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My wife is tolerant, otherwise my head would be off after this one. I did Loring Park two years ago and did badly. I did it again, thinking that I had newer work and I had finally gone to canvas prints for my photography. It wasn't working and I lost my shorts once again. She was right, I was wrong, and I won't be back just like the patrons who say they will. Maybe it will work for some, but there will not be a third time looking for a charm. Outside of the lousy sales, I did have a fun time and had some great neighbors.

Okay, let's start off about the show. The promoters were pretty diligent about communications, sending several emails in advance reminding everyone where to go, what the regulations were, where to get the tax info and licenses. Can't fault them there; they were on it.

Set up was on Friday, unless you were crazy enough to try it on Saturday morning. Space was approximately 12x12, and my space was under a giant Linden tree, next to the trunk. By scooting to the far edge of my space I was able to have an open outside wall. While it was dark under there, I brought 2 boat batteries and a half dozen lights. The back of the booth faced the lake and a few shims were needed to keep the tent reasonably level. Lots of room behind the booths. I lucked out as the prevailing wind came through the back of the booth and kept a nice breeze going most of the time. I brought fans and only needed to use them a few times. My next door neighbor was Dorothy Schutte, a fabric artist who had bought one of my pieces about 15 years ago, and we had a great time. Dorothy is German so we dubbed our location Unter den Linden ;-)

Saturday started off slow with the show opening at 10:00. By 10:45 we were wondering if the gates were opened or not. Traffic was slo-o-o-w. By 1:30 it looked like the usual traffic about 15 minutes before closing. I sold one flip bin piece the entire day. The crowds never materialized as they should and I saw very few packages being carried. WTH? The weather was nice, warm out but not the usual blistering August heat. It never rained although skies looked dark a few times. I did hear that it rained at Uptown and that show closed early.

Sunday was supposed to rain at tear down, so I put up the back tarp as an awning in case it rained. Since the tree over us extended way out past the back of the booth, there wouldn't be any direct rain on us. If I were going back, I would ask for that spot again. Same story as Saturday, slow traffic and thin crowds, and little buying energy. A painter across from me zeroed out for the show, a mixed media artist around the corner did half of what she usually does, and some others said they didn't make booth fee back. I only sold another flip bin piece on Sunday, so my sales were embarrassingly low. Adding all expenses up; gas, food, lodging, booth fees, and some incidentals, I took about a thousand buck hit on this show and didn't even get to the Mall of America afterwards.

I did find out that about half of the artists at the show are new to it, as were the ones around me. That's always a red flag. The layout seems picturesque at first with everyone circling around the lake, but that makes for a long walk. To be blunt, most of the patrons looked long in the tooth and gray of head. Relatively few were young ones until Sunday when a lot of young folks were there looking like it was an afternoon date to check out (not buy) the artwork. A lot of the older folks aren't too crazy about making a long walk around the park.

Now this is the part that no one is going to want to hear. The security folks are not off duty police; they're a couple of guys with a security shirt on and a walky-talky. They can't be everywhere and they are limited as to what they can do. The show has a problem, and always has, with the homeless. A tool bag was stolen from one artist on Friday night and left in someone else's tent after they figured out they couldn't get much money for it. A few people found tarps unzipped the next day, two booths down from me had someone sleep in their booth overnight. Another artist found all the snacks she had left in her booth had been opened and eaten. At least this year, no one had their booth used as a latrine, which has happened before.

Speaking of latrines, we had use of the park facility indoor restrooms on Friday and for a little while on Saturday morning, but someone locked the doors to them and we had to use the Port-a-pots after that. We learned quickly to stay away from the Park dept port-a-pots by the basketball court because they were disgustingly nasty. It didn't help on Friday when one of the artists next to us went down there and found a couple in coitus flagrante delicto inside one of the johns. You would have thought they would have at least locked the door ;-/

Parking was a pain in the wazoo, with no free parking anywhere [edit: close], and the [edit: free] locations were about 3 blocks away. Three blocks is okay if you're young and healthy. I have bum knees, bone on bone, and a bad ankle. I asked about handicapped parking of which there were maybe three spots, all of which were used by residents around the park. One spot was so far away it did no good whatsoever, We were told to not park around the park itself in order to leave those for patrons. The north side of the park, past the tennis courts, was adjacent to a commercial area and far away from any of the art tents, about a 2-3 block walk. Seemed like a good spot as we thought the parking ban was adjacent to the show side of the park. I only had to stop and sit a couple times when my legs hurt too much. So here's the clincher on that good spot :-) Several other artists were parking there also. I found out at show's end that the show folks checked out the parking and took license plate data. Those people won't be allowed back into the show in the future. Ask me if I give a damn, it's a moot point anyway. This is a show I'm permanently removing from future consideration. 

