apparent; at least to me by way of doing an informal poll of my customers that the attendance numbers would remain the same even if the show were cut to Saturday and Sunday only. I hope that the promoters take note of my comments on their survey they hand out to each artist for our feedback.

The cooler weather and sporadic rain showers on Friday kept the buyers at home. Sales were way off for everyone I spoke with. Saturday and Sunday’s sunshine and warmer weather really brought out the crowds though. Sales were fantastic and more than made up for Friday’s lack of people.

This year the festival needed to be moved from it’s original spot to a lawn area a half a block away but still on campus. The college is building a new wing and the show’s previous location was chosen for the new building. A move like this in usually a bad sign but the close proximity to the old location made it seamless to us, the artists, as well as our customers.

Parking at festivals is almost always a problem for the artist. Once I unload my trailer and set up my booth I must try and locate suitable parking for my rig. Because I sleep in my trailer, I’m always on the look out for a space close to my booth as well as somewhere that isn’t too noisy. This year I was lucky enough to find just the spot on one of the side streets close to the show. I set up on Thursday night and enjoyed a peaceful nights sleep both that night and Friday night too. Before parking there I asked a person who looked like they knew what they were talking about and got the go a head to park my truck and trailer there for the weekend.

All was well until 6:00 AM Saturday morning when I was woken by what I can only describe as dragsters driving up and down the street. Load, obnoxious roars of these engines were enough to get my attention, as was the phone call to my cell from the show promoter. It seems that the person I asked about parking there neglected to mention that there was going to be a car show set up on the street I was parked on. Over 100 vintage roadsters were setting up their cars for a “show and shine” all while I was trying to catch a few more winks before I went to my booth.

Even without the promoter asking me to move my rig it was apparent that unless I wanted my 2005 Chevy Silverado sitting right in the middle of this car show, I was going to have to get nearly 100 tricked out cars to move enough for me to drive my truck and trailer out of the area.

The first few drivers didn’t seemed to mind backing up a few feet in order for me to squeeze by but the next guy was evidently peeved enough with me for parking there in the first place that he refused to move. After trying to calmly reason with this Fonzy want to be, I decided to inform him that scratching the bumper on my truck or trailer wasn’t that big a deal to me but if didn’t want the $10,000 plus paint job on his 1968 Chevelle harmed, he better back up a few inches.

Now I did say that with a grin on my face, which I thought, would have mellowed his attitude a bit but he still refused to budge. Not only do I have my show’s promoter calling again saying I have to get my truck out of there ASAP, I have dozens of angry car guys honking and yelling at me to split. I decided to give the Fonz one more chance and informed him that I would gladly pay my car insurances $500.00 deductible when I unfortunately plowed into his car if he didn’t move. I think the thought of all the hours this guy had into his car brought him to his senses and he backed up enough for me to get my truck by.

I moved out of there and found another parking spot and tried not to let this stress ruin my day. It didn’t and look, it even turned out to be a great story to pass on.

Art Under the Elms

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