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Art and Greens

November 25th, 2013

Art and Greens

Art & Greens
White Lake
November 23 & November 24, 2013

I’d like to report that this was a fantastic show for sales. The crowds were good enough on Saturday, and almost not there at all on Sunday. This was my first time at this show so maybe next year it will be better. It really was cold outside on both days, but actually the weather was worse on Saturday, and considerably better on Sunday. Who knows? Maybe they were all home watching the Lions? Did the Lions play on Sunday? I don’t know.

The show had an attributes that I value which was that the management from the Huron Valley Artist’s Association (Leah Ohlmer) was on site, there & visible until well after the show closed. The heat was on in the Bogie Lake Greenhouse, even though the wind would rattle the plastic roof from time to time ensuring that you really understood what was going on outside. I am also always impressed with the other vendors and how friendly and amiable they almost always are to each other. Some that I met at Hamburg were right across the way. There can be long stretches of empty time so having someone to chat with is great.

I also finished a so-so work by Elmore Leonard - the Raylan Givens stories. Leonard is rarely so-so, but the pieces did not fit well in this case. I started another inherited novel called Gone Girl. The verdict is out on this one. I can never really complain about sales because it still amazes me that people not only part with their cash, but vocalize appreciation for the prints they buy. I thank them in disbelief that they have made such a foolish choice with their funds.

The venue was a huge operating greenhouse so the greenhouse was selling plants, wreaths, and other things that greenhouses sell at the holidays. They had cleared out large portions of the heated part of the operation for the art fair. This seems like it must have been a lot of work. The floor was concrete but slanted some so that plant water will run off. The reality was that it did not feel like the deck of a boat. It appeared flat. It was an excellent physical place for a winter show.

There are always inexplicable events at a show. At this one there were two parrots riding around on their humans. I’m not sure why, but they were there most of the day on Saturday. There was some fantastic number tossed around about how many parrots this group had rescued and taken in until they could be placed. Given the life span of parrots I hope these people have relatives that love parrots too!

Holidays in Haslett 2013

October 21st, 2013

Holidays in Haslett 2013

October 19, 2013

There is no question that this in a craft fair. It is even more so as time goes on, but it is well run and close to home. These are attributes which make it attractive.

I also have visits from people I know which is rare in non-local shows. Some of those that dropped by were: Clare & Ann Mortiz, Randy Roberts, Shirley Hall, Elaine Noffze, Connie Wolfe, Mary Jo Lott, and Charlene (last name?). Well it has been a while as all of these people were associated with Waverly Community Schools at one time or another. I appreciate folks coming by and saying hello. No purchase necessary!

Randy Roberts won my donated door prize (Wisteria 8 x 10). I really like it when people who win door prizes come by and say ‘thanks.’ He did. Appreciated!

I was in a new location in the main hallway which I liked. It was a bigger space and I could use all of my display walls, and put up about as much as I have in the way of canvas. I did not sell any canvas, but I had lots of browsers of my metal prints. I sold more than I did the last time I was in the show in 2011. The MSU football team won, against Purdue and the whole football thing did not slow did not slow the crowd down one bit as it has in the past.

I really appreciate it when previous customers say they have my work in their homes or offices. I had a number of customers come in to add to their collections. They do not always buy more, but their continued interest is appreciated.

No complaints except I wished I’d sold more, but I always wished I’d sold more. The sun was shinning when it was time to break down the display. I was appreciative of not having to carry out everything in a downpour!

On another note: I’ve decided to discontinue producing my calendar. I appreciate all the loyal customers over the years, but it never really took off. It is a quantity thing. I could not get the printing & bindery cost down enough, keep your cost down, maintain the quality, and not spend more than I was bringing in -- so it will not be produced. Sorry!

Hamburg Community Fine Art Fair 2013

October 13th, 2013

Hamburg Community Fine Art Fair 2013

2013 10 12

I always debate about these little shows, but I decided to try it this year. Nice show, and it is not so little with 44 vendors, and it really was a ‘fine art” fair! The topper was that it was held in the Hamburg Public Library. Nice, I like libraries. Can’t imagine.

Inside shows generally mean some sacrifice of space. It was. The spaces were 5 x 8’, but having done the MSU-UAB show for years it was OK. Traffic was light but steady all day. It also took until mid-afternoon before I sold a print. It makes for a long day. The wisdom going around from veterans was that attendance was down -- it was just too nice a day for potential attendees to think about being inside.

