Call for Artists, Making Money at Juried Art Fairs, Craft Shows and Festivals
Merrill (Sonny) Dalton died, 78, on December 10 at Rose Arbor Hospice in Kalamazoo, MI, from complications of pneumonia. Sonny was a fixture in the art fair business for 41 years and only stopped participating in art fairs when his deteriorating lung condition, caused by a lifetime of welding, made it too hard for him.
Sonny was one of those people who made people want to attend art fairs. His ingenious outsider constructions of firetrucks, reindeer, people, trains, etc., made people smile. Men would stop in their tracks to examine their intricacy and then they would meet the man behind the sculptures, a funny, humble person who loved what he did and loved being at the shows meeting everyone. He and his wife, Roxie, probably were friends with more people in this business than anyone.
My husband, Norm Darwish, would go to his booth at the shows just to hang out because there was so much entertainment going on. We lived near him and traveled to many shows together. I
remember when we visited him in the hospital outside of Baltimore because he had got e. coli at the Timonium fairgrounds; I remember driving in tandem to Denver and him singing "Rocky Mountain High" over the CB; I remember him nearly selling out at Columbus Winterfair; I remember all the artists singing happy birthday to him when he turned 70 in Indianapolis before the show opened. I remember the throngs around his booth at many shows as people clamored for his pieces. He did his last show in December 2009 at the Great Lakes Art Fair and people were thrilled to see him. He was a celebrity.
His work is in many museums, including the Barber Motorsports Museum in Birmingham, Alabama, that exhibits his largest piece the "Rat Bike" -- a motorcycle tricked out like none you have ever seen that was commissioned for the museum.
Here's a little piece he made for me for my 60th birthday: "Connie directing an art fair"
Sonny, we will really miss you.
He is survived by his wife Roxie and their three daughters Jenny, Amy and Julie and seven grandchildren. Please email me for Roxie's address, or send messages through the Adams Funeral Home, 502 W. Michigan Ave., Paw Paw, MI 49079. Viewing will be at the Adams Funeral Home in Paw Paw, 12/14 from 5-7 pm. Graveside services will be at the Riverside Cemetery on December 15 at 1 pm.
Don't know Sonny? Visit this link, lots of good stories: http://www.artfairinsiders.com/main/search/search?q=Sonny+Dalton
I know many of you knew Sonny. Please share your stories in the comments below.