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NAIA Conference in Indianapolis May 19 & 20 - Open to Artists & Art Fair Directors

Solutions: A Working Conference

May 19 & 20, Indianapolis, Indiana

In conjunction with the Broad Ripple Art Fair


In the past year we have been a part of many conversations concerning what are perceived as serious issues in our industry. While we were planning this conference, we began by discussing the "normal" format with Keynotes and other speakers. As discussion continued, it became apparent that the one advantage that NAIA has over other conferences is that we can bring artists and directors together to work on the issues and come up with possible solutions. So, rather than the same old format where all sit for two days listening, do some talking -- and, ultimately, little is accomplished -- we decided to work on issues.

We have selected three primary topics that were narrowed down after talking with both artists and show directors. Though specific formats are being worked out with facilitators, the general agenda will be as follows:

  • The Cost of Doing Art Shows
  • Booth Images
  • Buy/Sell/Imports/Production

This conference will be the first in which artists and directors will work together to identify and discuss issues in the industry then work toward workable solutions during the conference.

If these are issues of concern to you then join us.

The rest of the story.

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Comment by Bill and Jon Slade on March 25, 2011 at 11:39am

Theresa, I would love to be at this conference,  but being a working artist I can't imagine being in Indianapolis in May--nor the individual cost.  So a LIVE-CHAT or internet hookup would be great. Connie may be able to help as I think we had such a group call.

  Wendy Rosen just posted a blog on chinese art glass rip-offs--Viz art glass- antitrust suits are being filed etc. Painters are also being subject to this disgrace. I am glad to see you address this topic--but action is needed NOW.

  You said"thus far no solution has been put forth" in regards to buy-sell,and other dishonest procedures that any industry experiences. A great solution was put forth -NAIA published this paper- BOOTH SLIDES that don't lie- as Lois said "just show me what I am going to see at the show"-- takes care of buy-sell and imports-- ONLY IF THE VIEWING COMMITTEE HAS THE TOOLS TO DO A PROPER JOB-education and the ability to support the decision-

  These are very important topics and I hope that we see some educated proper actions taken by the art fair directors to protect our business very soon. The enemy has invaded our shores--galleries and art fairs need to just say NO.  Thanks for the job you all do- but we need some real solutions, to maintain the great reputations that fairs and artists share alike.

Comment by Connie Mettler on March 22, 2011 at 5:25pm

It is quite likely that it doesn't represent you, Munks. Geez, what a job that would be!

What I think its greatest accomplishment is is that all the shows in the country are quite "independent" of one another...just like those they serve, the artists. But by holding the Director's Conferences and bringing the organizers together we got to visit the other shows (it is always held in conjunction with an art fair) and see how the other folks did it. Presentations were given on topics like:

--how to put together a patron program

--what we do for marketing

--how to attract the people who will buy art

and in general, how to make the show better for the presenting organization and the artists. Sharing of ideas and materials is a big part of these conferences.

Comment by Connie Mettler on March 21, 2011 at 9:04pm

The Westaf people started attending the NAIA director's conferences several years before Zapp was live. They did several presentations of their software and asked for feedback. There were ten or twelve art fairs that then partnered with Zapp to bring the software to the marketplace, including Cherry Creek.

There were discussions over whether or not the NAIA would "endorse" the system and under Bannister Pope and Larry Oliverson it was decided that that was not the purpose of the organization. So NAIA declined.

Comment by Larry Berman on March 21, 2011 at 8:58pm
There's missing information there. Columbus was one of the original owners of ZAPP as was Stephen King (maybe Celebrate Fairfax) before he became the director of Des Moines. And from what I understand, the previous director of Cherry Creek approached Westaf about the project.

In 2000, I created a test web site where artists could jury other artists and I received an e-mail from the then Cherry Creek director telling me that they were working on a similar project. That was about four years before ZAPP went live.

Larry Oliverson represented NAIA and was on the committee that hammered out ZAPP.

Larry Berman
Comment by Teresa Saborsky on March 21, 2011 at 8:15pm

I apologize if that was written as though I was addressing just Dann. I didn't intend for the new paragraph to start after I wrote his name and comma. After the first paragraph I was addressing all who read and clarifying some apparent misconceptions that Munks and others may have about NAIA.

Teresa Saborsky, NAIA Board of Directors, Chair.