I ended up selling seven prints so it was well worth going to the show, just not overwhelming. I’m guessing I’d give it another try next year.

Art in the Park - Holland 2013

August 6th, 2013

Art in the Park - Holland 2013

Art in the Park - Holland
August 3, 2013

I always look forward to the Holland show because it is a well run show. Bonnie Lowe manages it, and there is rarely a hitch.

The show is held in Centennial Park in the downtown area of Holland near Hope College. It is an attractive park with old trees and a great water fountain. The other great thing about this show is that there is a low incidence of tattoos, and a concomitant level of shoppers actually interested in buying art.

The downside is that setup is at 6:30 AM with a 9:00 AM show opening. The timeframe is a little shallow for me, but it did not seem to matter to those right there on the dime. I generally do not sell much until the afternoon, but the afternoon was almost gone and I had not sold much! Most of my sales transpired between 3:15 and a little after 4:00. I don’t know why but it was moving fast after 3:15.

The classic group of three women came in and immediately set upon Rarely Perfect. It was classic in that there is really only one shopper, and the other two friends are advisors, helpers, and aide-de-camps. I have seen the same archetypal trio over and over. They generally can be fun.

There were discussions of the to be remodeled bedroom where Rarely Perfect would reside, the fact that no remodeling had been actually started, that there was a place where Rarely Perfect could hang in the mean time, and a fair amount of detail enumerating of the colors in the print which could be matched with walls, trim, bedspreads, etc. One carefully jumps in and out of these discussions not wanting to put off the intended before the credit card comes light. It goes to the phrase I have heard over and over from women, I’ll know it when I see it.” They do. She did. They were all happy. Me too!

Krystal ArtFest 2013

July 31st, 2013

Krystal ArtFest 2013

Krystal ArtFest 2013
Swartz Creek Kiwanis

July 27 & July 28, 2013

Change is generally a good thing .... but not always.

The Kiwanis decided to change the:
name of the show
location (Elm Park to Cage Fieldhouse)
outdoor to indoor show
number of days (one to two)
adding a $3.00 charge to get in the door!

The customers did not find out about all this as they were not there. I am sure there were notices, communication efforts, etc. that were implemented but they were not effective. For vendors it is always customers and sales. If there are customers there will be sales.

No self-respecting male person would actually pay to get into a local art fair unless their wife told them to pay. I like art fairs but I would not pay to get into one. I’ve been to dozens, and the ‘paid’ ones do not look any different than the ‘free’ ones. The same vendors are at both paid & free shows. I’d need there to be something waiting inside like free money or a free cold beer!

The only thing that really stayed the same was the great folks of the Swartz Creek Kiwanis with Richard Mattson as the chief good guy. I think this will probably all work out but it could take a few years. The tricks will be keeping vendors, and building customer awareness. Nobody likes to sit all day (Sunday) with almost no potential customers. Saturday was OK but not overwhelming.

The positives were:
I did sell some work as well as one canvas.
It was a great setup as I could back the van right up to the fieldhouse garage door and my spot was right inside. Load-out was equally easy.
The outside weather was cool & provided a supply of rain so being inside was nice.
It rained really hard just at close so all the vendors who normally rush to break down & quickly drive away --- got wet. By the time I was ready to load the rain had ceased.
The Swartz Creek Women’s Club had an ample supply of - free for the vendors - cookies, fruit and vegetables in the hospitality room. I was able to avoid the fruit & vegetables.
The Cage Fieldhouse air conditioning worked.

Short of a tornado slamming directly into the Cage Fieldhouse we were going to be dry inside. It is always great to have a dry show. However, Michigan folks seem to take a fair amount of rain in stride during the summer. Unless it is of the hail, thunder & lightening sort in which case they generally RUN for cover. I’ve been in shows where it would rain cats. All the people would disappear. The cats would let up, and like magic everyone is back out on the street again. It is a magic wand kind of experience. At any rate I think being inside is overrated except in the aforementioned tornado scenario & winter, of course.

Art on the River 2013

July 21st, 2013

Art on the River 2013

Commerce Township

July 20, 2013

I’ve know for a long time that Lansing is bereft of lakes, and that not too far to the east of here the map is dotted in lakes. This is where Commerce Township is located. This is where the upper reaches of the Huron River runs through it. The art (really craft fair) was located at Byers Homestead. The farmhouse sits on a new foundation on a very little rise above the Huron River. The river is about 40 feet across here and looks to be very wadable except at the bridge into the homestead. Most of the day I just wanted to jump in, but that was not to be.

