Arts in the Park - Richmond, VA

Let me start by saying that almost everything AFSB says about this show is true. It is dusty, very dusty. Not so much at first but once the grass, struggling to survive under the onslaught of many, many feet, gets beaten down it gets really bad. And it has stuff in it that even the most forgiving of definitions couldn't be called art. I'm talking rubber welcome mats in different colors and air plants. The directions provided by the show suck. They tell you to take the Douglasdale Rd. exit off of 195. On my three trips to the park I never did find Douglasdale Rd. I got close once, actually took the exit but apparently Douglassdale Rd. makes a quick turn that I missed. All I can tell you is get to Byrd Park and head for the Carillon.Load in is difficult but well orchestrated, extremely well orchestrated. Once I found the place I was directed not only to my area but to a parking spot that was as close to my booth as they could get me. You cannot drive up to your booth and it is a long dolly. The volunteers and staff were wonderfully friendly and helpful. When I inquired about handicapped parking nearby for my husband who came to help on Sunday they made special arrangements for him to park in the artist area and gave me an extra parking pass for him. They don't make you check in. Volunteers actually bring your material to you at your booth. What a great idea. And this is a big show, over 400 artists. Amenities are slim, doughnuts and coffee in the morning but no tickets and plenty of both. There were booth sitters but I had a friendly neighbor and didn't need any.Supposedly the "dust bowl" is where they put new artists but what it seemed like that is where they put actual artists. Most people around me had done the show before and had requested the same location. With the exception of some tie-dyed clothing most of the people nearby had real art. Once you get closer to the Carillon the stuff got questionable.I did well, surprisingly well. It came in as my second best show of the year and one more sale would have put it over Vero Beach. For the most part it seemed a well-off crowd who looked the show first and bought after they had seen everything. They seemed to be an art-appreciative crowd. When I mentioned that I had gotten a space in one of the area co-op galleries most of them knew of the place and a lot had been there before. I believe I had a good price point for the crowd (around $200). The painters with higher priced work next to me did not do as well but I think they both pulled off a money-making show by the end of the weekend.Booth spaces are exactly 10' x 10'. They are well marked and woe be to anyone who goes past those marks. The person behind me got a little snarky because my rug was over the line. Seems we could have worked that out but she got around it by shoving the rug back into my booth and making a nasty comment. She was the only unfriendly person I met all weekend though. Booth spaces are cheap ($150). I'm considering getting two next year just so I can spread out some.All in all a great experience and I am pleased.
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  • I forgot to mention, the show supposedly opens at 11 on Saturday and Sunday.  People were there as early as 9AM on Saturday and I sold two pieces before the official open time.  Be sure to set up early.
  • Excellent review, Alison. All the necessary details. We made the trek to Richmond once for exactly the same reasons that Pat stated, looking for Spring and an open weekend. Once was enough though mostly because of almost non-existent sales, which, of course, is the purpose of the whole exercise. Loved being in Richmond, a very cool town.
  • We did this show for a few years, mostly to go to a place where Spring had happened already :) The first year we were in the dust bowl which was a disaster because I work with handmade paper. We did pretty well in sales, though, so we applied again and requested a move to the carillon area which we got. Much better. I like the city and the people and the show, but hotel rates can be crazy if there is NASCAR that same weekend. Anyway, our sales tanked more and more each year until the last one 2 years ago when we barely made expenses. That year we talked to really wonderful artists who sold zippo, nada. So we reluctantly gave up on our traditional early foray into Spring. But I miss that show. The guys who help you park the van are incredible. (don't look just listen to what I say). And, yes, the directions are crazy. We spent an hour trying to find Midlothian Parkway and then I overheard my husband asking how to get to the Fallopian Highway and I realized we were in trouble. heh Anyway, glad the show is doing well again.
  • Congratulations on having a good show. Thanks for a very helpful review. This is the kind of information that we can use.
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