Art Fair Insiders

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

ArtFair Outsider or Auditing the 14th Annual Downtown Denver Arts Festival 2012

Has it really been that long since this show premiered? Man, I've been around a while! This show originally came into being as a Colorado artists show only which, I presume, was a reaction to the Cherry Creek Arts Festival not being particularly inviting to Colorado artists at the time. I participated in the very first show when it premiered on the lawn in front of the Denver Center for the Performing Arts which fronted on Speer Blvd and had a lot of visibility but not a lot of visitors. Later it moved into the canyons of downtown Denver at the Pavilions which is an urban shopping center of sorts. The show is run by Jim DeLutes a long time exhibiting artist/photographer turned promoter and my impression is that he is very attuned to the needs of artists at these kinds of venues (how about a word from the participating artists on this?). In talking to Jim on several occasions I was left with the impression that he is very conscientious about the way that he puts his shows together. Jim has opened this show up, for the first time, to non-Colorado artists which presumably would give it a fresher selection of art, especially after 14 years! So, although there was a good representation of art from around Colorado there were artists from as far away as Washington state!

Although I did not participate in the show this year I thought I'd run downtown and audit it to get a feel for whether is was worth doing or not. I had applied to the show last year (first time in gulp 14 years) was wait listed and while waiting to see if I got in made other plans, got called later for a spot. This year I was wait listed as well and without other plans decided to check out the show.

Like I suggested the show meanders in and around a downtown shopping center which covers two blocks of prime real estate. Additionally the show crosses over a pedestrian mall area on the street level and there is an outdoor tent with many artist booths inside that as well. I don't know what it is about Memorial Day but this show has always had its share of windy weather and this year was no exception. Friday, setup day, there were breezes a blow'n in town with Saturday, the first show day, very windy, smoke from several AZ fires made the skies hazy all day! Although there were no reported mishaps with tents this year, that I heard about, that has not always been the case in previous years! I believe that is why they started using a large outdoor tent to protect the artists on the backside of the mall due to a pretty serious wind event one year.Some of the tents are also tucked under a pedestrian walkway which crosses over the street level. Most artists had their own lights and if you were in the tent or under the bridge it was a good idea to have them! Artists on the street didn't seem to be in need of them as much.

I stopped by on Sunday morning at ten and found out the show didn't officially open till 11. No worries, some of the artists were beginning to open for the day and I stopped to talk with several of them. My usual impression of downtown Denver on a weekend, let alone a holiday weekend, is one of a ghost town with the usual street people scattered around. Not so this day. I wasn't the only one at the show too early as others came by to view any open tents and by 11 there was a steady stream of people throughout the show. At one tent the artists wife reported that Saturday saw a very steady stream of people but not much buying and this was reinforced by another artists report. I'd like to hear from participating artists on how their sales were.

Quality of the art at the show? There was quite a bit of variety in this show. I do photography (NOT canyons and NOT wildlife) and I was relieved to see a broad range of subjects unlike most shows that I have done lately. Not to snub anybody but just a quick impression that I was left with in retrospect. Susan Williams horse portraits were probably the most striking I've seen, not the usual animal stuff. The ceramics that I saw were very unique as well and not only "functional".

So there ya have it, my impression as an "outsider" I'd love to hear comments from those that were "insiders".


Some shameless self-promotion...See me next...June 8-10, Omaha, NE for the 38th Annual Omaha Summer Arts Festival, a new one for me, thought I'd try east for a change-up as I had read a favorable review of this show.


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Comment by Annette Piper on May 30, 2012 at 5:20pm

LOL that's what you get for being lazy LOL, I saw Kathy's post and didn't scroll back to the top for your name Brian!

Comment by Kathy Oda on May 30, 2012 at 11:08am

Oops!  Sorry about that!

Comment by S Brian Berkun on May 30, 2012 at 10:33am

Who's David?  ;-)

Comment by Annette Piper on May 30, 2012 at 7:54am

Great review from an visitor's perspective - thanks David :)

Comment by Kathy Oda on May 29, 2012 at 4:03pm

Thanks for the review, David!  I used to love going to this show when I lived in Denver.  I bought my first piece of blown glass at this show.  It was the most money I had ever spent for a single piece of art but I was so entranced with the piece that I had to have it no matter what.  

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