Leah Ohmer (Executive Director of the Huron Valley Council of the Art) was ever present and a very working executive director. None of that changed this craft show into an art show. It does say ‘art’ on the river and not ‘crafts’ on the river. The show was was well run, and well volunteered. I won’t go back.

Parenthetically craft shows aren’t inevitably ‘bad’, but they do draw potential customers who are looking for stuffed cat pillows over what I generally have to offer. So I tend to avoid them. Oh well!

I was right next to the farmhouse, and Larry who made very beautiful wood cutting boards was on the west side of me. I mentioned earlier that the farmhouse was on a rise. My 10 x 10 was well into that rise. I looked like a cardboard box that had been cut into rough rectangles and glued to the side of a building. It was challenging setup because nothing was on the square. The paperwork made it quite clear that everything had to be hauled into one’s space so I was prepared for that reality. One does not expect perfectly level ground outdoors in any location. I did not expect a hill.

Frankly I do not think my ramshackle appearance had any effect on sales, but I like the place to look neat & organized. It did not.

The bonus was that my 10 x 10 square of ground had the Huron River just a few feet behind me. I enjoyed that all day long.

Art in the Park - Halmich Park - Warren

July 16th, 2013

Art in the Park - Halmich Park - Warren

July 13 & July 14, 2013

There are a lot of art fairs that are called ‘Art in the Park’! It is kind of like naming the Robin the State of Michigan bird. Really!!

However, whatever the name the results are what counts. The results are heavily influenced by the type of people an art fair draws, the numbers of folks who show up, and the weather. It was hot, but not impossible, and the crowds were OK on both days (exceptional) and even a little more willing to look through the prints on Sunday. Sundays are usually the dog.

I like Warren’s show as much for the above as being able to chat with Michael Peychich ( Michael is an excellent photographer, instrumental in making this show happen, and a nice guy. Buy his work! I also get to visit with Wally & Rosemary Lubzik. Wally is a commercial photographer (now retired but still working). He does commercial work & fine art photography which he brings to the shows. See his work at If you want a story or a joke call him up. This time I got to meet Vivian (3 years with red-blond hair-very cute) and a shorter granddaughter. - Hillary, I think.

My neighbors were nice, and I sold two canvas pieces (Fresh and Rarely Perfect) plus some others. The phrase is that ‘I sold’. Whenever I say that I always think better of it, and think that it would be more appropriate to say, ‘that the print sold itself, and that I just managed the sale!’ Here is Wally taking some pics of the Michigan Renaissance actors as they promoted their festival.

Lakeshore Art Festival 2013

July 7th, 2013

Lakeshore Art Festival 2013

Muskegon, Michigan

I’ve come to the conclusion that anyone responsible for an art show should be required to have at least done the circuit as a solo for three years. They would have learned in that time that when a show claims to have booth sitters they damn well better show up close to when requested. Good shows send volunteers around on the circuit and actually ask if a vendor needs anything or needs a break. They do this all day on both days too. For many reasons the Lakeshore Art Festival is not a good show. No-show booth sitters is just one. Besides the check-in booth where I signed up for a booth sitter on Saturday I had only one contact with show workers.

A person came around to make sure we knew that the police were ticketing or towing on Saturday. Really? That was my one contact? Does the show have such a crappy relationship with the Muskegon police that parking issues can’t be worked out --on a weekend --- for a major event drawing money into town?

The show is an exceptional Friday-Saturday event that is open too long into the evening. The customers will always tell when the show is over. It was over between 5 and 6 on Friday and by 4 PM on Saturday. Since we were pointlessly required to be there until 7 PM on both days---it makes for long days. This is same thing happens at many shows not just Lakeshore. The management needs to open their eyes. The customers will scream when the show is over. Pay attention.

Friday the crowds were great, but they were literally lakeshore tourists. They had already dropped their money on overpriced hotel rooms. However they, in the main knew what they were looking at. The Saturday crowd would in reality might not be able to negotiate a store aisle let alone life. It reminded me of the family in Caldwell’s Tobacco Road. Everything that was new, good, and whole was degraded, worn-out and inevitably destroyed. Quite literally one oversized bunch was so without bodily muscle they could not stand up. They leaned on the print bins in such a way as to cause them nearly to collapse. I’d not experienced that before.

