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Of course the Miami Herald cannot ignore the Coconut Grove Arts Festival. Click on the link to read all about it, see a video and some images from the event. Don't miss Duncan McClellan's fine blown glass, a fixture at the festival.

This article by George Leposky of gives some more background for the festival and what I liked even more, a fair number of images of the arts. The Festival gives out some 50 awards, but George and his wife, Rosalie, give out awards by sharing with you their favorite work. Good choices, George! Member of, Mark Glocke is included.

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Comment by geri a. wegner on February 17, 2009 at 9:53am
Sadly, every artist I spoke with said they were having a very slow show. This was in addition to all the cancellations by artists before the show.

The quality did not seem to be compromised at all. The work was beautiful as always. There were a lot of new artists this year.

One thing I don't understand, with all the amazing work being done by jewelers in various mediums, how Triskoe won for best jeweler is disappointing. If a person wants jewelry like his, they can go to their local mall. Guess the purchase of his double corner booth is too much to pass up but to win an award??? (sorry, his work really offends me, if you couldn't tell!)
Comment by Barry Bernstein on February 19, 2009 at 4:15pm
Well, I guess this makes the second year in a row that people are disappointed. At least gas prices are half what they were, so, that expense was significantly less for all those Northerners coming down to do the show. I don't believe the focus is on the artists anymore. If you walked around, objectively, you would see that the best spaces are reserved for Verizon and the other commercial ventures. The committee has lost sight of the fact that the artists are the attraction and that they should be taken care of, like it used to be before Carol left. I don't think it is a coincidence that my all time best year was the year they fenced off the artists from the food, etc. Inside the fence there were no distractions.

About Triskoe, he wins a lot of awards at shows. He's a nice enough guy. If you think his work is a little commercial.... The problem is that these shows and the judges they hire are a product of McDonalds, 30 second sound bytes, inane television, cheap mass produced products from China, etc. Most people only see and surround themselves with commercial products.

I have to stop myself from going on and anything I might say or have said is only meant to make things better for everyone.
Comment by Connie Mettler on February 19, 2009 at 8:42pm
Barry, were you there this year exhibiting? The booth fees are really not right. I noticed that several artists who were prizewinners last year (and therefore, exempt from jurying) were not on the exhibitor list.

My favorite years were the years when Marla Bercuson was the director. She was a true advocate for the artists and understood the importance of the art - not in the short run, but in the long run, to keep this event a destination.
Comment by Patty Lindquist on February 20, 2009 at 12:32am
We did the show and while our sales were not up to Grove expectations, we did OK. I walked the whole show and talked with many other artists, most weren't doing great, though a few said a couple of buyers had made their show. Some were saying they only did a fraction of the last time they did the show. My take: the quality of most was outstanding, I did question a booth selling Nicaraguan pottery, although the guy said his family did it, the show is supposed to be for individual/partners, not a studio- and the "made in Nicaragua" tag was on the bottoms- not to mention I walked St Stephens and found the same pottery there - family or no, it should not have been in the Grove.
The show seemed to be cultivating a carnival atmosphere, with 40 foot square booths, taking up the whole street, for verizon, and the festival's sales. Very loud mikes with people playing hip music and seeing who can yell loudest for the freshest guy and win a free phone- yikes- the festival had HUGE booths selling framed posters for 100 bucks, and giclee prints for 200- but wait, I thought the artists couldn't sell reproductions, but the festival can? Those booths took money from artist pockets- Add that to a 850 booth fee, 45 jury, 30 to park, plus travel, and the festival charging 7 a head, and you have to make a killing to make any money at all. I think they make plenty of money on the gate, and should lower their booth fees until the recession is over, at least. The crowd was large, seemed heavily latino, not people who usually buy from us, so we probably won't be back after all these factors weigh in.
Comment by Barry Bernstein on February 21, 2009 at 12:14pm
AT $7 per person, and a gate of 300,000, they take in $2.1 million from the gate alone. Seems like they should pay the artists instead of charging them. Oh, wait a minute. That's only reserved for athletes and "real" artists like rock stars and actors.

We are the dumbest bunch of morons because we allow this. We pay for the right to be rejected, then a space rental, then all the expenses coming to and from the show, parking, etc. and then we generate hundreds ofmillions for the community. Then, as soon as it's over, we are again non-entities. I wonder what it would be like if we decided to boycott the show until we got a little back? Hey, I would settle for free parking, a reduced show fee, and a couple bottles of water.

I didn't do the show this year. But, I remember a time when the artists were appreciated. I used to say that this was the show that was the model for the way all shows should be. And, incidentally, in those days most artists grossed $6000 to $10000 or more. That translates to $12000-$20000 in today's dollars.

The thing that stands out the most from last years' show was how loudly and hardily the artists clapped, at the awards dinner thanking the committee. Meanwhile, at least a third of the artists I talked to sold nothing, zero, zip, nada, while everyone else connected to the show were well compensated. That left me with a really bad feeling in my stomach.
Comment by Connie Mettler on February 23, 2009 at 11:04am
Here is the wrap up from the Miami Herald about the Coconut Grove Arts Festival: At least it is not bragging about how much money the artists were making as last year's article did. That motivated the NAIA to survey the artists to see if they were in agreement. Read the results of that survey here: Congratulations to Betsy Youngquist - Best of Show winner!
Comment by Barry Bernstein on February 25, 2009 at 11:22am
I'm interested in the claim that the 150,000 attendance was the "biggest-ever crown." I'm assuming that figure was accurate based on paid attendance. However, I could have sworn that, at one time, the attendance was 300,000+. Of course, without a paid attendance, the figure is just an estimate. Connie, what is the attendance estimates for AB and E? Ann Arbor claims 750,000 for the four days, I think. 150,000 seems low for a show that is supposed to be #1 on everyone's list. Does this mean that since they started charging, attendance has dropped by 50%?


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