Toughing things out in Telluride.....

Well sports fans, did the Telluride Festival of the Arts this past weekend ( While I should have done my due diligence to find out the show was not in Telluride, but the Mountain Village of Telluride, it was produced by the Cherry Creek folks which was enough for me to attend. The village is up about a mile from town, accessible by gondola, and received zero support from the townies (just so happens the town is where most stay during the Summer). It is an effort to bring folks up to the village, an area frought with ski condos and business' hanging on for dear life. The draw is a food and wine tasting on Saturday, a featured artist (Joan Osborne?) on Friday, and a very painful Sunday (read no people).I did learn how to buffalo the wine people to fill the damn glass rather than a squirt (played the starving artist card, need a buzz not a taste). I have to say, I was never so happily spoiled at a show. The Cherry Creek crowd has this down, assistance with the set up, lunch every day,free tickets to the food and wine party. They advertised the bejesus out of the event, a good attempt at making this a "destination" for the Summer crowd, but the buying crowd just never showed. We made our expenses ($2500) which paid for 5 days in some of the most scenic mountains I have ever seen. Managed to squeeze in some fun four wheeling over Imogene pass at 13,200 feet and pretended I could shoot landscapes. Guess a paid for working vacation ain't so bad after all. One of the pleasant things about a slow show is actually spending some decent time talking shop with others. We all are down at least 50% from previous years, but good to see a few tweaking and tuning their approach rather than bitching and moaning. I have a tendency to respect the business and marketing approach of photographers rather than talent or the equipment they use (is there anything more boring and irrelevant than the film vs. digital arguements?) Met one fella who left an impression on me, not for his photography skills, more for his ability to take a subject and turn it into something unique. Todd Van Fleet ( has taken a hot commodity (cruiser bikes) and turned into a marketing marvel. Kinda klitchy, but people are jumping all over it and he was one of the only artists having stuff walk out his booth. The kid does this full time, does portrait work to supplement the show income, has received commissions from Fat Tire beer, John Deere and others. Even an old fart like me came away impressed. Bottom line for the show, if you hike, bike, fish, four wheel, shop or just like to hang in a town where everyone seems to have money and a young blonde on their arm, don't mind playing second fiddle to the wine thing, and don't mind being spoiled to death, a fine place to spend a summer weekend. Just not one of those where you put money in the bank.
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  • We did this show in 2004- Howard Alan Events. Also held in conjunction with the wine tent. We were not spoiled like Mark mentioned above, which certainly would have made it more pleasant. I know a few, very few artists that did sell something. But for the most part it was mostly artist's walking around very few, if any, people buying or even looking at artwork. It is a beautiful place if you live nearby. Possibly Cherry Creek will make a go of it but it seems like the same old story. The town didn't support it then either.
  • The group the Mountain Village retained to help organize and promote the event is well known for their expertise, here they went above and beyond to help us. Nothing would make them happier than for all the artists to do well, and they are aware of just how difficult things are right now. It's a little thing to some, to work with someone that understands the show life from the artist's perspective.It's kinda like getting a hug when you need it the most.
    Beyond that, their effort to bring people in is textbook marketing. Now, the economy needs to heal (this will be years) and the reputation needs to take hold. I'm sure they are following up to make sure there are favorable reports on the event.
    And you are dead on.This is one of those shows to do for just being there.
  • I'm an East Coast gal, but sounds like a nice event. And for them to really advertise it like heck, as you mentioned, makes me think that once the economy bounces back that the sales will come back. From your review I am most impressed by how they take care of all people - in a time where customer service is a "myth" with big box stores/companies - that the going "above and beyond" will go along way. Who knows, perhaps next year more will be buying remember their experience was so nice this year. I think what will make or break the show is if the shops remain. If they can find ways to stay afloat or add to the advertising efforts of the show - listing nearby events and the shops proximity to the event - may help or something along that line. I guess that is another subject though. Anyway, having a "paid vacation" is nothing to snuff at - sounds like it is a gorgeous place to visit.
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