washington (6)

Art Show Reviews written by You

I just want to thank Jeff Gracz for submitting several show reviews this month.  He wrote reviews for several west coast shows.  We are always looking for some west coast shows to help out artists on the west coast. 

You all know how important it is to have an idea of what to expect before applying to an art show.  Nobody likes to be blindsided once you get to a show and find out it is nothing like you hoped it would be.  That is why art show reviews are so important.  You can find art show reviews at www.Artshowreviews.com.

Here are a few west coast shows that we really could use a few more reviews for.  So, if you have done any of the shows listed here we would love you to review one or a few of them.

Bigfork Festival of the Arts - Montana

Proctor Arts Fest - Washington

Sequim Lavender Festival Street Fair - Washington

RAGS Wearable Art Show - Washington

Urban Craft Uprising - Seattle

Lake Chelan Fine Arts Festival - Washington

Bellevue Festival of the Arts - Washington

Woodland Hills Art & Craft Faire - California

America's Clay Fest III - California

We would also be happy for anyone to review any other show that you would like to.  If you want to review a show not on our site, that is fine.  Just submit it and I will get it added for you.  Then, you can add your review once I get it posted to the site.

To write a review or to submit a show just go to www.Artshowreviews.com

And once again, thanks so much Jeff Gracz for all of your help.  It was so appreciated.

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Sequim Lavender Festival, 2012

This event takes place in Sequim (pronounced Skwim) which supposedly, if you buy into their marketing, is the sunniest place in Western WA. Yeah right!!! July 20-22 and we had rain on both Friday and Sunday with very gray skies on Saturday, but thankfully one day without rain. The best weather day??? Set up day on Thursday. However, that being said, after participating in this event in the rain, I can definitely see the potential this event has to offer if the weather were sunny. Western WA residents are used to the rain, after all, there is a reason we are the “Evergreen State”. However, rain in July and August? You can’t believe the complaints, grumpy attitudes and just general “grousing” we all participate in, artists, patrons, promoters, volunteers, it affects us all. Shouldn’t we be able to have at least 2 months a year without soggy conditions?? Guess not, for the second year in a row this was a soggy festival and chilly. Temps never really got above the low 70’s at best, many hours in the 50’s and low 60’s. Not typical summer weather. I’ve included a picture of the “lake” in our booth on Friday AM when we opened.

 

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The Lavender festival attracts 500K visitors a year, many who are from out of state. Sequim is located on the Olympic Peninsula along the Strait of Juan de Fuca. On clear, sunny days, you can see Vancouver Island across the strait. It’s a beautiful part of the state and attracts summer visitors who are escaping the heat as well visitors from Seattle who are looking for a fun weekend. The festival has gone through a bit of a change with a split a few years ago and now a separate “Art in the Park” event is being held. I’ve not heard many good reports from that event, most artists there did not fare as well as those of us at the Street Fair that is part of the Lavender Festival. That being said, there seems to be a general consensus that the split of the festival and now having 2 art shows on the same weekend has hurt everyone. Soggy weather didn’t help, but the new event has added other attractions such as a balloon festival and other events that are distracting from what used to be a weekend to attend the street fair and visit lavender farms. I think both shows are suffering from too many add on events that are detracting from the original purpose of the festival.

Load in was easy, all day Thursday, they published times by location. We were there early and our area was virtually empty, the show promoter told us we were more than welcome to load in early. I never really saw any traffic snarls during load in, we were able to leave our truck next to the booth for most of load in, our neighbors showed up when we were about 80% complete so we quickly got our truck out of the way. They also allowed us to park our travel trailer within site of our booth. YES, gotta love that convenience. It made for a very easy early afternoon trip to the trailer to brew more coffee for my husband and make some chai tea for me, and yes, it was chilly enough to make us appreciate having the extra warm beverages. Load out, well, that was another story, no oversight, lots of artists who pulled in well before they were packed up. It was raining during tear down which made it more difficult, we parked at the end of the street and dollied everything about ½ a block. However, we had a “lake” forming in the booth so tear down was challenging, trying to keep everything dry, but not being able to put anything on the ground in about 1/3 of our booth. Yuck, sloppy mess, yep, summer in Western WA.

