Art Fair Insiders

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

Houston, We have a Problem... Bayou City Art Festival does it again.

Bayou City Art Festival (March 28-30)  seems to be having a communication problem.  Websites and Face Book pages all over the internet are buzzing.

I have no horse in this race (obviously) although I did live in Houston for ten years and I have had the pleasure of being threatened with a lawsuit by an "artist" whose work I questioned, thanks to the Director of BCAF a couple of years ago.  

And there was last year's "art heist" held during the final hours of last year's show that I objected to so some might think I don't have a lot of love for the folks running this show.

I don't make this stuff up, it just happens naturally.  Apparently no one has received any information about booth space, hotels, load-in and whatever other info is usually sent prior to the show.  Inquiries for the most part were not answered leaving artists wondering what is going on. At  one point, artists calling the number of the BCAF office heard the phone picked up and someone in the background saying  to hang up the phone.  Then there is the rumor that the show has been expanded from 300 artists to 450.    300 is a lot of artists but 450 is a ridiculous number.  If the show has attendance to support 300 that is fine but if you are going to increase your booth number by 50%, you damn well better increase your attendance by at least 75% just to be safe.  Those are very small pieces of pie for the artists.

One of the artists received an email (finally) from someone in authority at BCAF with some sort of verbiage about making this a world class event that collectors from all over the world would rush to attend except it is a little late for this year with less than a month until the show.  As to the change in the prospectus from 300 to 450 artists, this was explained by a change in the board of directors after the prospectus and application money was received.  Others are checking into the legality of changing the show from what was listed in the prospectus.  (oh, did I mention that this information came out after the date for any kind of booth refund had passed?  Is anyone surprised?)

Adding to all the fun surprises, the  Fall BCAF had an application deadline before the Spring BCAF had even taken place.  Something that hadn't happened before, it is usually after.  But, have no fear, they have extended that deadline a bit for all those who didn't know they had made it so much earlier than previous years.  

And the surprises keep on coming--those called off the wait list (you have to fill those 150 booths somehow) are not being told that the show has been increased by such a large amount either.  

Of course all this fun led to some interesting comments and questions on their FB page where you can rate the show.  Gee, that section of the page seems to have been removed and there is no place to add commentary other than under something they have posted.  

Now with all this going on, including the hiring of people to help spread the gospel of wonderfulness that the BCAF will be, one would think that there would be some information disseminated today to stem the flow of conjecture and ill feelings towards this festival but alas, the silence has been deafening.

Houston--YOU have a problem.

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Comment by Lisa Telling Kattenbraker on April 4, 2014 at 9:13pm

447 was the official count of artists/booths.  

Although I'm glad so many had great sales, I traveled from Seattle for this thing and was far from impressed.  I'll post a longer response at some point, but I'm still putting it all together in my head.  I had conversations with Susan Fowler before the show and found out more than I wanted to know about her and her place in the mess.  My perspective is that it was still a mess.  Too many artists.  A nice buying crowd, but for every one that had a great show, there were at least 3 that had a mediocre or terrible show.  It was unfortunate that after years of canceling this show due to travel logistics, this was the year I went ahead and pulled the trigger.  

Comment by geri a. wegner on April 1, 2014 at 11:39pm

I read that the number was over 400 but less than 450.

Comment by Jennifer Racette on April 1, 2014 at 10:20pm

Glad to hear some folks here had a good event.  But exactly how many artists actually were there at BCAF?  300? Or closer to 450?

Comment by Adriana Whitney on April 1, 2014 at 7:41pm

Hi Jeff, You may have skipped the last comments. I did the Bayou and it was fantastic for me also.

Comment by Jeff Owen on April 1, 2014 at 7:14pm

Hoping someone who did the Bayou City Memorial Park show in 2014 will post about the show. I have a friend who did it and he said his sales were fantastic.

Comment by Adriana Whitney on March 31, 2014 at 10:47pm
Comment by Adriana Whitney on March 31, 2014 at 10:12pm

They made a mistake by adding 150 more artists to the show after the applicants applied but a class action suit that can potentially make this show to close down, I don't think is going to be helpful to artist in Houston.

I was one of the 150 local artists added to the show and it was the most wonderful experience I had as an artist. I sold out completely and the patrons were happy with all the artists. I didn't hear a complaint and the organizers even came to my booth to ask me how I was doing. 

I live in Houston and I love the Bayou City Art Festival, it was my inspiration to become an artist and without the addition I would not have made it.

I attended as a patron for 6 years and they had always the most wonderful art but always the same artists. Some of my friends were saying they wanted something they could afford and something new, they got it this year.

Comment by Connie Mettler on March 31, 2014 at 8:11pm

Being next to patron pickup is a great place to view purchases leaving the park. Great that you were there, Renee.

Thanks for these responses -- I'm not surprised to hear the "feast or famine", goes on everywhere. Right? Here is a wrap up video from the Click2Houston.com: http://www.click2houston.com/news/bayou-city-arts-festival-wraps-up...

Comment by Paul willsea on March 31, 2014 at 12:15pm
Okiedokie...we had a good one. As in the past, good high end sales to couples in their 40's-50's. From my own conversations with patrons, their perspective was positive. Weather perfect. Good turnout without zombie herding. Focus on the mistakes of the new board if you will, but this market is hot for some. A tip of the brim to the seasoned volunteers. There is one guy who hands out the load out slips that has a really good vibe about him and seems to be wherever something good needs to happen. Show staff was courteous and flexible. We were allowed to go set up as soon as checked in.
Comment by Matthew Hyner on March 31, 2014 at 12:03pm

As I had already paid and I happen to live about 5-10 minutes away from Memorial park I just went through with it.  I about made my expenses back...Friday was a 0 day, and all I sold were small prints otherwise.  Didn't sound like other photographers did particularly well and I didn't see any of the usual crowd I'd normally see at this show.

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