Round the Fountain, Lafayette, IN 5-27-2017

This is a mid size and very selective one day show in downtown Lafayette arranged around the courthouse. I've yet to see the fountain, but haven't gone looking for it. This year was a bit more problematic due to construction, and the booths were in different locations. For some that was a blessing as a bunch of spots required hauling stuff up a long set of steps. Those spots were eliminated this year.

I was located around the corner from last year's location. Two streets were able to be set up on Friday night after 6:00 PM, and two streets weren't closed until Saturday morning. I sent an email asking permission to set up on Friday night but the committee never answered. As it turned out, that wouldn't have worked as the booths were in the street and not on the sidewalk as they were the previous year. One artist I know had major heart surgery early this year and was assigned the Saturday morning set up, start at 6:00 AM and the show starts at 9:00. A little fast considering he has a Trimline and a lot of work to hang. He sent an email saying he would have to cancel if he couldn't set up on Friday evening. Somehow they found him a new spot on Thursday.

I'm dealing with some health issues where I get tired quickly and have little energy. I was able to get my daughter's family to come in and help me set up. I used an EZ-Up, instead of a Trimline, and didn't use the propanel extensions keeping the set up minimalist. We got there at 6:00 and were open and ready by 9:00.

This was going to be an interesting experiment for me with some new work and somewhat different media. I applied in two media, photography and graphics. The graphics work is mostly B&W and all have poetry or text in a diptych format. So I get rejected in photo and accepted in graphics. Since the jury booth shot had both styles in it, I felt that that displaying the new work prominently and some of the regular photo work was legit. Nothing was said.

So the booth has new work in it, and maybe a third or fourth of what is hanging are larger pieces of my regular work. I had to be very selective and there wasn't nearly as much room as I usually have. So what sold? One lousy stinking 8.5x11 flip bin piece of the new work. Lots of good comments about the poetry pieces, but what sold was my regular work and every bit of it came out of the flip bin with one exception. Sales figures were down by $20 from last year, but last year included several framed pieces and canvas prints where the expenses were much higher, so the profit was several hundred higher.

I commented about the high number of flip bin pieces selling to one of the organizers and they said that was a recurring theme they had heard from the other artists, as well as comments I heard directly from some other artists.

The crowd was much different this year from the last. Last year I thought I was back in grad school with the way I was getting questions about the meaning of my work, what the influences were, and questions about aesthetics. I had a fair number of Purdue faculty coming through last year and the questioning I had reflected that. I didn't see those folks this year. There were a lot of younger people this year. I did get a nice sale to a young lady, probably in her very early twenties. She really enjoyed some older work I had up, a series of GI Joe and Barbie B&W photos I did back in 1991 that is political and social satire humor with a caption that is just as important as the image. These are letter size pieces in inexpensive plastic frames, same price as the flip bin pieces. She couldn't make her mind up about which ones to get, and she asked if I would discount the entire lot if she got all of them. I gave a 50% discount, and she took all 12 :-)

Tear down started at 4:30, no problem getting vehicles in as common sense prevailed, and with the extra help from my daughter and son-in-law, we were packed up and pulling out by 6:30. I'll apply again next year.

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  • All week long it has been raining and storming, including Friday night, and starting again on Sunday. Honestly, I think a lot of people had to use the one good day on Saturday to accomplish things they hadn't done all week. The forecast was also bad for Saturday until just a day or 2 before, so maybe a lot of people decided not to risk it? Maybe the construction at the site deterred people?
  • Robert, what do you think accounted for the different type of shoppers this year?   It seems strange that the good customers from last year didn't come back.

  • I had the same experience. Last year I sold like a madman! I averaged a sale every 10 minutes. This year, not so much. My sales this year were down by over $2K, but I still did over $3K so all-in-all still a good show.
    This seemed to be the prevailing theme for everyone this year. I didn't talk to a single artist who said this year sales were their best. Everyone seem to be buying smaller price point items, however all the artist still seem content in the end. So to sum, up solid show, great potential.
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