Yesterday, I participated in my first art festival. I plan to do these things full-time next year (12-18 shows), so it’s a milestone.
First, let me explain a bit. In order to enter fine art shows, you need to send an application 6 months, to a year ahead of the show date. Included in that show entry, you need a “booth picture”. This photo is a picture of your art tent, fully set up at a show. This is an important part of entry, because it determines weather or not you’ll even get in. These shows are strictly juried, and many enter year after year without getting in.
Did I mention it costs big bucks too? I just paid $600 for a 10x10’ space in San Diego later this year. Fees can easily be in the thousands! That’s not even factoring in gas and hotel stays. Let’s not think about that right now.
Back to the booth picture. Since I’ll need to enter shows so far in advance, I bought my tent months ago, just to get that little booth photo. That’s a big leap of faith. I didn’t want to start small either. I’ve been showing paintings for a long time, and I know presentation is important. I want to play with the big boys. I’m cannon-balling into the icy deep end. This means I need a monster tent with all the bells and whistles. It’s heavy. It’s hard to set up, and I’ve got to learn how to transport and maneuver this thing all by myself.
Yesterday’s show was a local show in Cambria. This was a dinky one-day show, part of Cambria’s heritage day celebration. I found out about it from a Craigslist ad and entered because it was cheap, and close-by. I don't expect to sell any paintings, but hope to break even with a few prints and card sales. This show gives me a chance to test drive my tent before the 3-day shows later this year.
My little Nissan Xterra was loaded a day ahead. This was tricky, because I didn’t even know if everything would fit in the SUV. The other tricky part was maneuvering the heavy, awkward tent poles down my stairway of doom. After stealing all my paintings and prints out of Vihuela winery, I tried to squeeze them into the car without damaging the canvas. It was tricky, but I managed to do it.
I'm only showing nudes at this show because I want to present a cohesive body of work, which means I need to pick a series and go with it. So I’ll show nudes in San Francisco, abstracts in Palm Springs and landscapes in the suburbs. I won’t know what works until I actually do a show, but at least I have flexibility when I enter. (i.e., I was just denied entrance into show because they don’t want nudes, then re-entered with my landscapes and got in).
Back to the Cambria show… I barely sleep the night before. Lists are floating around in my head. I still need to remember to pack the tent instructions.
The next morning, I forget the tent instructions. Luckily, there are a few practice set-ups under my belt and the poles are marked with color-coded Sharpies. I get to the site on time. It’s 8:00 in the morning, and everything needs to be up by 10:00. Jeff is helping with this show, so we finish 30 minutes ahead of time. My anticipated tears of frustration never show.
Whew! Here it is, all set up:
and me, trying to look awake...
Stay tuned for Part 2!