Life As An Itinerant Artist

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

Before and After

The Big Bin - Dunedin

Now that the buzz over the election has finally wound down to a reasonable roar, I thought you’d all like to hear about my last two shows of the year. The first, Art Harvest in Dunedin, near Tampa was situated in a nice little park, around Wee Loch Lomond. The second was on city streets in downtown Gainesville, and, appropriately, is called the Downtown Gainesville Festival and Art Fair. And the two shows couldn’t have been more different. The current economic crisis, coupled with the hype surrounding the elections certainly had an effect on art purchases, although attendance was good at both shows.

Steve & Anita Baldauf, Karyn Kozo

Steve, Anita and Karyn at the Dunedin Art Harvest awards dinner

Our friends, Steve and Anita Baldauf, were at the Dunedin show, too. The weather was nice for setup, but hot. Friday night after set-up we went up to Tarpon Springs, to the sponge fishing harbor, and had a great meal at Mykonos. After we wandered the streets a bit, and Karyn and Anita bought some delish Greek pastries. We headed back to the hotel, and found that the power was out. While the management fixed that, we sat outside by the pool and had a lovely bottle of Rodney Strong cabernet and some fine cigars, courtesy of our high-rolling friends the Baldaufs!

My space was on the path near the lake, but up a little rise. The back of the booth was 12″ higher than the front! This made it impossible to put the larger print bin in the back, so we just stored it behind the booth on Saturday. My special bin leveling blocks really came in handy here — and let us get the walls level to ground level. More on these in a separate post. Didn’t make much of a difference as most people were just looking, not buying. The show dinner was nice, if a bit basic. Awards were handed out and everybody split. 

Digging a Hole

Karyn employs a dwarf shovel to make our bin level again

Sunday, we hit upon the idea of digging a trench to level out the print bin. Karyn got to work with the dwarf shovel, and after lowering the back wheels into the ground, got the bin level with the rest of the walls. We rolled the big bin out front, as there wasn’t another artist across from us. Unfortunately, it rained a bit in the PM, so we had to throw a tarp over it for a period of time. All in all, Art Harvest is a well-run show, put on by the Junior Leaguers in Dunedin and Clearwater, but people were scared to buy. We saw very little art of any kind walking past the booth, and most artists said the same thing. That was the “before” the election.

Monday, Karyn was on a plane back to Detroit for the week, and I headed to Orlando for a few days off. Steve and I played golf at a great Marriott resort near Disney, and both of us sucked. Steve sucked less than me, however. I spent the week mostly hanging out at Steve and Anita’s and watching the election on tv. It was the culmination of months of interviews, slams, debates and America should be proud that they finally elected a person with intelligence, insight and the patience to hear both sides of the story.

Steve B. golfing at Grande Vista

Steve gets off a good fairway shot while a bird watches amused

Thursday afternoon, I helped the Baldaufs set up their canopy at Festival of the Masters at Downtown Disney. This is a good little show, too, and many of our friends like to do it, as it is a fun mini-vacation. Disney provides a wonderful venue and one-day passes to any Disney park, as well as many other perks. I opted to try the Gainesville show this year, for a little change of pace, and set-up for that show was early Saturday morning, so I had the time to help Steve and Anita get their booth up. Friday morning, I walked the show, and spoke with many of the artists. Then I got on the road up to Gainesville.

Karyn flew in Friday evening, and we did a preliminary site survey. The map that DGFAF provided was difficult to decipher, mainly because they hadn’t bothered to indicate which direction was north on the map. Gainesville streets are on a grid, and all have similar names, like First Street SW, First Avenue East, First Avenue Place SSE, etc. If you haven’t been there before, it’s a bit challenging to figure out. We located our booth spot, and then had a nice dinner at Amelias, an Italian restaurant near the downtown show. After all, it was our anniversary, so we decided to splurge.


Bob brings his own banana peel for that slip and fall suit

Setup was at 5AM, and to the credit of the staff, they were set up with coffee and bagels, and ready to go with registration info. We had a good spot on University Ave., and managed to find a parking spot close to the booth. Sales were good, much better than Dunedin show, and there was an audible sense of relief that the elections were over. The folks in Gainesville are friendly and down to earth. I had a conversation with one couple who brought their own banana peel — when I offered to throw it away, Bob offered to pose for a cartoon photo! 

Sunday morning, I had the chance to walk most of the show, and visit with our friends, CC & Shui Peing Lee, Keui and Richard Dorman, Doug Remien (who was also at Dunedin) and others. In the afternoon, CC came over to our booth as I was being interviewed by a journalism student for a paper she was writing. Between CC and I, we managed to be pretty entertaining. CC offered to read her palm, and I offered up tips on photography. Words & pictures, Alison! If you’re reading this, let me know how it went.

Alison Landry and CC Lee

Alison, a student at Gainesville, doing research on art show

All in all, the shows were fun, and it was good to get out in the warm weather one more time before the winter sets in for real up north. As a bonus, gas prices kept dropping and dropping and dropping. The lowest pump price I paid was in Ohio on the way back, at $1.85/gal. Wow. That’s in sharp contrast to last spring, when price per gallon was over $4.00 in some places.

And finally, this poor little butterfly went for a free ride on the grille of my Toyota Tundra. We first saw him in Clearwater, and it was still attached when I got back to Michigan, about 1400 miles later. Sometimes you’re the windshield, sometimes you’re the bug. At Dunedin, definitely the bug. Gainesville, however, we got to be the windshield. Hallelujah, and didn’t we Barack the Vote!!

Butterfly stuck to grille of truck

A butterfly gets a free ride on the Tundra grill. Unfortunately, the

November 18, 2008

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