Call for Artists, Making Money at Juried Art Fairs, Craft Shows and Festivals
This blog is aimed mainly at you newbies or any artist who has never been at a show yet where a dangerous weather pattern hits.
I was at Columbus this weekend with Ellen showing too. We both escaped any damage. We were lucky, but also did some prudent things.
In the more than 1300 art festivals I have done, I have had my booth leveled twice. A hurricane, in MARCH at Vero Beach in 1994, leveled my booth and everybody elses. Winds came thru at 4:30 am clocking at 80 mph. Had my canopy blown away at Springfest Charlotte. Nasty winds downtown.
What we are going to discuss does not have anything to do with when you are at a show and you get a rainstorm. You still need to take proper percautions to keep you and your work dry.
When a nasty storm cell, like what hit Columbus, things can become very serious as evidenced by the pics on Facebook showing the damage.
Most times shows are on top of dangerous weather and give artists a heads up. Sometimes there is no time for a warning which was the case in Columbus.
If a bad storm is coming here is what you should do.
First, make sure all your weights are properly in place, if are staked to the ground, make sure everything is tight and right.
Second, zip the booth up tight on all four corners.
Third, if there is time, take down all awnings on front and rear--they are just wind-catchers which will endanger your booth.
Fourth, and most important, GET THE HELL OUT OF YOUR BOOTH. Get to a shelter or get to your van, asap. Do not try to ride out bad weather from the inside of your booth. It could cost you your life or a limb.
The natural inclination of most people, when faced with bad winds and storm conditions is to stay and try to physically hold up your walls against the vector forces. Don't do it. Flying debris from your neighbor's booth or your own booth can cause nasty, sometimes fatal injuries. Several artists were injured Saturday by flying objects.
Believe me, it is better to lose your booth and art and inventory then to sustain an injury. The hospital bills will be much higher. You can always buy another booth, you can always make more art. But if injure yourself, it may cost you time in recovery without making art or money.
When winds were buffeting the rear of our booths I was yanking poles off the rear canopies as fast as I could. Ellen was inside her tent trying to rearrange stuff. I yelled to her loudly, "Get the hell out of there now, Ellen, go to the van. She did.
If your booth takes a direct hit, nothing is going to save it. You could have 10 Shaquille O"Neilles hanging on to your walls and they would be blown away as easily as grains of sand.
If you have a corner spot at a show, it is great for business, but it sucks for bad weather. You have to be extra vigilant.
What was tough about the Columbus situation was that the show was checking with the local weather and it showed, at 7:15 pm, that really bad weather was supposed to hit around 9:30. Guess what? Two minutes later the cell hit. It was like it germinated right there at the show. None of us had any real warning except for two big facts. You could see the sky was getting dark purple, the temperature was falling fast. Secondly, as a product of our SmartPhone culture, hundreds of shoppers were all showing the radar to each other. There was a lot of anxiety.
I noticed it and took the very precautions I have previously mentioned.
After the storm passed, we got out of our vans and surveyed the destruction, it was everywhere around us. The show said another bad storm was still coming and for everybody to get in their vans or shelter. This was around 8 pm now. I looked at Ellen and said, "We have done all we can do to protect our booths and they are still standing. Let's go get some martinis and eat dinner."
And that is exactly what we did.
PS. Before we left we helped others, but many did not want any help.
We were lucky.
REMEMBER, GET THE HELL OUT OF YOUR BOOTH, YOU CAN ALWAYS MAKE MORE ART
I just remembered a kind of humorous situation related to winds at art shows. Hopefully you will appreciate it too, plus it leaves this blog on a lighter note.
So, about 1985 I was doing a December show on Miami Beach. I had an early KD canopy like so many others. Our booths were set up in a narrow park by the water between tall hotels--a classic wind tunnel if there ever was one.
This bad storm hit us late afternoon, winds were in excess of 30 mph. My neighbor was this little old lady probably about five-feet-tall who was painter. She had a KD and it was not weighted down anywhere.
So, me and several others are hanging out in our vans behind our booths, smoking hooters and drinking beers. All of a sudden we hear this tiny plaintive cry through the wind,"Help me, please somebody help me."
We ran over to her tent. The wind was blowing fierce. She was holding on to the canopy for dear life, and with each sudden gust, she was being lifted four feet off the ground with the canopy. She kept yelling "Help Me."
Finally we got six guys on the darn canopy to hold it down and release her. She was one grateful woman.
The next day I went out and bought my Newton Porto-Canopy which I still use to this day. It has weathered many bad storms and is till standing.