Sales??? Well, I need to crunch the numbers to see if we do this one again, but they were decent. Friday in the rain was awful, didn’t even make booth ($375), Saturday was a good day, the “be backs” really helped end the day on a positive note. Sunday, about twice of Friday, well less than ½ of Saturday, in the rain. Our last 2 customers spent almost $400 near the end of the day which left us feeling a little better. Without those 2 customers it would have been a dismal day. This show replaced a local, very steady 2 day show for us with a $100 lower booth fee and $200 less in expenses and one where we can sleep in our own bed at home. So, we have to crunch the numbers to see if we decide to try this show again. On a sunny weekend I can definitely see more potential at this show than our local show, but 3 long days vs. 2 short days, hmm, will just have to think about this one some more.

BTW, restaurant recommendation?? Alderwood Bistro, within walking distance of where we parked, has a lovely outdoor garden where you can dine, everything is organic and you see the kitchen help coming out to cut fresh herbs, etc. Doesn’t get much fresher than that, the smoked salmon pizza? Yum!

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After last weekend’s soggy experience in Sequim WA, we were excited to be headed east to the warmest part of Washington.  Several of us who had put up with the rainy weekend were looking forward to the opportunity to dry out and we weren't disappointed. 

This was our 3rd year participating in this art show.  Last year it was our best show of the year and still stands as our best 2 day show EVER!  So, we went into this weekend with expectations of a good show, but also trying not to be overly optimistic.   Sales?  We hid the dead center of the results from the past 2 years, less than last year but much better than our first year and to date this year, our best 2 day show of 2012 thus far.  In our minds we at least achieved our goal for this show.

 

Load in / Load out is fairly easy, I blogged about the show logistics, fees, etc. last year so instead of re-writing all of that, I’ll refer you to last year’s blog:

 

http://www.artfairinsiders.com/profiles/blogs/allied-arts-leaving-richland-a

 

We had several repeat customers and seem to be building a great client base in this area.  This is the one big show they have each summer and is well attended.  We were a bit disappointed to see how they had reconfigured the portion of the show where our booth was located.  We had the same booth number but instead of having our nice shady location we were without shade most of the day, we had a lot of comments from customers that we had one of the hottest booth locations, groan, grumble, etc.  Set up and tear down in the direct sunshine was also a little more exhausting, but at least the tent dried very quickly after being packed away in rain the weekend before.

 

Friday sales started early and rapidly  between 9-11 and then seemed to die for a couple of hours.  The crowd seemed to shrink about 2 PM until early evening.  We had a few sporadic sales through the afternoon and then after 6 PM the crowd seemed to multiply quickly and we closed the evening with a few more sales.  Overall it was our lowest Friday at this show, a decent day but not the great day we had last year on Friday.  Friday’s weather was warm (97 for the high) with higher than normal humidity for this part of the state.  We were saved by having a fairly windy afternoon, that helped keep the air moving and made it feel a little more bearable.

 

Saturday started slower but sales were very steady for us from 10 – 4 and then a few last minutes sales between 6 PM and 7 PM.    The weather was much more pleasant with a high only in the lower 90’s, low humidity and a wonderful breeze for part of the day.  Saturday was a better sales day for us and the crowd was pretty steady all day.

 

Overall this is a fairly pleasant show to do.  No artist amenities are offered, the focus is really on just the art.  There is a stage with music and some performances by various dance groups, but it’s off to the side and the volume is not an issue.  The food area is close to the stage and there’s plenty of seating near the food area so we did not have near as many people walking through with messy hands, trying to touch jewelry while eating their junk food.   The show is held the weekend of the hydroplane races on the Columbia River.  I learned this year that this used to be a 3 day show and years ago the organizers decided that holding the show on Sunday wasn’t worthwhile for the artists due to the races, so they shortened it to a 2 day show and eliminated Sunday.  Nice to see a show where the organizers are actually concerned about making it worthwhile for the artists. 

 

This is a show that most likely remain on our schedule and continues to be the start of our summer road trip. Next stop?  Couer d’Alene ID, Art on the Green.  Hoping to get a few things restocked between now and Thursday.

