Under the Oaks(UTO) is held on an oaked park adjacent to the Vero Beach Art Center.

It is beachside, next to the intercoastal.

Use Juried Art Services to apply, not Zapp.

This show is part of a money-making trio for artists in March in Florida. The trio being Gasparilla, Vero and then Winter Park. The trio can make an artist a lot of money.

It is also a difficult show to get.  It is run by the Vero Art League.  A lot of regulars get in, because they are very good. I seem to get in two out of five years.  When I do, it is a Winner,winner,chicken dinner.

One of the show's bonus is you can park your vehicle behind your booth, or very close depending on trees. The show is shaped in a big circle and the crowd easily visits all booths.

The patrons lean towards being mostly older than 50 years in age, and, they are monied.

They mostly buy traditional here. So birds, beaches and florals sell well here.

It is a three day show with a Thursday setup. You can stake down and there is plenty of room for rear storage.

As you know, I like to give a little history of a show. After 48 years of shows, I have lots of history lessons.

The story I am going to tell, has lots of relavence to this year' show.

Hurricane in March--Say What?

So in 1993 I did the show.

Back then it was a two day show with  Friday setup.


Friday was a beautiful, sunny day, temps in the low eighties.

We kept getting weather reports that a major storm would be coming through sometime Saturday morn.

Most of us thought nothing of it.  We got forecasts like this all the time.

I had my booth corners tethered down dogstakes in the ground.  I had a Newtons Portocanopy at the time.  They are well built, I could usually weather 35 mph winds, no trouble.

So me, and mostly every other artist,ate a great meal and slept tight, dreaming of the big sales to come Saturday.

Around 4:30 am I was awoken by the sounds of heavy winds and pelting rain bursting from the sky.

I got up and drove to the park. A lot of others did the same.

Upon arrival I was confronted by a surreal scenario. Twisted booths littered the grounds. Canopy's were hanging high among tree limbs. Artists bins, and art, were strewn as far as the eye could see.

I only saw one booth standing, because the artist parked his cube truck in the front of the booth.

What happened was a freak hurricane swiftly hit us and many other parts of Florida with 85mph winds.  We were all toast. A well known jeweler had all her glass cases smashed.

My booth was in broken pieces. Back then my Newton booth had four aluminum trusses, ten foot long, that supported my roof.  Two were twisted and rendered obsolete. The other two were slightly bent and I was able to repurpose them.

I had matted and framed photos flung all over the park. I was now a watercolor artist.

As we cleaned up our mess, people kept bringing me some of my photos.

"Hey Nels, found your flamingos over by the water fountain, guess they were thirsty."

Back then I had a humor series with plastic flamingos in famous settings, like on the rail overlooking Niagara Falls.

Well, they cancelled the show Saturday and scheduled us for a one day on Sunday.

We rescued what we could. About four enterprising artists called Newtons in Fort Meyers, then drove over, picked up new booths and returned for the Sunday show.

Local jewelers who lived on the island put on a big party at their house.  They had hotdogs, pizza and beer.  Also they had a great ping pong table. I played mucho games against artist Samuel Rudder, never beat him once, maybe it was the beer and tequila. Nope. Sam was just too good.

Finally, Sunday came.

I stacked up my wire display panels on the ground to form a pyramid. Leaned my frames and mats against them. So did others.

Then I held my breath, hoping for sales.

Crowds turned out in enormous numbers. I think they felt bad for our misfortune.

Anyways, I made over 2K that day, and so did others.

Now I will tell you about this year and why there were some parallels to 1993.

 The weather report for the show said we would have a rainy Thursday setup, a warm,83 degrees, Friday with rain starting that night.  Saturday, a cold front would blow thru with gusting winds 20-25mph and some up to 35mph.  And it was only having a high of 62 degrees.

This was recipe for disaster.

So Thursday setup was sunny,warm and breezy and it never rained on us.


Friday was hot and sunny, sales were just ok.  The serious buyers would be coming on the weekend.

Most of us took the forecast seriously. I double weighted all four corners plus my rear canopy.

I noticed the Tents for Events guy, Joe, showed up at my neighbor who was renting one.  He added extra weights for all corners.

