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I'm going to be doing my first ever arts festival memorial day weekend (Dallas Artfest...which from what I've read on here hasn't been a great show for some people...hopefully it will be a good learning experience at least?) Anyway, I had been assuming I would pack up all my paintings (I don't have anything super huge) and take them with me back to my hotel room every night--but from reading some posts on here it sounds like people just leave all their art in their tent at night? Probably a stupid question but would it be way over-protective of me to pack them up every night?

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If you have one of a kind irreplaceable work, by all means, take it out at night if you don't feel secure with leaving it. As a photographer, I always left my work but photography is replaceable.

Larry Berman

If I have any question about security, I bring a great big waterproof tarp (we bought it one year when a hurricane came to our area), lay it on the ground in the middle of the tent, take down my art and stack up the pieces carefully on the tarp. Then I wrap it like a big burrito right in the middle of the tent and put any of misc. items like chairs or plastic tubs around the wrapped art. 

That way even if someone does try to take something, they'll have to work really hard to get it out of my tarp burrito. This has also been really helpful when I do shows at the oceanfront in Virginia Beach - it protects the art from wind, sand and moisture. 


If it's easy to take everything down and take it to your hotel - do it if it makes you comfortable. My wrapping procedure sounds like a lot of work, but it's less effort then hauling it all out. 


There have been a few shows where security was so good that I did nothing. But the shows at the oceanfront have more risk because people can slip into the tent from the oceanside - from the back of the tent. 


Good luck doing your first show.


For outdoor shows, I take my work out of my tent every night.  It is a pain, but gives me piece of mind for security and weather.  If you are set up on grass, you also have to consider the inside of you tent may be filled up with condensation in the AM. 


Sometimes I leave it in the van, sometimes I bring it up to the hotel room. 

Jewelers typically pack up everything and take it with em....other medias, not. They button up their tents real tight and count on the show's security to keep it safe. Thieves want snatch and fence work. They are not going to haul off a buncha big, not fencible.


Mother Nature is the one who will cause your art grief. Humidity, wind, rain, bugs, etc. The painters I know who have a large variety of images, have large boxes that they pack em up in at nite, cover them well, making it difficult to open, button up their tents, and go off for a good dinner.




Bad news!  I have seen painters who did the "burrito wrap."  Then we had a violent rain storm, with high winds and heavy rains.  The rain flooded through the tents, soaking the tarps and everything in them.  Major loss of paintings.  I've seen this happen too many times.

Most painters usually leave their work hanging up, but if the weather looks bad, they will place the pieces on their carts (Maglines, RocknRollers, etc.), then tarp them.  This will take the work about 12" off of the ground.  Or load most of them into a vehicle and make sure the insurance is paid up, in case of vehicle breakins.

Most photographers and other 2D artists have built carrying boxes into which they can slide their pieces, then put them on a cart.  The whole process is - that it is most important that the work be off of the ground, away from any potential flooding. And yes, tarp everything, because the bad guys will look inside tents, whether by lifting flaps, slashing sides, undoing zippers, etc. and usually pass by the tarped work in favor of work that is exposed for easy pickings.

Don't assume that thieves won't steal paintings.  I've known painters who've had their work stolen so that the frames can be fenced; potters work stolen and sold in local craft stores; photos and prints stolen as gifts, what have you.  The jails are full of crooks who will steal anything - they'll steal windshield wipers just because it saves them a few bucks!  I used to work at a county jail as a librarian, so I was always amazed at what people would steal, and how little though went into the crime, other than "I want that!"

If you have snap-lid plastic tubs instead of a good cart (not one of those luggage carts), you can wrap your work in a tarp and place them horizontally on the tubs.  Just make sure there is no wiggle to the setup so a high wind blowing through sides doesn't tip over the pile.

1st Place for bad weather:  1993, Atlanta Arts Festival, 5" of rain in 20 minutes; three feet of water flowing through the show, carrying off everything not anchored down, including tables and stands.

2nd Place:  2008, Omaha Summer Arts Festival, tornadic winds pick up food booths with 800lbs of weight and toss them onto art booths across the street.

3rd Place:  2006 Breckenridge CO, a small dust devil wanders through the show, picks up a jewelry and neighboring photo booth and lofts them into the air, setting a new altitude record for an EZ-Up - 150 ft. high!