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Our third year at this well supported community event.  It’s one of our favorite locations and favorite 2 day shows.  What’s not to like about island life??  The views from this location are fantastic with Mount Baker and the Cascades to the east, the Olympic Mountains to the west and of course, the Puget Sound that surrounds the island.  It’s a small, community festival that attracts tourists who are vacationing in the area or Seattle area residents who have weekend homes on the island.  The locals support this festival and they have great volunteer support.  Whidbey Island is very supportive of the arts, Langley is listed in John Villani’s “The 100 best Art Towns in America”.  The Island also has a large population of retirees who are very supportive of the art shows in the area.   This is a show that is primarily about the art, you don’t see clowns, stilt walkers and other sideshow freaks.  There is a music stage, the music on Saturday was definitely better than Sunday and if you were close to the stage the volume was a little too loud.  The music late Sunday afternoon was absolutely too loud and dreadful music to listen to, it made me wish I had ear plugs!

 

It’s one of the few shows we do in the summer that Saturday night ends at 6 PM instead of 8 or 9 PM so we actually get a little more time to hang out with friends in the evening.  We once again brought our grill and had a great visit with other artists where we were camped.   The show does offer shuttle service for the patrons from the ferry dock to the show and I talked to several people who took advantage of that service and were pleased that it was available.  Artist parking is away from the show, a mostly uphill climb from the down town area, however they do provide a shuttle that would be convenient if you weren’t bringing all your product in and out each morning/evening. 

 

Load in went very smoothly for us this year, the volunteer committee running the show communicated much better regarding the start of the load in time and knowing that they are always running behind we arrived a little later than our stated time and barely had time to change out of sandals into our tennis shoes before they were telling us to get back in the truck to the staging area.  This year, at least for us, seemed to be the smoothest, easiest load in we’ve had at this show.  We again had help from a volunteer unloading and were able to quickly get our truck out of the way. There was also an artist reception but it was during the same time as load in so I didn’t hear any reports of artists taking advantage of free nibbles and beverages.

 

This year the show added 20 booths, 10 of them jewelry and I was a bit concerned going into the show.  In the end, sales were the best we’ve had here in 3 years and we went home happy. Unfortunately not all the artists were quite as happy, but overall most seemed okay with the show.  I didn’t hear of anyone making a killing at the show, but neither did I hear anyone really complaining about not making expenses except for one oil painter who sells only one of a kind paintings and no prints.  Some of the jewelers reported lower sales than last year, the fiber artist who makes beautiful sweaters was having a slower than usual show but we also know some wood artist and a ceramics artist who were having great shows.   There were several artists that I see at various shows that I hadn’t seen here before, many of them had done this show in the past and added it back to their schedule this year.  3 of the artists who came back for the first time in a few years were pleased with their sales.

 

Weather was perfect, sunny and in the low 70s, the “heat refugees” from the horrible high temperatures in the Midwest who were on vacation were absolutely delighted to be here instead of at home.  Almost 100% of our sales on Saturday were to tourists, most of those non-Washington residents, almost all our sales on Sunday were to local residents.  Our booth was in the second quad from the shuttle stop, so we heard a lot of “I’ll be back” comments, this was definitely a show where the “be backs” actually came back, about 1/3 of our sales were from “be backs”.  Sales on Saturday were fairly steady until about 5 PM and died the last hour.  A street dance is part of the festival on Saturday night, most of the artists are closed and gone before that event begins.  Sunday started slow, we had a good “flurry” in the middle of the day and after 3 PM it was dead.   Our sales dollars were fairly evenly divided between the 2 days, but the number of sales on Sunday was far less than Saturday.

 

One of the most difficult parts of doing this show is just getting to the island, you never know how long the ferry wait is going to be.  Coming in on Friday, a 3 hour wait was posted, we were on the ferry within an hour of getting in line, Sunday night however, we had a 90 minute wait and then the drive home seemed longer than usual due to heavy traffic going through downtown Seattle.

