Art Fair Insiders

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Dismal, dismal, dismal..."Jacksonville" Fine Arts Festival (April 20-21, 2013)

:  The original post of this story, and a substantial number of the comments that followed it, contained a one-paragraph reference to damage that occurred when a photographer's vehicle hit another artist's tent. 

The photographer contacted me by phone today to present his side of the story, which included some information that I was not aware of at the time. And he felt that I was unfairly painting him as a bad guy.

Although we disagree on whether it was appropriate for me to mention the incident at all, given that I was not in the vicinity when it occurred, the one point on which we do agree is that--whatever happened in the heat of the moment--eventually, the right thing is being done, and the issue is being amicably resolved through the parties' respective insurance companies. 

I took notes as he spoke.  And I offered to post a comment on his behalf presenting his side of the story and explaining his point of view.  He declined, not wishing to provoke another round of commentary. 

Many of you know I was a journalist long before Al Gore, or whoever it was, invented the Internet.  In the world of traditional print media, even today, reporters are taught to check their reporting with (at least) two sources before filing their story.  And although there are no such rules in the blogosphere, my instincts are always to do just that. 

Truth be told, I had the thought to try to get in touch with this photographer as I wrote that paragraph...and didn't do it.  And he deserved that. For that failure, I apologize.

So:  What to do to make this good?  As I promised the photographer I would do, I spoke at length with Connie Mettler (publisher of this site). She left it up to me. 

In figuring that out, I stepped back to look at the big picture--what was the point of writing the show review in the first place?  And that one's easy: I had found, on AFI and elsewhere, a decidedly mixed bag of opinions on this show.  And I felt that it was, and is, important to keep on the record that this show, for whatever reason, didn't give the vast majority of its participants a fair shot at success. 

So I'm not going to delete the thread.  I HAVE removed my account of the collision from the thread.  And, to address the issue of fairness, I HAVE deleted comments that mention the collision, or the photographer. To give everyone who posted a chance to read this update, I am going to leave it up for awhile.  At some future point, I'll delete the update so that all that remains is the post itself.

I understand that this may not be popular.  But I think it's the right thing to do.  If you disagree, you are welcome to text-message me and tell me.  (Please do not start another thread.) But just so we're all clear: The decision is mine, and mine alone.  Not Connie's.



Dismal attendance and sales at the so-called "Jacksonville" art festival, which drew 'way fewer than 2000 browsers, most from the immediate neighborhood. Although the festival was promoted by "the Shoppes at Avondale", the show itself was held in Boone Park, a pretty park in the Avondale neighborhood which unfortunately was some blocks' distance from the shops.  Very little signage to lure patrons from the surrounding streets, and no major arterial close enough to the show to afford visibility. Not that, in this 1920s-era neighborhood, it would have been easy to accommodate outsider parking, anyway.

The weather can't be an excuse.  Granted, it rained most of the day on Saturday; hardly anyone attended, and you couldn't blame them.  But Sunday was nice show weather--cool and partly cloudy--and most the folks I spoke with on Sunday had planned to come the day before, had the weather not been bad.

One fine artist near me--and I DO mean fine!--sold a single $4 notecard in two days. The jeweler next to me barely made (under $200) booth expenses, and said she "got price resistance all weekend." The photographer next to me sold about the same, and is retiring from the business.  The painter who won "best in show" sold a $7500 painting, but as one artist commented, " Good for him!  And that's probably more than the rest of us put together."


The organizers did a great job communicating before the show. But that's where communication ended, pretty much--they didn't even come by and thank us for attending, let alone ask how things were going.

Although there were some schlocky booths at the show, there were also some really superb artists and fine craftspersons, whose time and talents were largely wasted this weekend. And that's a shame. Based on the level of pre-show communication, I certainly expected better. 

You have been warned. :-(

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Comment by Maryllis Wolfgang on April 29, 2013 at 1:28pm

I'm glad to hear that all's well and ended well.  Happy sales.

Comment by Lucy Ann Clark on April 29, 2013 at 1:26pm
All has been resolved in my world. The insurance company has reimbursed me and the artist has apologized. It's a lesson for us all to be more patient and aware while working at a show. Looking forward to the rest of the season!
Comment by Geoff Coe on April 25, 2013 at 3:53pm

Well, with luck (and maybe, if needed, a change in dates) the show will survive.  I'm glad you, your vehicle, and your new brakes will, too. 

My brake line blew once as I was headed down a hill in Colorado.  One of the <ahem> more exciting episodes of my driving career!

Comment by Brian Horan on April 25, 2013 at 2:13pm

Sorry to hear about the dismal show everyone .I was accepted to do the show , but as I was leaving the house my brake line blew .$265 dollars later am rolling again but don't know which was worse sitting home all weekend unable to go or hearing how bad the show was .

Comment by Alan Anderson on April 25, 2013 at 9:56am

That is wonderful news, Lucy!  Perhaps he was a good person that just had a horrible show (sound highly likely?) and let his emotions of the moment rule, and after calm reflection, chose the high road.  I think it would be appropriate to share the Artists name, in a positive tone, once it is all resolved.

Comment by Geoff Coe on April 24, 2013 at 6:57pm

Owl photos will sell anywhere in the country, including up North where I'll be heading in two weeks.  So the timing is very handy, Annette!

Comment by Annette Piper on April 24, 2013 at 6:44pm

Sorry to hear of another dismal sales show Geoff, there seems to be a few around at the moment.   But on the upside, love the owl photo!

Comment by Suzanne Ens on April 24, 2013 at 10:07am
I told everyone I could that this show was horrible and to stay away, on Facebook and anyone who asked. Still it looks that some didn't get the memo. Last year it was on a different weekend, March24-25.
Comment by Kevan Breitinger on April 24, 2013 at 9:33am

The huge One Spark event in downtown Jax may have factored in on this weekend, too:(.

Comment by Barry Vangrov on April 23, 2013 at 5:20pm

Sure

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