Kansas City (MO) Downtown Art Annual
The Good: Location, people, show staff, Horace Washington & Friends
The Bad: Results
The Ugly: Tornadoes
First let me say that I was impressed with what Kansas City has done with the Power & Light District, the downtown area where the show was held. It appears that the city has invested a considerable amount of resources to make “The District” a vibrant place. I have never been to KC prior to this trip so I have no idea what the area was like before, but now it seems like a happening, downtown area. Good job, KC.
Friday setup was in the rain the entire time, a drenching, steady rain. Fortunately by the time I was done with setup and got back to the RV to change into something dry the rain had stopped, the sun was making occasional appearances, and the streets were drying out. Reason enough to be optimistic since my show the previous weekend was a total bust. See other’s reviews of Art Birmingham.
The Downtown Art Annual is on fairly narrow city streets so setup/teardown can be a bit tight, but everyone worked pretty well together. The show is a three day affair with setup starting at 11:00 am Friday and the show running from 5-9 pm that night. By 9:00 pm it is pretty dark and lights are needed for your work to have any hope of being seen. There is power available but there is a catch. The city light poles have electrical outlets which we were allowed to plug in to, if we had a way to reach them, they are about 25 feet above the sidewalk. Needless to say nobody took advantage of the “available” power.
Sales, at least for me, were less than expected, I covered expenses plus a little. I am a black & white photographer and had a lot of interest in my work but couldn’t get enough people to pull the trigger. However, the mixed media artist next door did quite well. Saturday was the busiest day with a good sized crowd that seemed genuinely interested in looking at the art and talking with the artists, as opposed to just strolling through the zoo, looking at the animals in their cages, and eating a corn dog. For the most part I found the customers to be considerate, appreciative, and fairly sophisticated. Never once was I asked to give a discount, all of my sales were at full price. How often does that happen? Friday evenings crowd seemed to be the younger, hipper, KC downtown residents and if your art appealed to their tastes, good sales could be had. Sunday was the slowest day with light crowds and equally light sales.
As has been my experience at most shows that feature music, it was way too loud! During most of Saturday communicating with customers was difficult. I enjoyed the music, it was a nice blend of blues and jazz with a touch of rock n roll, but I wasn’t there for the music. Sunday’s music was a welcome relief. While still being a blend of jazz & blues, the volume was several decibels lower. Horace Washington & Friends, the first of two musical groups on Sunday were quite fun and entertaining from noonuntil 2:00 pm and continually urged the crowd to “buy art”. I spoke with him afterwards and expressed my thanks for his encouraging the folks to buy art and he said, “Unlike you folks (the artists) we get paid no matter what. You are the reason everyone is here, we are here to support you”. How refreshing!
There was no food court. This was a Howard Allen show, a first for me, and from my understanding HA shows do not have food courts. FYI.
As a side note, I have experienced just about every kind of weather in my years of doing shows except a tornado. I am from the Northwest and the T-word strikes paralyzing fear in me. I can deal with earthquakes, wildfires, rain, wind, snow, ice, but please, no tornadoes. Turns out that the tornado that destroyed Joplin, MO happened on the Sunday of this show and was only 150 miles away. Way too close for my comfort. My thoughts and condolences go out to the folks who were affected by this devastating storm. Makes my less than expected sales pretty insignificant.