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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.

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Comment by Robert Wallis on August 12, 2014 at 8:11pm

@ Cindy-please reread for comprehension; "I did find out that about half of the artists at the show are new to it, as were the ones around me." This does not state that everyone around me were newbies, it follows that the ones around me were the same as the remainder of the show. There is no "us vs. them", and I suggest you read the entire thread in a calm state of mind without the adversarial mind set, or at least read the  post directly above. You're several steps behind in following what has been said and the reactions have been overboard.

I realize you have much time and love invested in this show, and while I had frustration and disappointment in doing poorly at the show, 95% of what I wrote was laudatory for the job you and the others did in running the show. When you are that much emotionally invested in what you're doing, even the slightest criticism can seem hurtful. Obviously others feel the same as you do or there wouldn't have been the sudden signing up of some new members specifically to come after me hammer and tong :-)

The only real suggestion I have is to figure out some sort of protocol for limited mobility artists, perhaps something as simple as giving them a phone number to call where they could be picked up at the edge of the park or someplace a bit further if need be with a golf cart or tractor.

I can't offer a fix to bump up attendance or how to reach out to target audiences as that's not my bailiwick. In reviewing some other reports on this show, post mortem as it were, it confirmed my suspicion that the work I had was above the average price point for my media by about $50.

I wish you and the other artists well next year, and please keep in mind that malice was not in my heart. I hear and I see, sometimes what I hear may be flavored by someone else's viewpoint, but I try to give a balanced view point. 

 

Comment by Robert Wallis on August 12, 2014 at 7:03pm

Okay, boys and girls, I seem to be getting hammered and in one case insulted. Someone would think I called their dog and their child ugly. Somewhere along the line some of you have gotten their shorts in a bunch and have not read carefully what I said, what was opinion, and what was fact. This is taking way more time than what is worthwhile, but let's take it from the top and see where where any lies or so called distortion is. we'll take all this a paragraph at a time, if you don't mind, and Pat and Cindy can respond to each one.

Paragraph 1: 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.

Okey doke, nothing terrible here, just admitting I made a mistake and lost my shorts, and won't be back.

Paragraph 2: 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.

Hmm, seems like I was complimentary there. Gave you guys kudos for excellent communications to the artists and having very good instructions on what to do and when.

Paragraph 3: 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 ;-)

Okay, here I describe the set up, and am giving nice attaboys on the layout saying there is lots of room behind the booth, not too much of a slope downhill that can't be corrected with shims and I had amiable neighbors, not to mention having options on set up times which some shows don't have. So far nothing negative or misleading said here.

Paragraph 4: 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.

Any arguments on this part?  Traffic was slow starting, picked up a little, and then slowed back down early afternoon. Let's put this into perspective, you can advertise like crazy, which you guys apparently did, but it is beyond your control if everyone decides to mow their grass and wash their car that day. That is not your fault, nor am I pointing a finger in that direction. Given that many said their sales were down, the few packages being carried bears that out, although you wish to dispute that as it doesn't cover jewelry purchases.

Paragraph 5: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 said here I had a good spot, I liked it, and if I returned I would ask for it again. No big deal except I'm not coming back.  Some others in other sections of the park may have done better on Sunday. This was information given to me by others around me and I see no reason to think they lied to me. I reported what I saw regarding crowd flow.

Paragraph 6: 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.

This part may be open to interpretation, but 50% new artists sends a flag to many of us out there as that indicates that half of the artists don't want to return. The email evaluation from the couple seem to feel that's a good sign of a healthy show, but I'm sorry that I don't see it that way.  For the other part, what I observed was a high proportion of older clientele walking around on Saturday. If someone's work is conservative or aimed at that group, it's a good sign. If not, sales will suffer. I did see a fairly high percentage of people with canes and other aids, and as I was in a shady spot, people would stop and talk out front. I heard more than once, someone complaining to their family members about the walk. I would imagine that once they got further inside, the benches would be welcome, and again this is something many shows wouldn't have. Again, I don't see where I've said anything in here that is misleading or fallacious.

Paragraph 7: 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.