Given that sales were way, way too low, and the overall feeling that the show works better for local and regional artists, I have to say that I won't return to this show. I gave it a shot two times, there won't be a third time. At any given show, there will always be some that do exceptionally well, and others that don't do as well. Unfortunately, I was in the latter group.

Views: 1440

Comment by Roxanne Coffelt on August 8, 2014 at 1:58pm

Wow!  Thanks for sharing that.

Comment by Robert Wallis on August 8, 2014 at 2:39pm

I'm starting to feel that having three shows running concurrently in town, even with shuttle buses making a loop from one show to the next, is overdoing it. I heard folks at Powderhorn weren't doing all that well either. Whether the shows are cheek to cheek like St. James or Ann Arbor, or spread out like this, it's just too many artists and not enough buyers.

Comment by Robert Wallis on August 8, 2014 at 4:27pm

Pat, the person who told me the info about the license plates did observe someone writing down tag numbers. That is someone I trust. Possibly someone else was doing that for their own reasons, but given that the meters were free on the weekend, I have no idea why they would do that.

Regarding the parking issue, the free spaces were so far away as to be unworkable for me. I have limited walking capabilities and can't do the long walks. The handicap hanger tag is there for a reason.

However, I'm not here to abuse your show but to report on it as I saw it. Anyone losing the amount I did, as did others, will have to look at the economics of it and make their decisions on their situation. I've been doing shows since 1988 so I'm hardly a newbie. The crowds down at my end of the show were buying low cost and smaller work. I also know that higher end pieces were moving, albeit at a slower rate. The average price of my work was $195. That was too much for the crowd as that stopped conversations many times.

Sorry if it may sound sour grapes to you, but the clientele wasn't buying and I would be a fool to return given two of the greatest loss shows I've ever had. I gave this show another shot after a terrible return two years ago, and thought the changes between then and now would fix the issue. It didn't, so the obvious answer is that my work and price points aren't a good fit.

Comment by Christina L. Towell on August 9, 2014 at 8:45am

Sounds horrendous, should listen to your wife.

Comment by Robert Wallis on August 9, 2014 at 6:50pm

Heh, she reminded me ;-)  This makes me wonder if there's a regional preference for certain types of images. I do okay in the Indiana-Ohio-Kentucky area, and sometimes Illinois. I've had the occasional misfire locally and make some bad show choices, but do okay well enough to keep me at this. Well, five more shows for the season and I still kick myself for spacing the deadline for Upper Arlington back in the spring.

Comment by Oscar Matos Linares on August 10, 2014 at 3:29pm

I was planing to my review about Loring but here is my experience. It was 6.5 hours drive from Chicago to MN. I took off at 6am Friday and made it to my hotel by 12:30. Checking in and took care of myself, eat lunch and head to set on Friday and took my time. The one thing that I learned about this show it seems to be a Saturday show for me. I pass my sales from last year on Saturday. I was very happy with the big Saturday but what I was worry about Sunday. I only made 200 on Sunday. I firm believer that people visit all three shows. I got friend artist that his big 3000 sale at Uptown was a lady the walk Loring Park also. Main reason she and her husband have cool tattoos.

I know another artists that had your same experience (actually a few). I will tell you I will love to do the show again and have the same spot. That goes for the all the artists in my section except for two. One Artist took off because her daughter was at Uptown and she could not keep up and was running out of stock. She was not happy about the lack of traffic. You have no idea how angry I was about that. I got other people that had good mailing list and done as good as  other big shows. Someone told (I hope was a really bad joke) he does as well here as Cherry Creek profit wise.

In terms of security I will tell you I felt secure even I had a drunk sitting in a bench next to my spot until I was almost done. He ask for water and I gave him a bottle of water. Loring Park is located in safe area if you want to feel insecure check Powderhorn.

Parking, it only cost 3.50 per day at the sculpture parking lot and the most expensive was 5.00 per day. I can understand you do not wanting to walk but there was a parking lot each side of the park. You not talking a miles away. The show cost 225.00, I think. I got myself a room at the Red Roof at Plymounth which is about 8 miles away. It cost 210 including taxes for three nights. The place was clean and nice and it is the fifth time I stay there because you a mile away from a Target, Home Depot, Cub Foods, the movies and decent not expensive restaurants.