4th Place:  Ann Arbor - gee, just about any year, but my favorite was maybe 2005, when a painters booth was lofted up and into the second floor of a nearby parking garage.

5th Place:  Fill in you favorite storm story!

I think #1 would be the mudslide after a heavy rain at Boston Mills in 2006.

Here's a picture someone sent me the week after it happened. You can still see almost a foot of mud in the tent after they cleaned out the booths on Saturday morning.


Larry Berman

Okay you veterans. Before you have this newbie running for cover...let's not keep up with our show horror stories. Tho that is an impressive amount of mud! Damn.


Most shows are fine, weather is fine, sales are up and down.....the point of this is be prepared, not paranoid.


Now have you seen my photos of when I was blown outta Des Moines? Oh nevermind.



Love those war stories ;-) I've had a few of those myself. I'm a photographer, so I leave the stuff up. I usually have about 24 18x24 pieces hanging, several 24x30 pieces,  and a bunch of 12x16 and letter size frames up. It's way too time consuming to take them all down and pack properly in most cases. If there is a severe storm projected, then I bite the bullet and pack things up. You've not said what you store the work in as that makes a difference. Cardboard boxes are used by many, but they afford no protection at all. I use Rubbermade Roughneck totes for everything. They can get rained on and the water still won't get in, and they stack nicely with recessed lids so the upper tubs don't slide. The white tubs (Sterilite?) with the interlocking flaps on top will not protect well against rain, and they are too open to help much against condensation


The 18 gallon Roughneck containers will take 12x16 frames sideways with room leftover in the top.  Two of the 18 galllon containers can be mounted together by using Liquid Nails to glue the lids together, then the middle can be cut out so you've got a tub that can take 16-18 inch wide pieces up to 24-26 inches tall. Rubbermaid has some larger tubs that will take 15 or 16 18x24 frames. I use some even larger tubs with the lids glued together face to face to get some really large tubs that will take 24x30 frames upright. You have to pad between the pieces with mucked up foamcore or cardboard to avoid scratches and gouges. I put frames back to back, and place a cardboard or same size bagged print between the fronts to keep from scratching. I've seen where some people hit Goodwill and pick up T-Shirts for covering pieces.


The Roughneck containers will stack nicely and it's easy to put a tarp or covering over them. If you're really worried about the work, then take them down and store in your van or trailer.

I'm glad you mentioned putting the burrito wrapped art up off the ground. I guess I just don't want to remember the stormy shows!

If rain is predicted, I put it up on my stanley (big black storage container).  I always bring my stanley because pieces that are up to 24 " wide will fit in it. First I fill the stanley, the rest I wrap in the burrito. One year at the Neptune Festival (Virginia Beach at the boardwalk) - we had torrential rain and near hurricane wind most of the show - the elevated burrito wrap worked great - everything was dry and safe and still there in the morning.


Wow.  Had I known about the weather before I started I might not have begun.  OK.  Let common sense and a good night's sleep prevail. It boils down to your artwork and what will let you sleep at night.  It's good advice to keep it high off the ground and take precautions to keep it dry.


My wife and I have had her high end pottery and my metal sculpture work and both leave them in our booths over night.  Most of the time I don't have a tent up so I just move my pieces in a circle and tywrap (plastic zip ties) shade cloth around it.  Our logic has been that if someone needs something bad enough they will take it and we hope that it brings them good luck.  In over 20 years neither of us has lost a piece to theft overnight.  Weather is a different animal.


One year at Issaquah Salmon Days, someone drove a car into Mackie's pottery booth.  The next morning was shovel and restock in a downpour.  Eesh. 

wow thanks everyone for your replies! I had been more worried about theft than weather, but now I see I should prepare for weather more. Now I'm a little worried about my walls, which are made out of pegboard (which will be painted white) and they sit on the ground. the show is on concrete I believe, but now I'm thinking I should fold up my walls and set them on my table at night if there is rain in the forecast. 

And right now I simply stack my paintings in a large cardboard box with pieces of foam board between them, but I like all the container ideas I'm getting...

I have invested so much into this, (prints, tent, weights for tent, walls...everything adds up so fast!) and haven't made anything back yet, so I really think I'll lean on the side of being paranoid and take all my paintings with me when I leave. 

You should put 12 inch legs on your pegboard walls. That will allow water to flow through your booth if it rains. 1x2's should work well to frame the pegboard to make it more sturdy and for the legs also.

Larry Berman


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