I might have been a little too enthusiastic in the winter time with signing up for summer art shows. This summer I’ve been participating in an art show almost every other weekend. I’ve been spending my ‘free’ time trying to stay on top of making enough art to replace the art that I sold at the past show. It’s been interesting to compare and contrast between outdoor venues and indoor venues. In June, I participated the famous Beaches Arts & Crafts show in Toronto. A good friend of mine lives in the Beaches, and Charlotte and I had been on the shopping side of the show before. This was my first time being on the other side of tent – trying to make the sale.
After setting up Friday night before the weekend show, I dropped by Charlotte’s new house, just up the road from Kew Gardens on Queen St. W. Charlotte’s new house is amazing! Beautiful old house, lovingly restored by the previous owner, quiet backyard with a pool (!) and lots of room for their two boys to run around. You can check out Charlotte’s blog about all her great ideas for decorating older homes on a creative DIY budget: http://www.marshallhousematters.com/ .
Saturday at the show was quite busy and both of my friends Charlotte and Amy stopped by for a visit. It’s always great to have some company at these shows – both to give you a social break and to give you a chance to run to the washroom and grab some snacks/water/coffee to refresh you. Some art shows have ‘floaters’ as volunteers to watch your booth for you, but I find that the bigger the show, the less time there is for the vendors. I find shows that are geared for fine art and run by art associations tend to be a lot more ‘comfortable’ for the vendor. Those shows that are more ‘craft-focused’ are run like a business and the focus is all on the shopper.
On Sunday, I had another vendor stop by to complement me on my encaustic mosaics. The photographer, Jessica Lin and I exchanged notes on our experiences in participating in different art & crafts shows across the GTA. We’ve both found so far that many of the ‘art’ shows are really much more focused on crafts, and the customers seem to have less appreciation for the fine art (but then complain that there’s not enough of it in the shows). It’s a fine balance – art is something that has to speak to the individual, and also they have to be in the right place, right time, and right headspace to have something ‘speak to them.’ Whereas, if you’re selling purses – well, you can always use another purse, right? Anyways, after a good chat, Jessica and I did a trade – one of my small Japanese-themed mosaics in peach, for three of her Paris photographs (an old windows theme). We both chose artworks that reminded us of previous vacations – so again, right time and place even for us artists!
The best thing about the art shows is meeting future clients and starting personal commissions. Based on my mosaics shown at the Beaches, I met with a new client to view her home and get a feel for her interests and colour scheme. This commission will definitely keep me busy in between prepping for next summer shows.
The other show I participated in at the end of June was another first for me – the Barns Art Market. This is held on the last Saturday of every month from May to October, with a special Friday night event in September. It is run during the same time period as the outdoor Farmers Market behind the Artscape Wychwood Barns in Toronto. This location used to be an old streetcar garage, and the building has been completely renovated and repurposed for the local arts community. The weather that day was hot and sunny, and there were people everywhere. Kids were playing in the playground’s splashpad, musicians were playing at the Farmers’ Market and the artists set up shop in the ‘covered street’ of Barn 2 at Wychwood.
The space was fantastic – I couldn’t get over how unique an exhibition space it was. Huge, lofty glass ceiling, exposed brick walls and old photographs and signs from the early 1900’s till almost present day showing the life of the Toronto streetcar. There was also a community gallery just around the corner from Barn 2 where you could host your own gallery opening for a very reasonable price.
The only issue I could see is that a lot of the people at the Farmer’s Market did not seem aware that the art fair was taking place inside just a few steps away from the stalls. I think more advertising in the market would help to redirect some of the foot traffic inside to see the artists. Quite a few people that stopped by my booth seemed surprised by the art show, and they had only been taking a short cut through Barn 2 on their way to buy their groceries. Still, I’m glad I took part in it if only to see the lovely repurposed space of the Artscape Wychwood Barns.
Next show up is in Port Credit Outdoor Art Show in Memorial Park in Mississauga. This is a slightly different location than last year’s show which had been on the Marina’s boardwalk. I’ll be curious if we get the same foot traffic that we did last year, being across the street. I’ll cross my fingers that the weather cooperates for the weekend’s show.