Life As An Itinerant Artist

Stories and anecdotes from fifteen years on the art show circuit. 

Getting it out of my system

Levis Commons 2008

Is it that August is traditionally one of the hottest months of year?

Or perhaps that it’s the last month before kids have to go back to school? What about all those back to school expenses? Maybe it’s those last minute yard projects or the lure of fishing out on the lake. Maybe it’s just the political climate and the economy.

Whatever the reason, August this year has been awful for art shows. People just don’t seem to have the energy for it. Artists are lurking in the back of the booth, reading the newspaper or chatting up their friends. Customers are walking in the middle of the street looking this way and that, but very few show participants are actually engaging in meaningful discussions about art, politics or anything! I’ve noticed this trend at the past two shows — both Gold Coast in Chicago (a pretty affluent area) and in Perrysburg this last weekend at the Levis Commons show (also an affluent area) — people are so burned out that they just don’t care about art.

Oh sure, I had my share of nice conversations with people about my work, as did most of my neighbors at these recent shows. People have said some very nice things, and I do appreciate the people that take the time to make meaningful comments. Thanks to all of you who come to shows to be excited, to be influenced and perhaps to give some new work a home! But the majority of the crowds seem to be there solely as an alternative to the mall. I’d be generous if I said they were window shopping. Maybe that’s why the crowds were so sparse at Levis Commons this past weekend — the weather was hot, there were better things to do, like cut the lawn or go to the mall, maybe the art wasn’t that great last year — whatever the reason, it’s up to me as an artist to make it worthwhile for folks who do show up to get engaged with my work.

Art shows provide one of the few venues where art lovers can actually meet and talk to the artists whose work they enjoy. It’s up to all of us to make the most of these opportunities, even if the weather is hot, or the fish are biting. Life is too short to wander aimlessly down the path.

August 25, 2008

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