Monday, July 20, 2009
Well, I'd say that my first outdoor art fair was a success.
I was the first artist to arrive at the Art on Groton Bank site, at the Bill Memorial Library lawn in Groton. Two of the organizers were there already, and I'll just say that one was fairly organized while the other was well-meaning but fairly disorganized.
I waited for about a half an hour to see if decisions would be made, then I pretty much took my life in my hands and started to set up the tent.
I had some very minor issues, but all in all, for my first time out, the set-up went smoothly, and the display looked fine. Peter took some photos, which I will post when he gets them to me.
I had wire panels along two walls, with paintings hanging along the entire inside, and on the outside of one of the panels. I'd thought I had brought too many paintings, but I could have brought more. And I should buy more screens, if I can find them. I bought these 20 years ago, for Peter, and they have withstood shows, many moves and several major floods, and still work - and look good.
I invited all my friends from the area, and two came, and that was wonderful. I'm so glad to show my new paintings to people who have been following my work. Even though this was a very small show, hundreds of people visited my tent, spent some time, wanted to hear about my painting, the Art for Shelter Animals Project, Arizona - and just connect. A lovely woman from Groton bought one of my favorite pieces, so it was a financially successful day as well as a fun one.
I've thought a lot about the differences between a gallery show and an outdoor fair, and I'm beginning to understand my skittishness about doing this outdoor stuff. In a gallery, I can be pretty well assured that there will be a crowd, and that it will be made largely of my friends and supporters. There will be no distractions. I might be showing with another person, but there will not be 20 other artists vying for the attention and spending power of the attendees. The reception is likely to be strongly positive, because the event is engineered to be positive.
The outdoor fair is so much more of a crapshoot. My work has to stand out - but still appeal to the kind of person who goes to a fair. It has to be priced right - too expensive, and no one will buy it. Too cheap, and people will think it might be junk. I have to be friendly but not pushy, available but not intrusive, interesting but not off-putting. I have to be ready to sell, but happy just to make the connection, start the relationship.
So, it's a new challenge, a new set of skills to develop.