Art Fair Insiders

Call for Artists, Making Money at Juried Art Fairs, Craft Shows and Festivals

57th Street Art Fair is held the first week of June.  This was our first year at the show.  I have a love affair with Chicago but I was not familiar with Hyde Park area of Chicago except for the Science and Industry museum and University of Chicago.  It is a wonderful area and a great place to explore if you have some time.  Other AFI members exhibited at the show so I hope they can chime in on their experience.


The show is very close to the University and on the neighborhood streets.  Communication with the show is excellent.  Advertising was also very good and started months ahead of time, if not all year long.  Since this was a first time show for me I was very concerned about a Saturday morning set up on the streets of a big city.  There was no need to worry.  Our street was very wide.  Set up started around 4 am I believe but we decided to arrive at 7 am, after consulting other artists and walking the area Friday night.   One of the most mellow and easiest Saturday morning set ups I can recall.  Parking also worried us, again city parking, but no worries tons of parking on the neighborhood streets.  There is an artist checkin and amenities room in the elementary school on site.  The show even had an emergency tool box for those who needed it. 


Booths are along 57th street, across from each other and on S. Kimbark.  57th street is not as wide as S. Kimbark so it gets crowded with people.  S. Kimbark is wide with one side of booths on the street against the curb and other side booths on the side walk.  Most of us had some storage in back. I don't think there is a bad area to be in, the show is laid out well.  Weather was wonderful both days.  Only negative was the cotton wood trees were snowing, something I have never experienced before, and especially heavy on Sunday.  It didn't stop the people from coming.  A strong crowd both day. 


Sales were all over the place.  Almost everyone I talked to who had lower price point work were selling, and selling out of work under $100.  Many of our friends and neighbors had strong shows, most artists that I spoke to had a great show.  We unfortunately did not.  Our price points gave almost everyone sticker shock.  Smaller work was definitely a hit.  The show was well juried and I didn't feel there was too much of one category or a certain style.  That was refreshing to see at an art show. 


Breakdown was just as easy as set up.  The block captain was right there with load out passes to hand out as soon as you were broken down.  Drove in and out no problems. 


I am really disappointed this show was not a match for us.  It is so well run, a pleasure to do and we just fell in love with the neighborhood.  Like I said many, most, artists had a great show.  So if this is a good match for you I recommend trying 57th Street.  There are not any hotels nearby.  Air Bnb is the way to go.  The show even offers an air bnb discount.  Also the Robie House is a block from the show!!!!  If you don't have an extra day to take a tour, no problem, the house tours start before the show opens.  Make a reservation on line because tours fill up.  A must do if you are in the area.  

Views: 704

Comment by Judy Christian on June 15, 2017 at 9:49am

Thanks for the review!

I always wonder about this show as it's at the right time of the year for me and close enough, since I dropped my 2 past June shows. I have wondered about all of the logistics, but you made it sound like a possibility.

I'm sorry that it didn't turn out well for you- that is our business, though.


Comment by Connie Mettler on June 15, 2017 at 10:25am

Thanks for this review on 57th St., Melanie. I think it is the first on we've ever received although this show is ancient by art fair standards and lots of our members are there. I also loved going to 57th St. Wonderful hospitality (and the first year we did it my husband got the Newcomer Award, so we had an invitation for next year and an award before we even got there!), love the neighborhood, loved the sophisticated well-educated clientele, the shady streets even on the hottest days, and lots of our friends were also exhibiting making for good fun also.

Thanks for the tip on the Air BnB. That is very cool that the show has made an arrangement with them. So smart as it can be very inconvenient to find lodgings nearby and affordable. 

The sales, the first years we were there the sales were the best then they got smaller, so we moved on. Seems to be a loyal clientele, but not a lot of new people attending. But I have friends who are still doing the show and doing fine with decent price points after 30 years. 

Not sure if they are still doing this, but they used to host an "Art Buying Tour" with an expert leading a group through the show and discussing how to create an art collection. They advertise it ahead of time and it is well received.

And on another note, just want you to know that after talking with you on the podcast on how to save money when traveling and lots of other money tips I bit the bullet and paid this quarter's estimated taxes online today with my credit card. Not really pleased with that fee, but it will bring me lots of travel points to be used in interesting ways. Thanks for encouraging me to do that. 

Comment by margaret luttrell on June 15, 2017 at 10:31am

I wrote a review of this show last was a really good one too. You have been doing so many Melanie.... I thought I would take the heat off of you...but after I finished it- I guess I deleted it somehow. (Has this ever happen to anyone else on this site because it has happen to me twice) and then I had too much to do to write it again...word to the wise always save as you go. Ya,Ya...I know. Anyway, 57th Street was great for me. My neighbors were not so happy. Either you did great or it was slow going. I really like the Chicago crowds, apparently they like my work luckily. I was close to you on Kimbark...It was wide and easy to set up. So well organized and a pleasure to do. Same with load out. The artist next to me who did fibers and had done the show for 9 years strait said the crowds were down this year. This time of year there is so many doctor conferences the hotels are booked and prices go up. We stayed in Hammond, the Hilton was new and great but there wasn't much around in terms of food. It was a 30 minute drive into Hyde Park. The prices were around 120, a better price than I could find just about anywhere else. Sorry, I'm a snob in my old age...I won't stay at a Hotel Six for various reasons....mostly because the walls are too thin. Next year if I get in (Hopefully) I'll make my reservation right after I get in and not wait until the last minute. Now if I can just coordinate 57th Street and hopefully get back in to Old Town next year, I might be able to buy that round the world plane ticket I have been dreaming about. 

