sioux city (1)

ArtSplash: Labor Day Weekend in Sioux City, Iowa

After enjoying this site for several months, yet still wishing there were reviews on the shows I was interested in doing, I have finally decided to get my butt in gear and write my own reviews, no matter how flawed or incomplete they may be. This is my first, but I intend to work my way backward through the year to give my impressions for other shows.

ArtSplash is produced by the Sioux City (Iowa) Art Center and is held in Larsen Park, right on the Missouri River. Set up starts on Friday morning (not super early) and continues through the day. This year the set-up was challenging and exhausting due to the steady high winds (and usual gusts). The spaces on the east end of the show were all on pavement, with a HUGE storage area behind each booth. I'm not sure about the west end booths; they may have been on grass, but they had great open views of The Missouri! Artist parking was great; nearly next to our booths on a grassy hillside.

The show was open on Friday evening for only three hours: 5pm to 8pm. Usually, I would consider this to be a complete waste of time, but in this case it was not. The Friday "Preview" is for adults only (cash bar is available) and the entry fee was $40 in advance, $50 at the gate. There were a shocking number of people who paid these prices to gain entry to the art fair! It helps that there was good music scheduled for later (til 10 pm) on the entertainment stage. ArtSplash has a purchase patron program, and nearly all my sales on Friday were to these patrons. Overall, I did $600 in sales in three hours, which made me quite hopeful for the rest of the weekend. On Saturday morning I spoke to four other artists who were quite pleased with their sales on Friday. Some of them pointed out that last year (2009) the traffic and sales on Friday were abysmal. I am not sure what changed.

Saturday itself saw beautiful weather and large crowds (all paying $5 admission), and sales, for me at least, were steady throughout the day. My neighbors on either side (glass and silkscreen prints) were also fairly busy. The artist dinner and open bar on Saturday night was not sponsored by the Art Center, as you might think, but by one local couple. Think about the implications of that. The couple chose to spotlight some of their favorite local eateries, so there was a buffet line with food from three different places. It was a nice way to support the artists (free food!) and local businesses at the same time. The awards were well chosen, plentiful (I think about 20 artists got something) and generous (the smallest checks were for $250).

Sunday was nearly a repeat of Saturday, and I must admit that I was surprised by the number of people I saw in my booth who had been there on Saturday and even on Friday as well. Admission paid every day. At this point I should mention that the attention paid to the artists during the day was quite good. There were a TON of volunteers who were always stopping in to see if anything was needed. A cart went by several times a day with snacks, fruit, and bottles of water. Tear down was quite easy and my truck was close enough in the lot that I didn't bother moving it to load up. When leaving the park, a volunteer was there at the barricade handing out a bag full of more snacks and water for the road. I loved that final touch of kindness!!

Overall, this was a great show for me (sales about $4500), and I have to thank the jury at Arts, Beats, and Eats for not letting me in, because I ended up at a great show much closer to home.

Hey Nels! How'd I do on my first review?
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