Friday, February 18, 2011

Still Not Sure.......

My First Booth
During Second Saturday last weekend, a friend from my days on the art festival circuit stopped by. It had been a couple of years since we last saw each other so we spent a few minutes catching up.

Soon we started reminiscing about the shows we did in horrible weather, van problems and other stories from "the road". I miss the special breed of artists I met doing the shows, but I also know I am not ready to go back out there.
In the rain

Two years ago I decided to take a year off from "the circuit". Last year I went to only one art festival and it looks like that's what I am doing this year as well. It still feels a little strange to be home most weekends in the summer. That was my life for so many years and sometimes I feel like my memories are turning a bit nostalgic and the reasons for taking a break are not quite as crystal clear as they once were.

In the rain #2
I really have no idea how long this break is going to last or even if it's actually "a break". I am sure there is a part of me waiting out the current economic uncertainties, but I am also wondering if the art festival model is still a viable means of earning income for artists.

So much has changed in the last few years. Without even mentioning the Internet, making a living selling at art festivals was already becoming a questionable pursuit. One reason for this is a saturation of the market. Here in California, you have a choice of several shows to attend on any given weekend in the summer. Art festivals no longer have the air of being a special event. The focus also started shifting away from the art and more toward wine, music and kids bouncy houses.

Lake Tahoe (got very very windy)

Then there is the Internet......If you are not one to risk a sunburn or a run in with an inebriated "wine taster", why not look for art in the comfort of your own home? While I still believe most people are reluctant to make purchases of original art online, there are many who are very happy picking up a high quality print from one of hundreds of websites offering just that sort of service (with a money back guarantee!)

So where does that leave me? Missing my friends and grateful that I was able to meet so many people that  appreciated what we were offering out there. What I am not missing is obsessively checking every 15 minutes to see if it's going to rain or be 115 degrees outside, (like I could do anything about it anyway). I also don't miss getting up at 3:30 am for dark and cold early morning set ups. (Looks like my reasons for the sabbatical are becoming clear again.... no need to continue.)

When my friend was leaving my studio after our visit he called out "hope to see you on the streets soon". I quickly found myself explaining to other visitors with quizzical looks on their faces what he was referring to.

On the street.....
Still not sure when or if I will ever be "back on the streets" but it's not a decision I have to make today......stay tuned.


  1. My last art festival was in Austin Texas where I perched on top of a pedestal as a tornado passed through. Happy to be home ever since. We only do a couple of shows now work with galleries, custom commissions and internet. You are an inspiration! Love reading your blog.

  2. Thank you Janet!

    A tornado! That makes my rain and wind stories seem like a walk in the park. Glad you made it home safely!

    Happy to hear the other venues are working out for you.

    Hope to see you soon. Let me know the next time you are in Sac....

  3. Darn, girl, you don't want to go back to the streets. Seriously, like Janet said, you're an inspiration. And I'm not an artist.

  4. I totally get where you are coming from, I love doing the festivals, but the weather will always put me on edge. Here in New England the weather changes on a dime. I guess it is part of the job.

  5. California is saturated with art fairs - I hadn't thought of that before, but you're right. I'd say, from the way you describe it, that you don't need to go "back to the streets" unless the reward overcomes the effort, or is at least more enticing than other income avenues.

  6. I always thought the festivals looked like so much fun. I have only done a few. When it was busy and lots of people were walking through and around it was exhilarating and exhausting in one way, but when there was nobody around or nobody was buying it was exhausting in a whole other way. You are a real trooper and obviously had lots of fans on the streets:)

  7. Although I never did as many shows as you, I don't know if/when I'll do another. The final "message from the Universe" came on October 10, when, van loaded and ready to go set up my booth at the one fair I've done every year since 2000, I dislocated my knee getting out of the shower and spent the day in the ER.

    I'd been telling myself for years "this is the LAST TIME," but apparently I'm a glutton for punishment...

    I miss the direct response to my work and interacting with people, but I don't miss the prep, the booth setup, the long exhausting day, the tear down, the putting-stuff-away-again. Ugh.

    Perhaps an open studio is in my future someday, but I'm not so sure about a street festival...

  8. Thanks for all the comments! It is true that there are pros and cons to anything. I too love the interaction and dislike the prep (and the expense). My "message from the universe" came in the form of a broken down van that was not worth fixing....I listened.

    PS Dianne Andre - you are an artist! You use soil, plants and flowers to create beauty....besides, I loved your photograph and the hand coloring you did in the workshop last year!