Monday, June 23, 2008

97 Degrees In The Shade...

...That's where the temperatures were aiming at on Saturday, totally ignoring the dozens of artists who assembled on the grounds of the Triton Museum in Santa Clara to display their art.

97 degrees (36 Celsius) before the end of June - as if the weather decided to justify the name of the event "Midsummer Art Celebration".

I was showing with two organizations - watercolors with one of them, photography with the other. It took A LOT of preparation and work, from choosing what to display, to printing it (photography) or adding last-minute touches (paintings), to matting and framing and creating labels and deciding on pricing and designing myself two business cards (one for each display) - throughout the whole time, The JohnnyB provided moral support and helped me choose, price, frame, assemble, arrange, stay sane...

...After a night of troubled sleep, I woke up early Saturday. We loaded our two cars - and off we went, to the fair. A frantic email from one of the organizers has sent The JohnnyB off to buy loads of ice and bottled water, to make sure his lovely wife and her artist friends (well, at least the ones in both groups she was showing with) would not go into a domino-effect of fainting. While he was away, I hung my paintings in one place, ran to hang the photography in another, ran back to the paintings site to arrange and rearrange, back to the photography display - it was damn hot!

But at 10am, as the place opened to the public, we were a all smiling and calm, (I wish I could say 'cool', but that would be a lie - we were all flushed and sweaty by then), awaiting potential collectors.

It was my very first time to be in an art fair as one of the displaying artists. I never thought I would, as I always felt there's something sad about sitting around waiting for people to come see your art. I mean, you put your soul on the display panels, you wait for appreciative eyes, and sometimes all you meet is a bored indifferent look - - -

- - - ah, wait, but that happens anyway, even with people who come to our house and look (or don't) at the art hung on the wall with no comment.

So, I decided to go for it, with both organizations.

It was a hot, hot day. One booth (with the watercolors) was underneath some nice shady trees, the other in what seemed to be the hottest spot on the planet - no shade, save for a couple of clouds who came by to visit around noon, and then decided to pull a joke and rain on us all for 2 minutes. It was short, but enough to send some artists flying in panic to save their art from the conniving drops. I just enjoyed the much needed shower, and then it got a bit more bearable, with some breeze.

All in all, it was a fun day.

Lots of mingling with fellow artists, not so much - alas - with visitors to the event, as, well, not many have come. Lack of publicity, plus a tucked away location, topped by the heat, kept people indoors and away from our art.

As the more experienced amongst us exclaimed, it was the worst sales event ever. I wouldn't know, as it was my very first time at that. Yes, I hoped to sell something; I have never showed such a body of work at one time (6 paintings plus 6 photographs plus 5 matted pieces) - but once I saw that most people came looking for small inexpensive things, with very few exceptions, I managed to reset my expectations, and prevented myself from being disappointed. All the artists got into this sarcastic mode, in which a sale of a $4 card was celebrated with cheers and cold water. I didn't have time to print cards, so I wasn't amongst the celebrated ones.

It was a huge learning experience, an intoxicating feeling of getting very positive feedback on my photography (which was a novelty to those who know me mainly as a painter), and an initiation by fire (well, it was hot enough!) to the world of art fairs.

And now, we rest.


Anonymous said...

When I say "You're hot" I'm not just meaning on Art Fair days - though this would indeed seem to be appropriate for last Saturday. As compensation just think how much you have ready to choose for all the following shows now!

Michelle Himes said...

I've been in shows like that, Nava. Hope the next one is better. Congratulations for getting your stuff out there.