Life As An Itinerant Artist

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

Crosby Gardens Festival of Art – Review

The last weekend in June, 240 artists converge on the Toledo Botanical Gardens for  the Crosby Gardens Art Festival. I did this show last year, and although the booth was towards the back of the show, I had lots of visitors, and did pretty well. So this year we returned to the same spot.

Set-up is fairly easy. You can setup on Friday morning from 9AM to about 4:30PM, and the show officially opens for a VIP preview at 6PM. If you need extra time you can setup on Thursday, and the organizers will even let you setup earlier, on prior approval. It’s low key, and pretty easy to get your vehicle near your booth on the paths that wind through the park. Weather is usually beastly hot, though, and this Friday’s setup was no exception. Humidity after Thursday’s torrential rains made it especially sweaty.

The VIP Preview saw a few people wandering through the park, but not a lot of purchases seemed to go by our booth. Electricity is available in certain areas of the park, but not where I was. I did bring a little generator, a 2000W Honeywell inverter jenny that I found at Home Depot for a song. I was able to place it well out of the way of the artists and the walking path, and it powered my 110V lighting system quite well. It was a big help at dusk. The booth had a nice bright feeling to it, in contrast to the astrophotographer next to me who had a very dark booth, more suited to his galactic imagery.

Saturday the good folk of Toledo came out to see the art. Our show neighbors Jim and Denise Ardis made good sales of his copper sculptures. There were a lot of empty spaces, though. The painter who had been next to us last year was a no show. I was able to hang a couple of pieces on the side wall, which garnered a lot of attention. I spoke to a couple of the judges at length, which is always nice. Later, we learned that I won a ribbon — third place in the photography category. Nice ribbon and a small check (in the mail). Recognition is always welcome!

Sunday there was a bit of a shower overnight, but by 10AM, the rains departed for good, and we had brisk traffic most of the morning and afternoon. Ross Hocker of WGTE, the public radio station in Toledo, interviewed me on the live feed from the show. He asked me about my western landscapes, and we talked for a few minutes on the air. That was fun. Later, Ross came by the booth and chatted with Karyn and I about his work and art in general. But overall, sales were down for many people. I didn’t see a lot of work going by, a few 2D pieces. Photographers Doug and Leah Cavanah, from Auburndale, Florida, reported slow sales. Our mutual friends, Randy and Jackie Kuntz had a great show with Randy’s glass, however. Saturday was better for him than Sunday.

Denise Ardis introduced us to an interesting custom: she sprinkles “abundance oil” over her wallet, and chants a mantra to encourage sales. Abundance is not always equal to sales, but can come in the form of friends, laughter, love — you don’t have to believe in this bit of art show voodoo for it to work. What you need comes to you, but it isn’t always what you expect.

Perhaps the best part of the show was the new friends we made. We got to know Doug and Leah a bit better, as we all stayed with Jackie and Randy at the Kuntz Kastle in Holland. Saturday night, we sat out on the deck and watched fireworks over the lake. We spent time with Shirley Brodbeck, who was the first person who ever recognized the make of the tractor in “Field Day”! Shirley stopped by to say hi place of daughter  Barb Brodbeck, who I worked with at Ross Roy, in the 90’s. Barb was working and wasn’t able to make the short trip down from Bloomfield Hills. Hi, Barb!

Although sales at the show weren’t up to my expectations, it’s an appreciative audience and a lovely park. Bottom line: I’d go back because it’s a pleasant show, and I have several followups yet to complete.

July 5, 2009

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