Art Fair Insiders

Call for Artists, Making Money at Juried Art Fairs, Craft Shows and Festivals

This entry is from my friend Lynn Fisher who does wonderful porcelain and stoneware work. I'm copying this to my blog (with her permission) because I think it's important that we bring to light how some shows deal with a tragedy in an artist's life. Luckily, it's not all shows...

"I'd closed my home and studio up in mid-January and was gone for the next five-and-a-half months, working and doing fairs in Florida, and didn't get home until last Saturday. My brother was going to open the place up, turn on the water, etc., and discovered a fire just starting in the studio when he walked in the door. He turned off the gas, which stopped the fire, called 911, and then called me while I was still a couple hours from home. Apparently a tiny leak had formed in the furnace gas line which was near an outlet; the gas shot right into the outlet, feeding it a tiny but steady stream of gas that wasn't enough to blow the place up but was still enough to create lots of creosote. Some wood nearby had actually started to burn when he opened the door.

It might have started days ago, possibly even two weeks ago when there was an electrical storm here and two huge poplars were completely split open after being struck by lightening. That may have caused a short or spark in that particular outlet that may have hit the flexible metal gas line nearby. It all sounds stupid, especially since the furnace man had installed the gas line so close to the outlet. They were both hidden behind the furnace; if I'd known about it I would have had it changed immediately.

The photos don't do the damage justice, since most of the soot or creosote rose in the heat, covering the ceiling and 2/3s of the upper walls. Surprisingly, it didn't stick to certain surfaces -bisqued molds, for example, or some of the fabrics. The windows are still black in these photos, although moths and flies have left some delicate patterns of light where they brushed against the glass. I've since wiped some of the windows to let in more light but I'm not sure which is worse, the dark studio or or the light one that shows just how awful the place is. It's like a little den of horrors, a nightmare.

Once the studio is cleared out it will be gutted and rebuilt, but it will be several weeks before I can move back in. I won't get my hopes up for anytime earlier than mid-July.

Arg. What a thing to come home to! At least it isn't the total loss that it is for all those people who've been wiped out in floods or tornadoes. I feel really fortunate that it isn't worse!

So here it is, Bonnie, ready for you to share however you like. I think it might be nice to show what Old Town and its cavalier attitude is like to those of us artists who are suddenly faced with a situation completely out of their control. They are truly compassionate, sticking by their rules, and then making it even worse by telling me I don't need to apply again next year."


This was the show's response...

Hi Lynn:  Thanks for the email and photos.  We're going to have to be tough here, despite your obvious trouble, as it is less than two weeks until the show and we'll have to scramble to find a replacement for you.  Further, it is our clearly-stated policy that late cancellations do not receive a refund and the artist may not apply to the next year's show.  We must stick to the policy here.  I'm sorry for all you're going through.  We'll miss having you and wish you all the best.


Joan Goldstein

Exhibitors Committee Co-Chair

Views: 224


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Comment by Joy Hafford on June 21, 2011 at 8:46pm

Wow. Unbelievable. Reminds me of 30 yrs. ago when my husband and I managed an old apt.blgd. in Denver's Capital Hill area and one of the tenants in the building overdosed and died in his bathtub. The owner wouldn't return the security deposit to his wife because "he didn't give a 30 day written notice". Where is the humanity? Right now there are wildfires raging in ARizona and people have lost homes and property.I can't imagine that my Arts & Crafts Guild would respond in this manner.In fact,I would bring it to the Board and ask that we give the artist a free space at the next festival to help our neighbor. They forget that the artists are the heart of the show. Without the artist, there is no festival. How the show promoters respond in a situation like this is a reflection on them. Best wishes to you. I know you will get back on your feet and have great shows in your future.


Comment by Joy Hafford on June 21, 2011 at 5:06pm
Wow. Unbelievable. Reminds me of 30 years ago when my husband and I managed an old apartment building in the Capital Hill area of Denver and one of the tenants overdosed and died in the bathtub. The building owner would not return the security deposit to his wife because "he failed to give a 30-day written notice". Some people just lose their humanity when they can't make an exception to the rules under such extenuating circumstances. Right now we have devasting wildfires burning in Arizona and people are losing their homes and property. I can't imagine that my Arts & Crafts Guild would respond in this manner if one of our vendors for the 4th of July show was to have to cancel because of destruction to their studio. In fact, I would bring it before the Board asking that they provide a free booth for this person for a future festival to help our neighbor in their time of loss! Event planners need to recognize that without the artists there would be no festivals; you and others like you are the heart of the show, and how they respond to you in this situation is a reflection on them. Best wishes to you. I know that you will recover from this loss and do better than ever in the months ahead.
Comment by Marti McGinnis on June 15, 2011 at 12:05pm
Isn't this situation what "Waiting Lists" are for?
Comment by Meredith Kuntzsch on June 14, 2011 at 11:20am

Wow, that is really incredible. Thank God the world is filled with more compassionate people than not. I would have to say it's good that Joan came back with the email and solution as seen in the previous post. But really, it's probably very easy finding a waitlist artist, isn't it? Am I wrong? I know artists who go to the shows and wait around just in case a booth opens up at the last minute.


Keep the faith, Lynn. I know what it's like to lose everything. I just did in Columbus. I'll be thinking of you and praying for your financial, artistic and emotional recovery.

Comment by MICHAEL ALAN STIPEK on June 6, 2011 at 12:05pm

Thank you, Joan and OTAF for being willing to make a compassionate alteration to a policy which at times has protected the festival (no gaps with no-show booths; artists who grossly misrepresent their juried work; artists reps instead of the artists themselves, etc.)

All rules can be tweaked a bit to cover those circumstances, such as this one, in which all parties join together in a win-win situation.  And it shows how effective artists can be - thanks so much to Connie and the AFI members! - when we come together to work for those winning solutions.

Comment by Anne Nelson on June 3, 2011 at 3:55pm
In this age of impersonal behaviors, it's nice to know that sometimes we still can alter an outcome with simple letters.
Comment by cappi phillips on June 3, 2011 at 2:00pm
A tragic tale with a better ending!  Thank you Connie and Bonnie for sharing and showing that voices still do matter.  I'd hate to think Old Town volunteers would so inconvenienced that "as it is less than two weeks until the show and we'll have to scramble to find a replacement for you".
Comment by Dann Jackson on June 3, 2011 at 12:51pm
Every show has to establish a refund policy and work hard at being consistent with it. BUT, there's also such a thing as understanding and empathy. A 'compassionate' refund would be in order in this case in my opinion. If an exhibitor looses his/her house to fire or a parent passes away the week of the show they should receive a full refund. It's not like Old Town doesn't have an extensive wait list to draw on, I'm sure they filled Lynn's space in 10 minutes or less!
Comment by jerry maschinot on June 3, 2011 at 11:16am
I to will write Ms. Goldstein.  It is hard to conceive of Old Town not being able to fill spaces even up to the last day.  I was waiting till yesterday to see if I could get into Cincinnati Summerfair for craps sake!  I have had health issues prompting me to cancel shows well after deadlines and have received compassionate and fair treatment at Kentuck in Alabama and Panoply, also in Alabama.  Of course we all understand the intention of such policies but would hope that all shows demonstrate their first commitment is to the artists who make the shows possible and that judgments can be made by any show director who has the compassion for the artist to do so.
Comment by Leslie Christopher Bookout on June 2, 2011 at 10:53pm
Looks like the tight-knit community we have here may be more effective than the NAIA.

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