Sorry, but most of the shows I've done that have security utilize either off-duty policemen or private security firms. No disrespect to these guys as I saw them out and about during the day doing their job. This is the part that must be a local issue as I've not seen this problem to this extent in 26 years. Then I hear the same problem exists as the other shows in town. It wasn't a deal breaker as I knew of it beforehand, and arranged my booth so it wasn't a problem.

I don't think there is any dispute over the accuracy of the rest of this paragraph?

Paragraph 8: 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 ;-/

The park department restroom was probably out of your control, as I never implied that it was. It would have been nice had it remained open, but that was probably their call and not yours. The park department port-a johns by the basketball court were the closest, but nowhere near the cleanliness of the ones brought in. The multipurpose use of them merely speaks of the users of the basketball courts and their hangers-on. I don't see any issues with this paragraph?

Paragraph 9: 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.

Now we arrive at the contentious part and where the the pissing contest seems to begin. This part has been hashed to death earlier in this thread. The parking was close enough for those of reasonably good condition. I wasn't happy with the walk, my knees ached badly and I had to stop a couple times on the way back. Again not a deal breaker.

Now the part that seemed to be the one that got you guys going was where I related being told the show folks were taking license numbers and banning those from future consideration. This sort of thing is known to happen. Fact is someone was observed taking down license numbers. Both you guys are vociferous about it not being your staff. Fair enough, although someone does have to wonder who and why they were doing it. Okay, I'll accept that I was told wrong on this score.

This leaves us with three points of disputation; the parking issue which for me has to do with being unable to find a handicapped parking space and the parking police. I concede the taking of plate numbers to be as you state it, nothing done by your staff. The  "about 50% new artists" can be either good or bad depending on how you look at it. If someone wants to argue that point, a full disclosure of artists and times at the show would settle that if someone feels strongly about it, but generalities aren't the way to prove it. My last two sentences were no doubt inflammatory, and in particular exacerbated by what I believed at the time to be petty behavior, also governed by the location of the street parking adjacent to a commercial area with their own high traffic levels.

I am willing to go back and edit those last sentences about the parking spots and my opinions on not returning. I still wouldn't return, but I can say it in a better fashion :-)

Since I been accused of false erroneous reporting, please feel free to go through this and cite in each paragraph where I am grossly in error.

 

Comment by Cindy M. Jacobson on August 12, 2014 at 6:00pm

Oscar-

Thanks so much for letting us know about the artist who packed up on Saturday, that is frustrating for organizers and not fair to neighboring artists.

Comment by Cindy M. Jacobson on August 12, 2014 at 5:58pm

R. Wallis- As the assistant director of the Loring Park Art Festival, I need to respond to a few of your statements because of the inaccuracy in them. The jeweler next to you has done our show for 15 years, not once as you stated. I'm not sure how you determined 50% of the artists exhibiting were new to the show. We have new artists - every art fair should, and some of our artists have been in the show for 5+ years with many of them for the 15 years of the show's duration. Some of the artists near you have been part of our show since 1999, not all were first timers as you stated.

Your statements -"..the show folks checked out the parking and took license plate data. Those folks won't be allowed back into the show in the future" - are completely false. I will reiterate what Pat Parnow stated, NO ONE from our festival checked artist license plates (an impossible task I might add given the scope of parking in the area near the park); we were busy circulating the festival-attending to artists, customers, musicians, performers, sponsors, volunteers and the general management of the festival.

Please check your information before you post untruthful statements. I sincerely am sorry you didn't have a good show, but your 'us versus them' attitude just creates ill will; art fairs are hard enough work for ALL of us.

Comment by Bill McLauchlan on August 12, 2014 at 5:24pm
"one of the artists next to us went down there and found a couple in coitus flagrante delicto inside one of the johns."

This reminds me of a French artist we were next to at a show who recounted a similar story only the couple in question was in his booth when he arrived Sunday morning. In what I am sure would be a typical French response, he told them to hurry up and finish.
Comment by Oscar Matos Linares on August 12, 2014 at 5:03pm

One thing I want to clear out. I was angry that an artist left the show because she believe that was not worth to be there and daughter was doing great at Uptown so she pack up at the end Saturday.

