Once the tent is up, Jeff mans the tent while I check out the fair. It's a small one, with about 20 exhibitors. The show is predominantly "hobby" crafters and artists. Most set-ups are makeshift, which makes my monster-tent-o-nudes stand out even more. That may not be a good thing for this show, but it shows me I'm on the right track for big shows later this year.
The few "pros" are there because they live close by, and the conversation goes something like this:
"Your tent looks amazing. Why are you here? You should be at a bigger show."
*disclaimer: I hope I'm not coming across like a festival/art snob. This is my livelihood and career, and I treat it as such. If you want to make art your career, you should too.
As I speak with the vendors, something I never anticipated becomes apparent. Over and over, I'm asked a variant on the same odd question: Are you the muse for the nudes? I'm confused at first. Artists usually aren't their own muse. Then it dawns on me. Everyone is assuming Jeff is the artist. Ahhh!
So I begin a list of things to buy/make for future shows.
As I hunker down in my tall director's chair (tall so I can sit at eye level with my guests), another strange thing happens.
My paintings are getting some extremely odd reactions. My exhibitor neighbors, The Craftinistas notice it too and begin to laugh. As customers meander past the tents, a look of shock comes over their face when they see the nudes. This doesn't happen with everyone, but it's enough that it becomes a sort of entertainment for us throughout the day.
Funny comments get thrown my way, like the man who quickly ducks in (trailing his wife), to say he likes my work, but his wife would never let him have it. Then there's a burly man with his young son. He loudly points out the naked ladies saying, "You'll be interested someday".
A nervous couple comes in, giggling. I suddenly get the feeling that I'm selling dildos instead of paintings.
The highlight of the day was a middle-aged couple. The husband is numbly walking into my tent when his wife body blocks him, grabs his arm, and steers him the other way. What is going on?
Without getting into the conservative nature of the American psyche, and my own interpretation of the figure (I'll leave that for future blogs). I'm going to blame this strange behavior on the show. It's not entirely their fault, because I shouldn't be in this type of show in the first place.
The festival is poorly advertised. There aren't any signs on the main street to announce it, so it's much like a band of tents decided to randomly pitch in downtown Cambria. The customers who manage to find us aren't expecting art. They are tourists and shoppers who stumble across what looks to be a flea market, hoping to find some neat stuff to take home.
I don't take it personally. In the end, we manage to break even on the $25 entry fee. I meet some wonderful people who I hope to see at future shows. I accomplish all I want to accomplish and gain a deeper insight into this festival world I'm delving into.
Here's the completed list:
-a sign, with my name and a photo.
- a credit card terminal
-some sort of desk for credit card transactions
-sturdier picture hooks
-a folding table that fits in the center of the tent
-a table cover
-baskets for the 8x10" prints (to go on the table)
-hand wipes to clean my hands and whatever else gets dirty
-a jewelry display
-small merch bags for the cards
-better title/sales tags for the artwork (ones that don't fall off)
A side note:
To demonstrate the rollercoaster ride of the art world, I ended up selling one of my paintings on art festival day; except it wasn't at the festival. As I unloaded the car to place the paintings back onto Vihuela's gallery walls, a woman purchased one.