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Spring Arts Festival, Gainesville,FL--Weather was great but sales sucked royal canal water, but there is a great Tequila Report

This was last weekend.
I have always had an endearing relationship with this show. Back in the late 70's when I started doing shows--this was one of my first ones.
I lived in Gainesville and got to know many talented artists and crafters who were doing quite well on the circuit. They taught me a lot of the fundamentals on how to be a successful artist outdoors.
Most of those artists are long gone, you could say I am carrying on the tradition of them.
In the 80's-
90's you would see the wives of just-graduated doctors and lawyers shopping the show to decorate their offices. This is University of Florida Gators country.
It was not uncommon to pick up a $2K sale from one of the wives if they dug your style.
I always made out well here, a $3-$4K show was the norm and then a weekend later we would go down the road (about 50 miles) to Cedar Key and do it all over again.
Those days are done gone, just memories. No more shopping wives, I think they hit IKEA, I know they do not hit us.
Which brings us to the present.
Kind of.
Last year bad weather made the show cancel on Saturday and open for one day on Sunday.
I did $1500 for the day, it was just OK.
So this year we had perfect weather for the weekend. Me, and others, figured we nail down some decent sales.
Not. Never came close to happening.
Decent crowds both days. Trouble was most just walked down the middle of the street. Few came in to booths and look. Very few bought, and when they did, it was little items.
Each day from my vantage, I saw about six or seven large purchases go by. That was all.
For me, on Saturday I sold one framed piece for $135 and the rest were small prints from the bins. Did about $500. Pretty putrid.
Sunday I sold a $30 print and one lucky lady bought my big heron image for $500. I sat there the rest of the day and did zero dollars more.
I was not alone. Everybody I talked to said, "WTF!".
I had a great spot, work on both outside walls, had 15 new images up, nobody cared.
I will have to give serious thought to continue doing this show.
My expenses, booth included, came to about $650. So I grossed a little over $350, pretty slim.
But there is a ray of sunshine for you intrepid readers who have followed me this far.

Ta Ta! A Tequila Report.
Can't sell, might as well eat and drink.
Found some nifty new places plus as always had great reruns at Lillian's a Music Store.
First Lillian's.
Right down the street from the show right next to Harrys, a Louisiana flavored restaurant.
Lillian's is no longer a music store. Has not been one for years. But you can drink quite cheaply here surrounded by real local characters.
The bartender here commands center stage. He can tell a joke, do a magic trick and make a great drink all at once. It is never dull at Lillian's and they make the best Jack Daniels Manhattens that I ever had. I have been drinking here for more than 20 years and hope to continue for another 20.
OK now two new places.
Friday nite I caught up with my old bud Ken Jensen who is an old Gator and also one hell of a ceramicist with a musical vibe.
We finished setting up our booths around 8pm and decided to go eat down from the show. There are an easy dozen restaurants to choose from. Trouble was it was prime witching hour. They all were filled to the gills with hour long waits--and no seats available at the bar.
We first tried The Top, no luck, almost two hour wait. Next, we tried Harrys, same thing.
I had noticed a Bourbon flavored bistro just before Harrys. I saw open seats at the bar. I I dragged Ken in with me. I am no fool, give me a seat at the bar anytime. You can drink and eat quite well and you will have the undivided attention of a bartender rather than a waitress who has four other tables besides yours.
Within a half hour of getting in there, the place filled up. I guess everybody was following Ken and Nels. Those guys must know something.
I ordered a Makers Mark Manhatten on the rocks. It came in a square shaped rocks glass with one giant ice cube in it with a decent pour and was topped with those yummy dark cherries for garnish. And only seven bucks. I was hooked. I had bourbon soaked wings that were baked with two delicious dipping sauces, cost me nine bucks, they were worth it.
The place has a reasonably priced menu with most items well under $17. Nice fish options and a yummy looking meatloaf.
Oh, the name of the place--the Oak Barrel, an American Kitchen,
I would go there again.
Saturday nite I was on my own.
I high-tailed it out of my booth promptly at 5pm and scampered down the street to The Top, a restaurant. Got the last seat at the bar.
Ordered a Makers Manhatten chilled up. It came expertly chilled in a large martini glass with a really nice large pour, for nine bucks. I sucked on that baby for 30 minutes while watching the basketball final four.
This place has great meat and vegan options. Most entrees are under $15, that is why this place is always packed.
I ordered a Mediterranean pasta dish for $14 with a side of blackened tuna for $7 more, and had them add fresh chopped jalapeño peppers, for no extra charge. The meal was awesome.
They have an awesome menu from pizza to entrees with great sandwiches and creative burgers.
I would go back to this place in a heartbeat.
Hope you enjoyed the Tequila Report.
Later,Gators.
On to Tarpon Springs this weekend , at least I get to sleep in my own bed.

Views: 745

Comment by Connie Mettler on April 6, 2017 at 4:58pm

I'm so hungry and thirsty and it is too early in the day to celebrate your report. Maker's Mark sounds good to me about now but yoga class is calling my name.

We did this show a couple of times. Love the town, the street, the ease for the traffic, everyone in a line (still like that?) There was some good prize money. The first time we went Norm got a big prize, so of course we returned the following year - where else can a person earn money in April? I love college towns. What could have happened to the doctor's wives? Right, they are the doctors now. 

I remember really good artists at the show, because again, where can you pick up some $$ in April? This show has a pretty good pick of the litter because of that. I look forward to seeing your new work. Where will that be? E. Lansing? Lafayette? Sylvania? Have you tried Winona Lake? It will be about that time when things are starting to heat up in this neighborhood for the shows.

Don't get me started on Tarpon Springs. Again, good prize money and some good food -- lucky if you can sleep in your own bed. Not worth the trip from Michigan.

Comment by Barrie Lynn Bryant on April 6, 2017 at 5:49pm

I miss Ken Jensen. I miss Gainesville. Heck, I miss Tarpon Springs! WOOHOO!

Comment by Nels Johnson on April 6, 2017 at 6:41pm
Connie here is my summer lineup
June
Kalamazoo, Columbus and Des Moines
July
Boston Mills,Krasl and Cadillac, done with Ann Arbor
August
Work in progress, same with Sept.
Comment by Nels Johnson on April 6, 2017 at 6:41pm
Everybody still in a line, yum it is time for some Makers
Comment by Barrie Lynn Bryant on April 6, 2017 at 10:58pm

And I dearly miss Lennie Kesl in Gainesville. R.I.P. Lennie.

Comment by Kendra Bennett on April 6, 2017 at 11:33pm

I know lots of artists had a bad show. I don't think the lady next to me sold anything the entire weekend. However I had a great show. So I have no complaints about Gainesville. This was my 1st year there we will see how next year is.

Comment by Mark Zirinsky on April 7, 2017 at 9:22am

Hi Nels, I am new to the Ann Arbor show this year, any thoughts on good/bad places to be there?

Comment by Nels Johnson on April 8, 2017 at 1:19pm
Which AA show, Mark?
Comment by Mark Zirinsky on April 8, 2017 at 3:05pm

Hi Nels, its the ann arbor state street art fair, july 20

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