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Tide Fest - Gig Harbor WA

We participated in the 31st annual Gig Harbor TideFest event on December 3-4. Gig Harbor is a small town in northwest Washington, just across the Tacoma Narrows Bridge and is an affluent community.   Having participated in this event for the past 2 years and the Gig Harbor Summer ArtFest for 5 years, we’ve built up a following and several repeat buyers in this community so we went into this show with reasonable expectations.  The event is  the main funding raising event for the Gig Harbor High School and is very well supported by the students, faculty and the parents.    This was the first year with a new director in charge, Brad has worked as the assistant director for a number of years and while the previous director said she was going to retire, she was still very visible and continued to provide her expertise to the festival this year.

 

One of the highlights of the show was getting to meet Joe Clifton in person.  On Sunday morning he spent several minutes reviewing our list of California shows we were interested in for 2012 and giving me his honest and frank feedback.  Many thanks Joe!!

 

When all was said and done, we breathed a huge sigh of relief, our last show of the year was over and for the first time since July we were up from last year’s sales on a show that was a repeat show for us.  While several of our spring shows were up from 2010, summer and fall shows were all down with the exception of our show in late July, so it was a nice way to end the year.  That being said, this isn’t a huge show for us and I don’t think it’s one where many artists had huge sales.  Sales were okay, this was our 3rd year doing this show and our sales were slightly above our first year, way above last year, but overall not as good as I expect for a show in this community with a  $220 booth fee. 

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                           

The student support at this show is awesome.  I don’t think our truck has ever been unloaded so quickly, we happened to arrive when there were 20 kids standing around waiting for work and the assistant director sent them all over to our truck.   My husband just kept handing things out of the truck, I went into the gym with the first load and never came back out for a second load, everything just appeared right in the booth space so quickly it was amazing.   Load out we also had a lot of help, the students were more than willing to help break down, pack, etc.  There were plenty of volunteers available for booth sitting, food was available and the students were willing to deliver it right to the booth for lunches. An artist breakfast was provided on Sunday morning that was great, real food, not just coffee and donuts!  During the show they had carts with snacks, beverages, coffee, etc that were coming around constantly, if we had partaken in all that was offered they would have been rolling us out the door at the end of the show!  Beware – this is a show where it’s really easy to overload on caffeine and Christmas cookies!

 

Some of the noticeable changes for 2011 included less booths for the show, which might have helped our sales since there seemed to be less jewelry than past years. The aisles were wider, booths did not extend all the way into the corners of the gym and the smaller, wrestling gym which probably had 10-12 artists in prior years was closed off this year.  There were also several empty booths due to “no shows” so I’m guessing there were at least 30 less booths than last year. Communication to the artists was not very efficient, it was all done via the website, this year they had more issues than normal with the website, it was up and down several times and down for most of November until the Monday before the show.   There was not a list of participating artists  or booth assignments on the site this year like there had been in the past. No emails are sent to notify artists of acceptance or booth fee deadlines, we actually missed the deadline by a couple of days but that turned out to be a non-issue. 

 

I don’t have the attendance numbers to validate this but the show seems to steadily be decreasing in attendance.  Artists who have participated in this show for 10 years or more all commented on the same trend at the artist breakfast.   Instead of advertising it in the paper, they sent out brochures to the local community.  I did see at least one reader board with info right off the highway, but issues with the website and reduced marketing seemed to have impacted attendance.  There was  never a very large crowd and the buying energy that we saw during our first TideFest event never materialized. 

 

Overall, it’s a very easy show for us to do, 20 miles from home and more help from the students than we could utilize.  Hoping that for next year they rethink some of their marketing and start getting the attendance numbers back up.  If it truly is going to remain the largest fund raiser of the year for the school, they need to focus on making sure enough people attend to keep the artists coming back.

 

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Tried a new show this past weekend that we had heard great things about from other artists in the past. It has been on our "list" for sometime but there was always a show that had higher potential that we were accepted in for the past few years so it's been a second or third choice for us.  This year it fell on a weekend when we didn't have any other shows so we were thinking, great, we'll try it.

 

We should have stayed home, yep, that bad.