I had great meatloaf at the Southern Social Restaurant and slept fitfully concerned about Saturday.

Heck, I woke up to 45 degree weather. The wind kept slowly increasing by the hour.

Around 10am I heard the clattering of crashing pottery and saw my neighbor across the path scrambling to save collapsing pedestals. She should have known better with a wind like that.

Sorry neighbor, you just learned something very important.

We we're getting sudden big gusts, some over 20mph but not 30-plus.  Thank God!

A lot of canopies were swaying, but they were holding.

The heavy rain was predicted to hit us around noon to 1pm. Radar showed a lot of nasty red and gold colors.

By noon, I had barely done $500. I knew what was coming. So I took all my art off the walls.

Checked all my stakes and zippers. Collapsed the rear canopy and tied down.

I drove out and parked at the restaurant under the bridge to the beach. The Riverside Cafe.

I sat at the bar, eating a great snapper sandwich, with tequila and a beer, and waited for the storm to hit.

Around 1pm the sky got ugly purple to the west.  The front was running like freight train right at us.

People eating on the outside deck got hammered with rain coming sideways. Cups and plates transformed into flying saucers. The rain plunged into the waterway and then flew, bucketsful, at the restaurant building. I was inside, never felt a drop, just kept on eating and drinking, hoping my booth was still standing.

It rained and blew hard for about 30 minutes, then stopped, the front had moved on.

I drove back to the show to see if everybody was ok.

A few people had stuck it out, but most booths were closed--but they were all standing.  No knockdowns that I could see.

I tried to drive in and park behind my booth but the committee had posted people to block our return. The ground was too wet and they did not want us tearing up the ground.

My roommate Phil,the jeweler, rode out the storm in his van rear parked by his booth.  He reopened but closed up by 3pm because there was nobody to sell to.

I returned to the hotel, napped, watched movies and went out to an early dinner followed by an early night snooze.

I dreamed of booming sales to come on Sunday.

Sunday was cheerfully cool and sunny.

I wore a vest most of the day.

Crowds were slow to come. Noontime, after church, they showed. And they started buying.

First, I was worried.  I had only done sales of $200 by noon.  Not good.

Then I popped a $200 framed sale, then another, then a 30x40 metal sale.  It was off to the races.

Suddenly I saw patrons carrying big pieces to their cars.

The photographer down from me sold a large framed canvas photo that was at least four by eight foot.

There were lots of purchases in plastic bags going by.  Most imagery was traditional.

The show closed early at 4pm which I like.  Also it was the weekend of DaylightSavingsTime.

Light later.

I stayed over for the night and celebrated with a great sea bass dinner at Bonefish Grill. Always a winner.

I made it back to NSB early and started cranking for Winter Park which I have already blogged about.

It is great tale, like this one.

Hope you all enjoyed the tale within a tale.10241571893?profile=RESIZE_710x

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  • You might remember I used a Porta Booth (that I bought from Rolly Ray Reel) for ages. I still have the PVC trusses, if you want them. I haven't been able to convince myself to throw them away. I don't remember if you still use that booth, but if you do you are welcome to have them.

  •  Great history, Nels. Thanks for all that background. I do believe Norm and I were there in 93 also. Our work was not traditional, we hardly sold anything, so that was our one and only time at under the oaks. But, I have heard that over the years there are some great parties on Saturday night in the neighborhood for artists. Always wanted to be at one of those.

    Great history, Nels. Thanks for all that background. I do believe Norm and I were there in 93 also. Our work was not traditional, we hardly sold anything, so that was our one and only time out under the oaks. But, I have heard that over the years there are some great parties on Saturday night in the neighborhood for artists. Always wanted to be at one of those.

    it's beginning to sound like you are really getting a handle on what is going to sell at the shows and of course the very important part about waiting down the post. It also sounds like a lot of artist have learned to heed that information by having stronger and better booths these days.


    Thanks for this review. Full of helpful information again and I'll know where to eat the next time I'm in Vero Beach.

  • I love reading about your adventures, boom or bust!

    • Thanks, Cindy, keep on reading

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