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Halifax Art Fest—Daytona Beach—easy-peezy but do not drive a long way to do it

Well, I am back.

Been gone from blogging for a while, spent more time on golf, less on writing. But I got the itch back, so here goes.

The main thing you need to know about Daytona (DB) is that it is all about bikes and tires here. That means car racing and motorcycles. Art is not truly appreciated here. This is an old show with about 250 exhibitors plus an add-on crap market. Way too many artists for way too few of patrons.

The local museum runs the show and they think their shit stinks better than others. Very generous awards given here. Best in show gets 5K, second award is $3K, than five 1K awards, finally there are 22 merit awards worth $500 each. So lots of talent looking for prize money. I saw at least 30 great painters at this show which is ten times better than I have seen in my last ten shows.

Booth fee is around $250. I was hoping to do $1500 for this two day show. Ended up making ten times my booth fee due to a lucky fluke. Will explain later.

The show is two hours away from my Ybor home. I stayed with my great jeweler friend in New Smyrna and took him out to dinner nightly, so it was not an expensive show. You can set up the afternoon before, it is very mellow. Thankfully, the show closes at four pm on Sunday, and the breakdown is mellow, I was out in an hour, not bad for a 73 year old.

Gee Nels where is the show located?

Thought you would never ask. We set up on Beach Drive right downtown in Daytona next to the Intercoastal Waterway. There is a wide grass median down the street with the booth’s rear facing the median. You are on concrete. Plenty of storage behind. The show started at 10am on Sat. But the committee said that if we wanted to be judged for awards we had to be open by 8 am. How fricking dumb is that? Guess what! I never saw the first judge til noon and the other around 1pm.

Now comes the classic move by this committee. Usually when shows have award ceremonies in the morn at a breakfest, everybody comes. Not them. You had to be invited to the breakfest, which meant only award winners got breakfest, let the rest eat day old pie. Gee, I did not get an invite.

Daytona attracts a mix of locals and tourists who come there. The locals are very cheap, most are very old and they do not really care a lot about art. When they buy it is usually generic, regurgitated art. Dreck that has been done a million times before.

The tourists are more savvy, trouble is, there are not of them to go around for all of us. There are bars and restaurants across our booths. All packed, while the street is half filled. I sold little precious pieces of paper on Saturday and almost did 1K. Talked to about 40 artists Sunday morn. Most were lucky if they did $500. One lucky individual did $1500, they are buying sushi for us.

Mind you, the show has lots of circuit pros here. Most are looking for an easy award, but most like me, are hoping to grind it out for $1500. It’s the fricking fall in Florida, there are not many art fairs to make serious money at. Serious money to me is $4K and up, otherwise you are just grinding it out.

Anyways, back to Sunday. Got there at 8am, position A for tear down. Someday, after I am well retired from doing shows, I will explain Position A and the machinations that are involved with it. Until then, you are on your own. It is a big jungle out there, and I always get Position A.

Btw. A little story about Position A: A legendary painter on the circuit named Renee (damn, I am having a senior moment, cannot remember his last name, if it comes—oh shit, I just remembered-Rene Marchetti) Anyways, he and I always were competing for Position A at any show we were at. He always beat me to it. But he had an advantage, his wife, Sandra. He could slink away from his booth while I had to stay, because I had no equal to a Sandra.

We were doing the old Peidmont show in Atlanta, and as usual he beat me to it and had numero uno Position A at tear down. Naturally, we positioned our vans and went back to the show, to do final sales in the last hour. Renee died at this show. It was like almost every artist dream. He had sat in his director chair, he had a smile on his face, and in his hand he had a $5000 check. He died from a massive coronary. But, he died rich, and he always got Position A. I like to think he passed it on to me.

Oh well, that is my post. Nobody writes about art shows like me. Stay tuned for future reports.
Later Gators.

Views: 445

Comment by Nels johnson on November 6, 2017 at 5:23pm
Well, what saved the show for me, was I had a bee-back couple who were interested in one of my $500 pieces, trouble was he liked one while she liked the other. I could feel the sale slipping away if I could not get universal aclaimmantion ( fancy way of saying they both liked it).
Anyways, being the astute salesman that I am, I blurted out, “Why don’t you buy both of them, I will give you a good deal.”
They bit, and wanted to know what kind of deal would I give. I gave them $125 off and they bit. That sale put me way up there.
Comment by Nels johnson on November 6, 2017 at 5:25pm
Meant to say aclaimation.
Thank God my fourth grade teacher is not here to slap my face.
Comment by Tammie T Everly on November 7, 2017 at 7:56am

Glad you are back at the blogging, I always enjoy your reviews. You are pretty much spot on as always with your review.

A friend and I each did this event for the first time, although we made the mistake of participating in the 'fine craft' side of the house [won't make that error in judgement again]. I had a decent weekend, worth another try next year. In 2018 I will definitely cough up the extra cash to be part of the beautiful people and not lost among the crocheted pot holders.  

As a thank you gift my friend gave me your "WE ACCEPT WALKENS" print, which you autographed ! As we walked the show I had told her "Hey, there's Nels Johnson, he writes the best show reviews" I guess she went back to you later to get that for me.  :-)   

Comment by Nels johnson on November 7, 2017 at 6:25pm
Nice to hear from you Tammie.
I got the itch back, so more blogs will follow.
Nice that your friend got my WALKEN.
Comment by Connie Mettler on November 7, 2017 at 8:43pm

So good to hear from you, Nels. I don't think we've ever had a review of this show before. Thanks! Have you done this one before? The jeweler friend, Phil ...??, sort of like trying to remember Rene Marchetti, one of the great guys in this business and one of the reasons to do shows. To meet people like Rene and Sandra. Strange folks turn up here, usually with unusual work, moxie and solid egos, plus some cool life experience.

Frankly, you would never have gotten Position A if Norm had been there. One of his deals was to carry around those orange traffic cones and stake his spot. But don't tell anyone that. When I retire, I'll auction them off. They say "ABE".

That is some great prize money. Why don't I know about this show? Who got the $5K?

Tell me the list of shows you've done since your last post. Please. And a very belated happy birthday.

(My excuse for not noting it: moving to another city after 30 years planted in Michigan, hurt my back, too much work, can't keep up with anything.) Thinking of you anyway.

Comment by Nels johnson on November 8, 2017 at 7:16am
Did Lake Forest,Chicago
Arts n Apples
I did Halifax back in the 80s and 90s, it was in a better location.
Do not know who got the 5K, it was not me.
Phil is Phil Hall.
No. I am no I am not going to blog about the afore-mentioned shows, let sleeping dogs lie.
Let’s just say, most of them suck, and are coasting on past reputations.
Comment by Christina L. Towell on November 13, 2017 at 9:17am

Love your reviews, Nels, great to have you back and "bloggin" again!  Glad this was a good one for you too...


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