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