Art Fair Insiders

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

Bright spots on the horizon in Houston, Greenville and Chicago

This is good news I have to share. Some times it seems like the art fair business and its opportunities are shrinking, art fairs aren't receiving their funding and some are being drastically scaled back or cancelled altogether. So it was a pleasure this week to read about two art fairs that appear to be thriving.

Here is what Kelly Kindred from Houston's Bayou City Art Festival had to say:

Our show was successful, (downtown Houston in October) although the weather didn’t quite cooperate on Sunday. A lot of artists still had great shows, and many reported record sales on Saturday. At least two that I can think of off the top of my head specifically emailed me to let me know that they beat their all time show records.

Then she went on to say that they had "received record applications, up almost 30% from last year!" for their Spring event in Memorial Park. I guess the jig is up in Texas. Nothing like good word-of-mouth to bring in the applications.

Another show that has a lower profile, but which I think is very nicely positioned to be a real honey, is Artisphere in Greenville, SC. Kerry Murphy, the organization's executive director, announced that they received a record number of visual artist applications for its 2010 festival scheduled for May 7-9.

Greenville is an affluent high tech community with many well-educated residents. The arts community of Greenville has put good energy into this event for a number of years bringing in outside consultants for ideas, working on different dates and putting together a strong base of local support. This year they announced a "record 682 submissions. The number represents 97 more submissions than received for the 2009 festival and a nearly 250 percent increase since the inaugural Artisphere event in 2005."

Learn more about Artisphere and this story at this link: www.greenvilleonline.com

Here's sending good wishes to any Art Fair Insiders who are jurying for these art fairs.

More good news from the fine art world. Every November SOFA blooms at Navy Pier in Chicago. Its sales are a bellwether for the art economy. "Opening Night gala on Nov. 5, with Festival Hall security estimating over 3200 - 3500 persons attending over the course of the evening. 31,000 persons visited the fair during its three day run, sponsored by Chubb Personal Insurance. Mark Lyman, Founder/ Director of SOFA fairs in Chicago, New York and Santa Fe says, "It was exciting to see the growing number of 'next generation' buyers on the show floor." He adds that many dealers reported not only new and younger clients, but also a palpable rise in buying confidence with a strong bounce-back in sales. "Collectors gave themselves permission to buy again--at all price levels."

Read the 800 lb gorilla is gone!

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Comment by Connie Mettler on November 18, 2009 at 8:27pm
Another report on the success of SOFA. It sounds like a lot of euphoria after last year's SOFA taking place in the heart of the economic meltdown: Savvy SOFA dealers were poised for the market up-turn and "went for it" at the fair, sparing no expense presenting their best artists in major presentations. Their optimism paid off with major sales in the high six figures. Of special mention was the exhibit of Litvak Gallery from Tel-Aviv, whose blackbox installation of large-scale Spheres by the Czech master of optical glass, Vaclav Ciglar, raised the bar once again for booth design. Ciglar's mystically self-reflective, large-scale egg forms sold well, as did the surreal, allegorical sculpture, chandeliers and goblets by the Venetian virtuoso of flame-worked glass, Lucio Bubacco. German sculptor Julius Weiland, new to SOFA, was an instant hit with collectors, with the gallery selling fused glass tubes and acrylic composite works in the five figure range; as well as several large kiln-cast cast glass pieces by the Netherlands's Peter Bremers that express the fragility of the changing Antarctic landscape.

Read the entire article: SOFA Chicago 2009 Three Day Wrap Report - The Fear is Gone, Buyers ...

Here's hoping for some excellent trickle down for the nation's fine art fairs.

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