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Hello Art Family! Here's a quick run down of Beaux Arts Festival on the University of Miami Campus and my last minute avoidance of Islamorada. 

Beaux-- I love this show. I've participated the last 5 or so years in jewelry or in sculpture.  I've done it when they moved the dates to early in January and when they moved the dates back to Martin Luther King's Holiday weekend.  I love the campus, the relaxed vibe, even the trailer port-o-let they drag in for the weekend.  I find the students to be young, vibrant and the future of our industry. Performance wise, sales have declined significantly. This year I made half of what I did in my initial showing at Beaux. Saturday had great energy and pizzazz, leaving me hopeful for a solid Sunday and a meet's expectations. However, Sunday was slow, strollers and kettle corn littering the campus. Who knows if it's Art Deco Weekend or other Miami events dragging customers and their buying energy away, but Sunday would have been a good day to clean the grout in my booth floor if I had a tile booth floor. 

Friday check in and set up weather was bad; sweeping lines of deluge Typhoon style rains and big, bad, black clouds. The volunteers were hunkered down in the organization's tent. Saturday morning was met with a Tornado watch on the drive into the show. Yikes! I saw 4 or 5 booths that had been smashed by the mature palm trees loosing their fronds in the high winds. Maintenance was working hard to remove additional questionable limbs, but for a few artists, it was much too late. Buying energy was good on Saturday- but not a frenzy. Sunday was a brilliantly sunny, sometimes windy day with no buying energy at all (for my work and in my opinion). The artist breakfast is really great-- love to snag a bagel to eat during the last minute jewelry set up-- and it's both days. The passing out of water seemed a bit anemic and I never did see a booth sitter. 

Love you Beaux, but I think I'm breaking up with you. 

Islmorada-- The revived show has all the right moves, with good potential, and an absolute failure to deliver. I was not a fan of the move to the beachfront, even if classic car shows are held there-- it's not great for glass jewelry cases. It's apparently also not great for terrible on shore winds and severe weather. Communication from the show was prolific, if not a bit arrogant and self serving, and got steadily worse as the storms barreled down on show weekend. Good meaning promoters don't mean professional- deliver what they promise promoters. They rearranged the show around the resort it was held on-- off the beach, but I'm a planner and I like to know where my booth is, what set up is going to be like, and what to expect.  Last minute scrambling on a shows part isn't horrific-- it shows poor prior planning to me. (I'm ex-military and live by the 7P's: proper prior planning prevents piss poor performance.) With the severe weather forecast on set up day (SEVERE), and 35 mph winds gusting to over 50 mph on Saturday, I decided to pull out. I don't mess with mother nature. The after action report from an artist friend said Saturday was indeed bad-- dangerous even. Sunday saw no buyers at all. Sad, it really is such a beautiful place to visit.

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Comment by Christina L. Towell on January 29, 2016 at 9:22am

Good reviews of shows that have been victimized by Mother Nature or maybe more accurately, El Nino.  Sorry you had such a bad time with poor sales but do appreciate the information, thanks and better luck next time!

Comment by Joe Edwards on February 1, 2016 at 7:15pm

We did both shows and agree with your reviews.  We will continue to try Beaux Arts because it was only our second year and we like the same things you liked about the show.  Sales were down considerably from the first year, but we are hopeful that better weather and better show location will help next year.  

In spite of all our misgivings, we set up at the Islamorada show.  Because we are staying in the area for several months and had already paid for the show and would not have additional expenses, we figured we should be able to at least make our booth fee.  Wrong!  Easily the worst show we have experienced in our seven years.  We have heard all the talk about the weather killing this show, but I am convinced that is a false read.  We also heard talk about a big advertising budget but never saw any form, visual, print, tv or radio of this show being advertised.  A 3 foot tall sign stationed at the entrance of the resort was all we ever saw.  Because the 2016 Islamorada Show was moved from a very visible and accessible location to a place that cannot be seen by the traveling public and it was not extensively advertised, every artist that applied to, paid for and set up for this festival all suffered losses as a result. 

Comment by Jennifer Boyde on February 2, 2016 at 9:36am
Hello,

I'm sorry the Islamorada show was such a bust! I was actually traveling in the area & did attend. I came early on Sunday and there was no foot traffic. I got a postcard advertising the event at a tourist welcome center in Key Largo & entered the address in my gps. (We still drove by on the first pass!) I was very impressed by the art on display and did make purchases but moral was pretty low. It's a shame the event wasn't more visible, hope they remedy in future! Such a beautiful place!
Comment by Carol Joy Shannon on February 3, 2016 at 9:55am

Thanks for an excellent review of Beaux Arts, Margaret.  I've been doing it the same time frame as you and have the same sentiments.  I love the show.  I like the ambience, the volunteers, and many many other aspects - but this year there was no buying energy at all.  Saturday was a beautiful day, but even my usual collectors weren't in evidence (in spite of invitations etc.) and the people who showed up appeared to have little interest in acquiring .... well, anything!  When the show staff asked for ideas the following week, one of the things I mentioned was the lack of any visible advertising.  Often, when a show is well established (65 years....,) they seem to think that everyone knows about it.  But Miami is a much bigger city than it was 65 years ago and there's a lot more to do.  I do believe that having Beaux Arts on the same weekend as the Art Deco event in South Beach does hurt it, because that would be a similar interest crowd (as opposed to, say, a soccer game or something less arts-centric.   The biggest difference I noticed this year was that no big pieces were walking by my booth in front of the museum.  Almost no pieces at all; in fact, I saw people with prints, period.  And on Sunday afternoon -- when the dedicated are back to get a good deal, only one medium large piece went by.  This has never been a big bucks show for me, but until this year it has been a reliable one and an enjoyable one.  They need to kick it up a notch.  Spend some money!

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