Art Fair Insiders

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

Report from an Embedded Reporter in Houston at Bayou City

As Texas seems to becoming the Happy Hunting Grounds for artists fleeing the North and other distressed areas we will be hearing more and more reports on these events.

Veteran artist Ginny Herzog decided to not exhibit in Florida this year but instead to focus on this area. Here is her report from Houston this weekend:

I exhibited at HB this past wkend for the first time. I decided to forego the FL shows this season because of the bad economy there and, instead, do four TX shows in five weeks. I had heard good things about the Houston show and was looking forward to doing it.

The show is held in Memorial Park and artists are set up in the roadway that circles in the park. Most booths are set up on the outer circumference but in some areas the roadway has wider areas for parking and artists are set up on both sides facing each other. There were nearly 300 exhibitors and about 100 were new this year. Set up times were Wednesday, Thursday and early Friday morning. In most areas there was ample room to pull your vehicle in across from your both for unloading and loading. We had a downpour late
Thursday afternoon so I elected to leave my unstocked booth for a dinner break and returned later to stock it. Weather was very warm and humid on Friday and this Minnesotan is not used to dripping in March. The size of the crowd was okay the first day but it seemed that sales were slow for if the buyers were merely scoping out the show. The temps plummeted on Wed. night and it was in the 40's when we opened our booths on Sat. We came dressed in layers and the sun warmed us up into the 60's in the afternoon. Big crowds attended both Sat. and Sunday in the perfect weather.

The show was very well publicized and organized. I thought the quality was mixed but leaned toward quite good. The focus was on the art but they had good food booths and the entertainment was supportive of the art buying atmosphere...not too loud and very tasteful. The artist hospitality and volunteers were some of the best I've encountered and it was very much appreciated.

There is very little parking available near Memorial Park so they shuttle the festival goers in large buses from shopping centers. There is a $10 gate fee which supports art in Houston. No dog allowed. This show is very well supported by the community.

As far as sales go, it was mixed. I spoke to several artists. It seems that most of the 2D artists were selling prints or smaller works from their portfolio, although I did see occasional larger works go by. Some fine crafts did okay and others said sales were down for them. Many who had done FL, said although their sales were down, the show wasn't as bad as the FL shows. Personally, I sold only one of my smallest pieces so did not come near making expenses. However, I had excellent interest in my work and felt my lack of success was probably a combination of being new to the show and the economy. I am still considering trying the fall Bayou show in Oct. and maybe returning to the spring show to give it another chance.

I thought load out went much better than expected and I even had a wonderful volunteer help me take down and load up.

Thanks for all this info, Ginny. I know some more of you were there. Let's hear what you have to say.

Other news out of Houston: photographer John Galbo rolled his truck and a crane had to be brought in to upright it. Neither John, his inventory nor truck received much damage. John drives a large box truck. I look forward to hearing from you, John, about this recent adventure.

I am sitting here and thinking what a mess this had to be not only for John, but for artists nearby and the committee. There is a narrow road that encircles the park that artists use to access their spaces. A truck in the ditch would certainly impede any movement, add to that a crane! I know how crazy some people get during set up and tear down. Doesn't anyone have photos? Nels?

Views: 82

Comment by Nels Johnson on April 1, 2009 at 7:46am
Its coming Connie. I just got in from Houstonlast nite. Did a photo shoot along Miss. Coast and Seaside. Ah yes. About Mr. Galbo's truck. Maybe it was little payback in karma. First off, at registration he got his packet -then took his truck which was back in the line-and he just cut in to the front of the line, severely pissing off a lot of artists. Also typical Galbo move. He didn't like his spot he was assigned so he told the committee where he wanted to bew so he could have his truck nearby--if I tried that they would throw me out--sorry but no tears for Mr. Galbo--he is greedy and selfish-Nels
Comment by Susan Farb Morris on April 1, 2009 at 12:28pm
Thanks for the kind words about the Bayou City Art Festival Memorial Park being well publicized and well-organized. We had record-breaking attendance this year.
Total: 34,857

The Festival only has surpassed 28,000 once before this weekend
-Sunday was the first 14,000+ day in the Festival's history

The weather picture perfect Sat. and Sun. The big Fredrick Prescott Studios elephant sold. Tony Schartz, Kim Enloe and Denis Brady busted their previous one-day sales records. First-time artist Joan Edelstein sold 63 scarves and shawls of the 100 she brought. Infinity LED light table/picture artist sold "into the five figures" and Kimber Fieberger, the "Humpty Dumpty" metal sculptor, sold a $20,000 'jester' fountain the first day, plus one of her giant Humpty Dumpty's over the weekend. Several artists sold out their booths.
Comment by Connie Mettler on April 1, 2009 at 2:01pm
Thanks so much, Susan and Kelly. Congratulations to you for the good results of all your hard work.

Wish I was hearing these stories here in Michigan.


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