Comment by Cindy M. Jacobson on August 12, 2014 at 3:59pm

Oscar-

As one of the organizers of the Loring Park Art Festival, I appreciate your perspective and input!

Comment by Cindy M. Jacobson on August 12, 2014 at 3:54pm

Pat Falk- Thanks for your posting, your confidence in the job we do as organizers is much appreciated.

Comment by Robert Wallis on August 12, 2014 at 2:29pm

@ Bridget; we're obviously at opposite ends of the spectrum on this. I sense your reaction is overstated, but you are entitled to your opinion. Thanks for the feedback.

Comment by Robert Wallis on August 12, 2014 at 1:36pm

Ann, I agree with you and there was no complaint about the space, the set up, the tear down, and the overall logistics. Hey, I loved my space; under a nice shady tree with just enough room to open up an outside wall, oriented just right to catch the breeze and blow through the tent, and overhanging branches that shaded the back of the booth all the way through the afternoon. The only thing to make the space better would have been free beer :-)

Not everyone is diligent to make their tent unusable for the homeless. The jeweler next to me had done the show once before and knew that the easiest thing was to wrap everything up and leave the sides off for visibility. Not everyone is able to do that. I have to reiterate that I had no one in my tent at night because there was no rear access left open and the rest of the tubs were arranged as to leave no space to sleep without having to rearrange everything with a lot of work. Given all that, Minneapolis must have a unique arrangement with the homeless living in the park as I don't see that at other fairs. Talbott Street in Indianapolis has been a long running show in what was once a very bad area and up until about 20 years ago we had to set up on Saturday morning, tear down that evening and put it back up on Sunday morning. They finally raised the fees enough to pay for a crew of off-duty uniformed city policemen to patrol the site and we were able to set up Friday and tear down on Sunday afternoon. The difference there is that was in an urban setting and Loring is a park setting. Talbott has been revitalized and the neighborhood has gone upscale, but the tight security is still there. No one complained when the fees jumped upward to take care of the security costs, especially when the horrendous set-up and tear-down requirements were eliminated.

I do between 14-24 shows a year, and most shows have the parking arrangements figured out, and in particular for those with limited mobilty. Shuttles with either vans or golf carts seems to be a common arrangement. Crosby Gardens in Toledo had the parking way away from the show, still in the grounds, but it was literally through the valley, over the creek, and over the hill to get there. They ran shuttles back and forth for everyone with a common drop off point, and the ones with mobility problems were dropped off at their booth which in most cases was only another half minute or so. That probably wouldn't work at Loring due to the limited manpower resources. Interestingly enough carting things in is easier than walking just because I have something to lean on. I've done Boston Mills where there is a long cart across crushed stone. I was having back problems at the time,and the walk would be painful but pushing the cart was okay.

Everything else was fine except for the lack of sales. The clincher was hearing about the license plate check, which Pat says they didn't do, and that was the thing that tripped my trigger as it were. Take that part out along with my summarization about not coming back, and the review wasn't that negative overall. Anytime your work fails to move, when it does fine elsewhere, you have to realize you are in the wrong market and beating your head against the wall won't yield better results. I have shows I always do well at, and friends of mine swear it would be a cold day in hell before they go there again. If you're plugged into the local aesthetic, you're going to do okay or well. I have to recognize that I'm not, especially after selling two flip bin pieces for the entire show.

I wish others well at the show. If I didn't think it had promise, I wouldn't have come back the second time, but the show is not for everyone, and the 50% turnover does speak to that. The painter across from me had an even worse show than I did, but he's not as vocal as I am. I try to do reports on all the shows I do unless some else does it first and does a good job on writing it up. I write it from my perspective and those around me. If I ruffle a few feathers, that's unfortunate but I'm not going to give the cheery and useless reviews you read in Sunshine Artists. I stopped subscribing to that magazine years ago for good reasons.

Had I had an excellent show, I would certainly come back, and I still would have raised the issues of parking and dealing with the homeless as those are unique problems with the show. Anyone coming to the show would need to be aware of that in advance.

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