Comment by Connie Mettler on June 15, 2017 at 10:40am

That is a great back to back pairing, Margie. And you have to stay in Chicago for the week! Oh no! A real treat, isn't it? Last year coming from from Chicago we took the local roads all around to Michigan, down Lake Shore Drive through beautiful communities, abandoned communities, pristine waterfront in Gary (!) and on ... even better than that pair, 57th St and Old Town is if you're really luck and get into Milwaukee's Lakefront - 3 weekends in a row of civilized shows and customers who know what you are creating and are thrilled to be in attendance. These are all "must attend events" for art lovers throughout the region. 

(Sorry your post disappeared ... here is one way I've found to sometimes recover it: at the top click on "My Blog" and then on "Edit Blog Posts" and it may be there ... and then there is that old trick, save as you write. Remember, Jesus Saves.

Comment by margaret luttrell on June 15, 2017 at 11:17am

Well, one can only hope, I have never gotten into the Lakeshore show...would defiantly love to ( there are a few that I just can't seem to crack) and I did Old Town for two years strait then didn't make the cut this year. I'll keep trying. Spent a summer on a grant to study at SAIC back in the early 2000's and I love Chicago....... I'll remember your advice when a post disappears Connie....They take a bit of time to write up...Not sure everyone realizes. So thank you Melanie and Nels and Sarah and Craig and everyone on AFI that spends time away from working to do this for everyone else....It really, really helps.

Comment by Melanie Rolfes on June 15, 2017 at 11:19am
Marge I write mine in word then copy and paste. I have lost a review before and it is a bummer. Connie where is the first place you will travel to once you get all those airline miles?
Comment by Connie Mettler on June 15, 2017 at 11:33am

Margie, I learned the hard way, but usually it works. Nels has called me a couple of times in a panic and he's recovered his. But then we know under what conditions he is writing. Yes. People have no idea what a commitment of time it is to write a blog post. They don't have to be as thorough as those essays you all right, but the info is so helpful.

I also believe that Lakefront is the hardest show to get into in the country. They carry on about Cherry Creek or St. Louis, but Lakefront has an artist advisory committee who get invitations and the amazing thing that happens is that if you win a award you get reinvited for multiple years, leaving a relatively small pool of openings. My husband won that one year and we were in heaven, basically just starting out and we hit the trifecta on those fine shows for multiple years. It was when we first started doing shows and it impacted our personal economy and challenged his work and helped it grow because we saw the potential of the business. Then it ended.

Well, now that you ask, Melanie, I am just now recovering from jet lag, having returned the other day from Croatia and Montenegro ... lovely couple of weeks on the Adriatic. I'd like to follow that up on a trip down the coast of Chile, but always in the cards is treating my kids to vacations, maybe in Mexico next winter. I had a great time in the Yucatan, Merida and the surrounds, last winter. I can take my laptop and keep working. Did not do it last week though.

And you? What's your next great trip?

Comment by Melanie Rolfes on June 15, 2017 at 11:46am
That's right Connie I saw your pictures from Dubrovnik. Love that area of the world. We are planning a trip there for next year. We leave in a few days for Des Moines and will go to Costa Rica for a week between Des Moines and Madison.
Comment by Mike Smith on June 16, 2017 at 10:13am

Third year for us, always a fun show to do - the neighborhood really loves art and supports it in force. Maybe a tad off of the previous year, but not by much. All sales for us in the $1000-$2000 window. The only issue was all the Cottonwood snow blowing around especially on Sunday - never seen that before and had to spend a while cleaning off all the remaining paintings before Old Town the next weekend.

Comment by Connie Mettler on June 16, 2017 at 10:36am

I remember that Cottonwood all over the place, "snowing" in Chicago in June. I'll have to say easier to clean off the art than the veritable flood of pollen at Dogwood in Atlanta in April ...


You need to be a member of Art Fair Insiders to add comments!

Join Art Fair Insiders

Want to sell more online? Advertise with Reach over 60,000 fiber arts lovers.

Top 10 Reviewers on for January and February

Join the MasterMinds Group for personalized coaching on your Internet Lifestyle Business! 

60 Page Report - Best US Art Fairs

Click Here to
Learn More

© 2018   Created by Connie Mettler.   Powered by

Badges  |  Report an Issue  |  Terms of Service