Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Art Fair Neighbors

I'm very lucky! Most of my neighbors at art fairs have been wonderful people and some have even turned into long time friends. Some are invisible, they just keep to themselves so you go away not knowing them any better at the end of the show than you did at the beginning. Some are just grumpy and you quickly learn to stay away from them. Others you just click with and end up with a good friend. That's what happened in Des Moines.

I was set up next to Paul Zerjay this past weekend, a wonderful woodturner from the St. Louis area. As I told him, he's now set the bar high for my upcoming neighbors because he was a real peach! The show was much more fun with him next door as well as his neighbors on the other side, John & Christine Strobel. Good times with good neighbors. It's what makes art fairs less like work!

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Dad and my business...

There's no one more supportive of his daughter and her business than my Dad, Tom. Since the very beginning he has been there whenever I needed something whether it was moral support or to build something I needed.

My first display was a case that I bought from a friend, the second one Dad built. Cases that were interesting and would fit in my MGB! Then I decided I needed a small roof so Dad designed that as well. It broke down small and compactly, perfect for shows in a tiny car.

Since then he's been designing and building all kind of things for my studio as well, including my workbenches. I need a new rack for something, I call Dad. Of course then I end up with something much nicer than expected!

But he could be embarrassing as well. In my early days I showed my work in the Art Sales tent at the Grand Rapids Festival of the Arts every June. The tent was one block from my Dad's office so he delighted in standing in my booth calling all his friends over to "buy some of my daughter's jewelry". Since he knew EVERYONE, this was totally mortifying to his daughter. It took a few years before I embraced what he was doing. Now I just laugh and enjoy it!

One of the many father-daughter traditions has been that he always helps me set up my booth at the Reeds Lake Art Fair here in Grand Rapids. He's now 83 and still meets me there before 6 am to help set up and then we go have breakfast.

But that's just the beginning of his "involvement" at that show. All day long yesterday people asked me if I was related to Tom! Young, old and in between, a whole lot of people know my Dad. So with a big smile, I proudly answer yes, he's my Dad!

Love you Dad!!!

Friday, June 17, 2011

Reeds Lake Art Fair

It's like going back to 1976 and my first art fair. Tomorrow is the Reeds Lake Art Festival. Back then it was the Reeds Lake Clothesline Art Fair and you had to haul everything down the steps into John Collins Park on Reeds Lake. This was back long before canopies and fancy displays. This was a table with a jewelry display case sitting on it. That was the good news since at the end you had to haul everything back UP the stairs.

I ran the show for a couple of years back in the early 80's. I was handed a piece of paper with who to call for the donuts and coffee and told to put on a show. Needless to say, I learned a lot that first year! Dick wrote a program for me and I got everything computerized which was very new back then. I learned about working with a city bureaucracy and the importance of being patient. Plus a couple of artists screamed at me when they didn't get in, not knowing that they would be facing me at the next show we did together (that was kind of fun).

All in all, very good memories.

Now the show is held in the streets above the park which is so much better. I went back last year after many years of not doing it and had a great time. So easy to do and I saw tons of people I hadn't seen in years, since it's my hometown. Plus it's just a warm fuzzy since it was my very first art fair 35 years ago. Please let it be sunny!

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Old Town Art Fair & Compassion

This entry is from my friend Lynn Fisher who does wonderful porcelain and stoneware work. I'm copying this to my blog (with her permission) because I think it's important that we bring to light how some shows deal with a tragedy in an artist's life. Luckily, it's not all shows...

"I'd closed my home and studio up in mid-January and was gone for the next five-and-a-half months, working and doing fairs in Florida, and didn't get home until last Saturday. My brother was going to open the place up, turn on the water, etc., and discovered a fire just starting in the studio when he walked in the door. He turned off the gas, which stopped the fire, called 911, and then called me while I was still a couple hours from home. Apparently a tiny leak had formed in the furnace gas line which was near an outlet; the gas shot right into the outlet, feeding it a tiny but steady stream of gas that wasn't enough to blow the place up but was still enough to create lots of creosote. Some wood nearby had actually started to burn when he opened the door.

It might have started days ago, possibly even two weeks ago when there was an electrical storm here and two huge poplars were completely split open after being struck by lightening. That may have caused a short or spark in that particular outlet that may have hit the flexible metal gas line nearby. It all sounds stupid, especially since the furnace man had installed the gas line so close to the outlet. They were both hidden behind the furnace; if I'd known about it I would have had it changed immediately.

The photos don't do the damage justice, since most of the soot or creosote rose in the heat, covering the ceiling and 2/3s of the upper walls. Surprisingly, it didn't stick to certain surfaces -bisqued molds, for example, or some of the fabrics. The windows are still black in these photos, although moths and flies have left some delicate patterns of light where they brushed against the glass. I've since wiped some of the windows to let in more light but I'm not sure which is worse, the dark studio or or the light one that shows just how awful the place is. It's like a little den of horrors, a nightmare.

Once the studio is cleared out it will be gutted and rebuilt, but it will be several weeks before I can move back in. I won't get my hopes up for anytime earlier than mid-July.

Arg. What a thing to come home to! At least it isn't the total loss that it is for all those people who've been wiped out in floods or tornadoes. I feel really fortunate that it isn't worse!

So here it is, Bonnie, ready for you to share however you like. I think it might be nice to show what Old Town and its cavalier attitude is like to those of us artists who are suddenly faced with a situation completely out of their control. They are truly compassionate, sticking by their rules, and then making it even worse by telling me I don't need to apply again next year."

This is the shows response:

Hi Lynn: Thanks for the email and photos. We're going to have to be tough here, despite your obvious trouble, as it is less than two weeks until the show and we'll have to scramble to find a replacement for you. Further, it is our clearly-stated policy that late cancellations do not receive a refund and the artist may not apply to the next year's show. We must stick to the policy here. I'm sorry for all you're going through. We'll miss having you and wish you all the best.

Joan Goldstein

Exhibitors Committee Co-Chair