Comment by Teresa Saborsky on March 21, 2011 at 8:00pm


Thank you for your clarification of NAIA, what it is, and what it tries to do. We really appreciate such support.

NAIA is not a union. A union represents workers in the workplace and negotiates better working conditions for their members. They tend to focus on how employees are treated at work and the relationship betwee employer and employee. NAIA in no way considers its members employees nor does it consider art shows and their producers as employers.

NAIA is a professional association (or trade organization or business league -- any of these work). Professional or trade associations tend to focus on developing the professions within which they operate (art show artists/art shows) and are generally interested in career development and personal growth. NAIA is a 501 (c) (6) organization which must focus on the advancement of the conditions of a particular trade -- in our case art shows.

Connie correctly pointed out that the subjects of our upcoming conference were determined by reading many blogs, forums, and having discussions with many artists at art shows. We've heard and read a lot of fears, concerns, and confusion expressed by both artists and show directors. We decided to try to do something about it rather than just complain. We are inviting all artists and show directors, not just NAIA members , to be a part of this dialogue in which we will work together to identify the real issues and come up with possible solutions, as well as means of implementation. We won't have Keynote speakers or others who simply talk to the audience. This is a working conference in which the issues are the keynote. We are going to spend two days working as principles in the art show industry toward advancements in our trade as well as the growth and development of our businesses.

If anyone has an interest in working toward these goals, you are most welcome to join us at the conference. If you can't make the conference and you would like to be a part of it, I would welcome questions or issues related to the topics we are addressing and they will be introduced into the discussion. You may write me at

Comment by Dann Jackson on March 21, 2011 at 4:48pm


I think we're approaching this discussion from two totally different perspectives. I'm coming from the show production end. You're coming from the producing artist perspective. I have an MFA, got weary of unsold paintings piled in the attic, under the bed, etc. Show business I have always loved. I am not aware of any requirements from NAIA wanting any artist to standardize their work in any way. Who on earth would put up with that? Nobody. The professional standards I was referring to was completely on the show side, just in making life easier for the exhibitors. I definitely run in the other direction when I encounter an artist guild. They never work. That's not what NAIA is. I have personally known many active members of the organization and they are top-drawer professionals and I personally have never encountered any of the objections you raise. I just wonder if you really know what the organization is about. I know exhibitors bristle at the idea of Zapplication. But, it works on a very practical level. I've heard artists arguments that Zapp is a conspiracy of the highest order, designed to only allow certain artists to be accepted to shows. What hogwash! Zapp has simplified the process for both artist AND festivals and each festival still runs their show however they see fit. Using Zapp I can accomplish by myself what it used to take 2 or 3 individuals to do. And who conceived of the idea of something like Zapp? NAIA. 

Comment by Dann Jackson on March 21, 2011 at 12:56pm

As for me, I'd suggest Shakespeare...

         "Me thinks you doth protest too much"

Where did the idea of NAIA being a union come from? Have I missed something? I've been in this "industry" for so long that most artists I started out with have passed on. In the early days of burgeoning arts festivals, did we really know what we were doing? Hell no. We were winging it! Flying by the seat of our pants basically. Back then, every festival made up their own rules and requirements with no thought whatsoever of how that affected the very artists we wanted to attract. When the NAIA came along, they actually educated US the festival community to their basic needs and the importance of some degree of uniformity to all the myriad of requirements. We happened to require the red dot on the slide on the upper right. Next festival wanted the dot on the lower left. We did juyring one way and the next festival did it another way. It was a revelation to learn that we were all making life very difficult for the artists. For this alone, I thank NAIA. For the first time professional exhibitors were getting a little organized and letting us know that this is a symbiotic relationship. We each needed the other and we needed to seriously consider each other's needs. As a festival, we could dictate our needs. The artist could not. I do not know of any mature profession in America that does not have an organization of some sort that promotes the very ideals and standards of that profession. I have seen nothing but professionalism and thoughtful insights from NAIA over the years . 

Comment by Connie Mettler on March 20, 2011 at 9:05pm

I am scuttling to my library for a good response, will it be Aldous Huxley, Voltaire or Tom Wolfe?

And, speaking for yourself, good job.

Comment by Connie Mettler on March 19, 2011 at 6:57pm

Sorry, there isn't, Munks. What are your objections?

If you look at the conference's agenda stated above, these are issues that have been discussed on this site many times. A dialogue seems useful to me.

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