I am sorry but who is stupid enough to leave at any show anything that can be sold at pawn shop. I never leave anything of resale value at the booth. I also think that can happen everywhere.

If you done the show before and did not sold that much to justifying doing show before it wont matter how you present your work. If you try bad show again it needs to be a new body of work.

Comment by Robert Wallis on August 10, 2014 at 4:02pm

I parked at the end of the park past the tennis courts. As I mentioned, I have bad knees, so what may seem short to some people is difficult for me. Five years ago the distance would have been no problem. Unfortunately the handicapped spots were never open. The handicapped tag sometimes is merely a hunting license, and not a guarantee that a spot is available.

The work was about half new pieces since two years ago. The new work didn't fare any better than the old work, so presentation didn't make any difference. BTW, we stayed at a Microtel about 20 minutes away so we kept the expenses down that way.

I didn't have any problems with the homeless getting in the tent. The back opening has another panel just in the front of it at a right angle. I stacked my storage tubs in the doorway and braced them with more tubs on the inside so the back of the booth was effectively sealed. I took my tool box with me at night just in case. The time before I had a homeless guy sleeping on the bench next to my tent. I gave him some water and food before I left each night figuring that would be good insurance.

I will say that the basketball players cleaned up their act since two years ago. The language they used last time was off-putting to the patrons and I cringed hearing a lot of it. I was further away a little bit so maybe that made a difference. 

I have the feeling that my section is for the newbies to the show as most had not done the show before, and that may color the perception of the show, but when most of them around me were complaining mightily about low or non-existent sales you have to wonder, particularly since I wasn't the lowest in the section. 

It does come down to me taking a roll of the dice on the show and I didn't get a "7". My buyers weren't there, simple as that. No one can have all things for all people. If your people aren't there, don't go back, and that's what I'm doing.

Comment by Sue Lukas on August 11, 2014 at 11:02am

It was a 5.5 hour drive from Milwaukee to Minneapolis so that I could be part of Loring Park Art Show. Sales were down for me also, but not awful. It's a beautiful park setting and we also had nice friendly neighbors. I parked at the Walker Art Museum both days for $5 and $7 each day.

I heard from many artists that their shows were down for the weekend. No one could explain why. Many visitors walked down the center of the show without even looking in booths. They listened to the music and ate free chips while walking, met friends and enjoyed the beautiful weather. 

I joined Corporate Lodging recently and found a great rate at an Extended Stay Hotel. Though I haven't received a statement yet from them. I don't know exactly how much it cost. It's a long drive, and I'm not sure I will return. I may try other shows next year.

Comment by Pat Falk on August 11, 2014 at 6:04pm

This was my 7th consecutive year at Loring Park.  I always asked for the same location as there was a huge tree behind my booth that provided great shade for the hot years.  When I drove up to my spot this year, that tree was totally gone along with all its shade.  I remember the first year I did the show and worried about the homeless getting into my booth, but I've never had a problem.  I do take down a lot of my art at night just in case.  That way I can sleep better.  I live an hour away, so I drive home and sleep in my own bed.  As for sales, I was down this year also.  In fact it was my worst year in seven.  That said, I still made some $$$.  I do have some collectors who come each year and that helps.  There are so many things I like about this show:  The committee is great to work with and they send out timely info.  They have kept the booth fee lower than most shows I do.  I like the Friday setup, but I don't put any art in until Sat. morning.  The spaces are roomy and the setting is great for an art fest.  I can back up to my space and unload and load without any dollying.  You can link your website and post your images on their Facebook page.  They are using social media as a building block to get younger buyers.  This is a business, and I have to make sales and turn a profit.  As long as I am, I will return to Loring Park.

Comment by Robert Wallis on August 11, 2014 at 6:22pm

Thanks Pat ;-) The only issue I really had was the lack of sales and the walk. The load in and load out was easy, the spot was great, the committee did everything they were supposed to do and kept everyone informed, and no one slept in my booth or performed bodily functions in there at night. For whatever reason, my work didn't go over strongly enough. I felt the venue had enough promise from the last time despite a poor showing then, and I rolled the dice on this one.  Like you said, it's a business and if I don't make a profit I go somewhere else. Good luck at it next year :-)


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