Art Fair Insiders

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

Heat, Humidity Scuttle Estero FA show (Jan. 5-6, 2013)

I've reviewed this show extensively in the past.  For more background, see my blogpost from 2011.)

Hot, humid weather and white tents make for an unsavory sales environment.  Artists get cranky; customers go brain-dead.   And the high temps and humidity, under mostly sunny blue skies, drove the buyers indoors and scuttled sales at the Estero Fine Art Show in Miromar Outlets, Estero FL this weekend.

Which was a real shame, as Patty Narozny and her Hot Works staff delivered a reliably high quality show, in the face of competition from the Naples show on Fifth Avenue south.  But the attendance and buying energy, which showed a bit of promise on Saturday, disappeared entirely on Sunday as the temperatures and humidity both rose into the mid-80s. By Sunday afternoon my row had only a couple of dozen browsers, and I could see that customers were resisting coming into my south-facing tent, even though I had two portable fans running in an attempt to lure them in. 

For the second straight week, I didn't even hit four figures in sales.  Sold one canvas at a fairly deep discount, a smattering of 16x20 mats on Saturday, and nothing but 11x14 mats on Sunday.  No be-backs, no cash sales, and not many of what Nels calls "good shoes people" walking around.  As a result, I'm several thousand dollars behind my year-over-year pace--the first time in five years I've hit a downturn.  I didn't talk to a single artist who had a good show, although some said they did "okay", without enthusiasm. 

The artist across from me, who makes charming containers from recycled materials, came back for a return visit after she wowed the crowd at HotWorks' October 2012 Miromar show.  She won an award this weekend, and deservingly so, but could count her customers on one hand.  Like everyone else in my vicinity, she was shaking her head in wonder.  Load-out was the quietest I can ever remember, as everyone worked with grim efficiency to clear out and put this one behind them.

I have had a few conversations since Christmastime with folks I know from New Jersey, New York, Pa., and Delaware, and we're all wondering if our customer base from the Sandy-ravaged Northeast will be making the trip down to FL this year.  As a decidedly unscientific experiment, I swapped my usual wide brimmed straw "show hat" for a Phillies cap on Sunday--lots of folks from the Northeast  can't resist making a comment.  Only one customer all day said anything. 

It's early yet, of course, but this is two lackluster shows in a row, at a time of year when that's never happened.  Luckily, I opened up a solo show at Jonathan Dickinson State Park in Hobe Sound, clear across the state, on Friday night before heading back to Estero, and my work sold briskly over there on opening night.  Maybe I should charter a shuttle and bring 'em to Cape Coral next weekend. 

Onward. 

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Comment by Bev Gallerani on February 19, 2013 at 10:52am

Agree with the observation about too many shows in the Naples-Ft. Myers area in season; there seems to be at least one every weekend and sometimes two (last week it was both Bonita Springs and Coconut Point -- you could just jump into your car and drive ten minutes to get from one to the other).  Also, for the last few years Bonita Springs has increased from two shows to three, which also doesn't help.  One of the issues with the Miramar HotWorks show is it's held in an open parking lot with no trees and not one iota of shade.

 

One more issue I don't think anyone has touched on yet in this area is that the same dealers tend to do all or most of these shows, and customers are becoming fatigued with the same old same old.  As a shopper, my favorites for variety and quality are ArtFest Ft. Myers and, when I have the energy to travel that far, Coconut Grove.  Yes, it's gone downhill over the years but it still draws fresh faces and exciting work which is getting harder to come by in the Naples/Bonita Springs/Estero/Ft. Myers area.  This market is just oversaturated.  As for Howard Alan's shows, he has a group of loyal dealers who follow him, resulting in the same issue -- few new faces.

Comment by Larry Schneider on February 19, 2013 at 7:25am

It appears as if the year is off to a bad start.  Hopefully its  not a indicator for 2013.  I did Dunedin Florida ,Howard Allen , Jan 12 and 13m selling paintings.  All check points were good to excellent ie, weather, promoter , exhibitor quality, food,  crowds ect.      Sales stunk.   I only talked to five other  exhibitors and all agreed.

Comment by Barry Bernstein on January 14, 2013 at 12:58pm

That should read "27 shows in the Naples-Ft Myers area.

Comment by Barry Bernstein on January 14, 2013 at 12:57pm

There are way too many shows in Florida. Somebody said that there are 27 shows in the 14 weeks between Jan 1st and April 1st. There is more money being spent, in total, but, each artist is getting a smaller share of the pie. Being a free market capitalist, I will defend anybody's right to put on a show. In the same vein, the only way to solve this problem, is to not do Florida shows until the directors cut out a certain number of events.

Comment by Annette Piper on January 9, 2013 at 5:01pm

PS Read on Facebook that Naples wasn't that great.  Nels will hopefully post about it soon.

Comment by Annette Piper on January 9, 2013 at 4:54pm

Sorry to hear this Geoff. 

I find heat really doesn't help people buy more expensive items - you're right the heat has drained their buying energy.   Plus, I do very little post-Xmas.   There is lots of buying energy up until the fortnight before Xmas then it shuts down (apart from men buying last minute gifts!) and I don't sell much till the post Xmas credit card shock has recovered a month or so later!

Comment by Geoff Coe on January 7, 2013 at 4:31pm

@Nancy:  You know, I didn't even think about the fee, one way or the other.  I just checked their site at hotworks.org.  There was NO FEE this year.  Thanks for asking, I should have reported this.  As for the weather, you know what they say, it's not the heat, it's the humidity!  84 degrees and 85% humdity feels like 95%...in the sun, that's hot; in the tents, hotter still.  We're a little more used to it than folks from the upper Midwest and Canada, I would assume, and the crowd at Estero seemed to skew a little older than usual, at least to me. 

@ Jacquelyn: Well, I just took a phone order for a second Gallery Wrap canvas from a woman who had been trying to find me at three shows this weekend to order it, but whose husband wasn't on board as of 5 PM yesterday.  So that helps a bit!  Doesn't change the overall picture, though. So far, I haven't heard much from Naples Fifth Ave., so I'm hoping Nels and others will weigh in!

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