Before I do any reviews about the shows I went to this weekend, I had to talk about this.
Over the past several years, there have been discussions here about buy/sell, franchises and mass production works all showing up at art festivals. After finding out that the stone ducks were made of parts supplied from China, one member was threatened by a lawyer. I guess she couldn't be sued for libel because if it is true, it may not be nice but it isn't libelous. (that must be a word, spellcheck didn't underline it).
It was discouraging last year to see the ducks at Art at the Glen, one of the better shows in the Chicagoland area. I mentioned them last year when discussing the show. Then, I had to see them again yesterday at the Promenade of Art in Arlington Hts, IL. Today I went to The Art Center's Festival of Fine Craft, one of my favorite shows of all and there they were again.
Under normal circumstances, this can happen. The recycled yard art people were at the Festival of Fine Craft and Evanston's Fountain Square on the same weekend last year but that was a little different. What was the difference? They are run by two different promoters.
Both the shows I attended this weekend were produced by the same promoter. I realize that there are different standards for different shows, ie, bead stringers are allowed at some shows but at others the jeweler must make their own beads, but it is fairly standard that the work that is shown was made by the person in the booth and not a shop full of elves pulling parts out of boxes from China and putting them together. Maybe the stone birds are franchised, I didn't pay attention to the names on the booths at either show because I like to pretend I didn't see them. If they were the same family, there has been discussion on another website about the allowability of a creative 'team' splitting up and doing two shows the same weekend. That is also generally frowned upon. If two people made the items, they are both supposed to be at the same show unless the show accepts a medical excuse if one becomes sick. (and not all will do that). But to have the same promoter accepting the exact same 'art' at two festivals at the same time, to put it semi-bluntly smells.
It seriously irritates me that the art festival playing field is so heavily tilted toward the promoter. I know there are a lot of expenses, time and aggravation that goes into a festival but the bottom line is that a promoter can find a way to make money on a festival whereas an artist cannot and to ask artists to live up to certain requirements and then not follow them as the promoter, is kind of shoddy in my opinion. In this short summer season, about the only good thing that has happened is the price of gas has not sky-rocketed as feared. So far there has been a repeat of last summer's hot temperatures and/or rain. The economy is still tough and there have not been a lot of rave reports from artists. More and more of my favorite artists are not able to make a sustainable living and are not doing shows.
How could it get worse? The watch people could be running around buying double booths at art shows. Oh wait, they were in Salt Lake City, Utah AND Evanston, Il this weekend. I guess it can get worse.