 

Port Angeles is a town on the northern side of the Olympic Peninsula, the show is held in a park right off the City Pier, right next to the ferry terminal which shuttles tourists to Victoria on Vancouver Island, BC. Port Angeles is also where the tourists make the turn to go into Olympic National Park and the Hurricane Ridge area.  However, due to lack of signage, I doubt most visitors to the Olympic National Park knew there was an art show as their turnoff to the park occured a few blocks before the ferry docks and the city pier. Tourists following Hwy 101 around the Olympic Peninsula might have had a clue that there was maybe, something going on, but again, not much signage, not great parking, especially for anyone in an RV or towing a trailer.  So, in a location where there's a lot of tourism in the summer, it wasn't capitalized on very well at all, especially for a show that's been around for a while.  Even some of the locals remarked that they were surprised, they thought it was the last weekend in July, having 5 weekends in July and the show is the 4th weekend seemed to throw things off a bit which indicated not enough marketing had been done to get the word out.

 

Show was smaller than we expected, only about 45 artists, 25% was jewelry and they were proud of the fact that they limited it to that (yes, we scratched our heads at that comment), they had an established chain maille artist (really a hobbyist, her one show a year with really LOW prices) who had done the show for 11 years, another local artist who did sea glass and crocheted pieces.  Why they let us in, (Chainmaille, knots, crocheted and knitted jewelry) when they had 2 similar artists in such a small show is a mystery that I can't explain.  So 25% of the show was jewelery, 10% was soap, 15% was glass.  Hmmm, not very well balanced.  I will say the potter near us did very well, but she was the only potter in the show, the fiber artist with her wonderful reversible hats made on an old fashioned foot tredle sewing machine did very well, one jeweler with a prime location seemed to do well.  Everyone else we talked to, including artists with very nautical themes seemed to be suffering.

 

Load in was easy, with either Thursday PM or Friday AM times, show started at 2 PM on Friday so as long as you weren't one of the last artists to arrive you could park and unload near your spot and then park your vehicle elsewhere while setting up.  We loaded in early Friday, around 8:30 AM after driving over on Thursday evening and setting up the RV for the weekend at a local county campground. Set up went smoothly, sun was shining, nice breeze off the ocean, looked like a great setting.  Came back about an hour before the show was to start, by then it was cloudy, chilly, and overcast.  We opened up the booth and sat there waiting for people to show up. We did have 3 sales all day Friday, but other artists kept saying, wait until Saturday.  So, we left, not really happy, but ok that we had almost made booth on a show that was beginning to sound like a show that was scheduled for 3 days with only one day of real selling opportunity.

 

Saturday, quiet when we started, didn't make our first sale until 2 PM.  It was foggy and chilly when we arrived, fog fianlly burned off around 11:30 and the sun came out but still, not many people, especially not down our aisle due to a really funky layout.  I think we got about 1/3rd the traffic of the entire show.   Knew at that point the show was not going to be a winner for us, knew we were going to be lucky to cover booth (a modest $175) and expenses.  Not a good feeling.  About 4 PM we had the 2 ladies who were our big spenders from Friday show up, each purchased yet another item.  Without them we would have not even coverd booth between Friday and Saturday, they were 2/3rd of our sales over the 2 days.  About 5 PM, as the show died for the day, knowing we were open until 8, I started chatting with other artists who had done this show before. Their reports, everyone was way down, except for a couple of artists with prime locations, and everyone said Sunday was the slowest day of the show. It didn't give us much hope.  We had covered all expenses but had little hope of making a profit.

 

So, after lots of discussion, we decided to do something we've never done before and always said we wouldn't do.  We packed out Saturday night after closing time, went back to the campground and drove home Sunday morning.  As my husband quoted that famous country singer, "sometimes you have to know when to fold them", we decided that a Sunday afternoon at home to start prepping for a 4 week road trip made more sense than a Sunday afternoon with little to no sales and what promised to be a horrendous load out Sunday night.  BTW, we were not the only artists leaving Saturday night and there were a few who saw us packing out that said if they weren't local and didn't want to get a bad name for themselves in that area, they would have also left. 

 

So, we went home, got a few chores done and started working on packing for our "road trip to summer".  http://www.artfairinsiders.com/profiles/blogs/road-trip-to-summer

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