There were almost universal tattoos on Saturday, and almost none on Friday. I took in more cash on Saturday, but I had only four sales and it included one canvas. None of the people I sold to on Saturday had tattoos (that I could see). I had six sales on Friday and no tattoos.

I do not think it is quite as telling, but the tattoo tourists tend to want to touch the canvas. I think this is because they have almost no experience with art, artists, or formal art displays. They seem to have no ability to understand unless they can touch -- as if they were two years old. They were enthusiastic, but ignorant.

As usual the positives were the other vendors. The opal artists from Standish were next to me again as in Rochester a few years ago. They mine, import, cut, and finish the jewelry. It is exquisite. A quiet young lady & husband were next door selling her design prints of which I’m not certain she sold much. Dallas Gallbrieth who works metal into wall art from Fort Wayne was there. We briefly spoke. A woman stained glass artist & husband helper I’ve seen before were across the way. Joe Kisselburg from Chelsea who does tie-dyed clothes was working the show management as is his passion, as I made my way to the port-o-lets at the end of the day. Joe has & does make a living selling his work. He has a very reasoned approach to the many errors of management. The management does not seemed to be moved which is too bad. I think it was even the light traffic on Webster behind me that covered but it just seemed quiet there even though there were generators running sitting out near the road.

Hackley Park is a lovely city park. In place of the normally required fountain there is a towering Civil War monument with bronze statues on each of its lower four corners. It is topped with a bronze Liberty, I think. The park is liberally sprinkled with other bronze pieces that I did not have opportunity to study. It should be a great setting for an art show. The booth spaces were close to double-width. Was that liberalness of booth space because of fewer vendors from the past?

On my rating scale of - o + Lakeshore gets a -.

Reeds Lake Art Festival June 15, 2013

June 25th, 2013

Reeds Lake Art Festival  June 15, 2013

The nice thing about Reeds Lake Art Festival is that it really is an art fair and not a festival. If there was a kettle corn stand somewhere for once it was not in front of my booth!

One day shows are great but exhausting since the load-in and load-out are all on the same day’s energy. It did rain a little but the crowds were not put off by the drips and came right back when it stopped. Many just pulled out the umbrellas and kept right on shopping. I was located on the far end of Wealthy Street near the parking garage. I was very pleased with booth 107 as compared to last year when I was on a bump-out curve. The location made it relatively easy to load-in and load-out.

I had some self-identified return buyers who actually bought additional pieces! This is always good. I had several buyers interested in larger canvas sizes, and I think they really were as I had post show conversations with them. This did not result in any sales but often people talk about larger sizes and really are not serious. I sold two 20 x 30 canvas - Rarely Perfect & Hummingbird. Usually I might sell one. I was pleased.

The shoppers were interested in buying and that is always good. I could have wished to have sold more but I always wish I could sell more. I was just pleased that the ‘tourists’ and ‘tattoos’ were few. The lawn ornaments were quality. The crowds were steady and of good size throughout the day.

This is a definite keeper.

Art in the Park Downtown Pinckney

June 6th, 2013

Art in the Park Downtown Pinckney

When a show says they are an ‘Art Fair’ it should:

- not look like a carnival at the county fair grounds.
- not have the booth locations so poorly marked it is hard to tell where the canopy is supposed to be positioned.
- not have a local radio station with HUGE speakers directly across the road from the front of my canopy playing ALL day long AND equally loud locals singing & dancing across the way behind my booth.
- not make a deal about offering breaks by simply posting the provided ‘helping hands’ sign AND then not come by for two hours to actually provide the service.
- not provide spaces for windows & siding companies, etc.
- not attract a crowd who’s apparent primary interest in life in the acquisition of additional (I assume ‘additional’) lawn ornaments.
- not attract a crowd who (men & women) have more tattoos per square inch than a bluegill has scales.
- not attract a crowd which has an AMAZING number of cigarette smokers—really an amazing number.*

*In the interest of fairness I am not in any way opposed to tattoos or smoking for those who choose to take up either avocation. My opposition arises from experiences which have told me that shows with lots of either do not provide customers who are in the least willing (and in many cases able) to purchase my work.

This show could not even be described as a art & craft fair, let alone a FINE art & craft fair. At best  it was a very small town festival. However, the persons in attendance seemed to be having a delightful time. 

I will not be back.

PS: I must say the donuts were good at the Pinckney Bakery!


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