Show Report: Artscape 2009
Best. Show. Ever. Period.
Need I say more? Yes, probably, though that tells the story of last weekend.
After two consecutive years of being placed on the waiting list for Artscape (after having my work accepted in 2006, the first year I applied), I was excited to participate in this large show again. I learned a valuable lesson this year. Unlike in years past, the application included this one sentence: "Apply early; categories fill quickly," which indicates a rolling, not a set jury. This makes a huge difference when applying in a small category such as mine (mixed media). From now on, you can bet I will apply just as I did this year, on the second day the application was available online at Zapplication.org.
Our trip up to Baltimore was uneventful, and of course we made our traditional family breakfast stop at Friendly's, though we didn't indulge in our favorite Fribbles until the return trip on Monday afternoon. Upon arrival at the Artscape site on Thursday, we located the tent we'd share with four other artists (what a joy not to have to set up our own tent!), and put up our panels and lights. We waited to load in stock until Friday morning, as usual. Here's how the booth looked just before the show opened (which you can tell by the Windex on the desk, and no people walking by). We got lots of comments about the booth, with a number of people saying it felt like they were in someone's living room...probably because of our bamboo rugs. Of course, we replied with thanks, and the suggestion that they could take some of our living room home to their own...
Friday morning dawned cloudy and misty, and rain was forecast, but we were optimistic about the weather for the rest of the weekend. It did indeed rain for awhile on Friday afternoon, but just as we'd hoped, Saturday and Sunday were picture-perfect days: temperatures in the low to mid 80s, and low humidity.
The crowd on Friday was sparse during the day, but increased significantly after 5pm. Artscape runs from noon to 10pm each day, which is a loooonnng day for exhibitors, especially if no one is buying. Fortunately, we made some sales on Friday, and everyone said Saturday would be much better (which we knew from our own 2006 experience).
Saturday started off with a bang. The police estimated the crowd to be 175,000, with 60,000 people attending the concert (by a group we'd never heard of, nor could we hear, given our location)! Of course, not everyone visited or even walked past our booth, but it sure felt like it. We looked out of our tent at about 2:00, and couldn't see the street in any direction! Masses of people commuted to the show on the Light Rail, which was just below our booth, making it a great location. People responded positively to my work (always a nice thing), and even asked questions about technique (Artscape is held near the Maryland Institute of Contemporary Art, so many artists, art teachers and art lovers attend). We sold all but two small clocks, mirrors, and many of the Tarishi message holders I'd created especially for Artscape, and a few large clocks. I also wrote a wholesale order with the same downtown Baltimore boutique I'd first done business with in 2006 (we've kept in touch, and I've done two other orders in the time between Artscapes). It's such a pleasure to do business with Esther of Sankofa African & World Bazaar. If you're in Baltimore, go visit, and tell her Michelle says hello.
Sunday was even better; I sold several Ancestress mounted masks, some large bamboo wall hangings, and one of my newest medium bamboo bowl wall hangings, from the 'Leaf Dance' series. By early afternoon, all of the clocks had been sold, and I took a custom order from a gentleman who'd seen one he liked but didn't buy on Saturday. And, a "fight" nearly broke out between friends over which one would buy a mirror they both loved. It worked out fine; each bought one of a similar design which was great for their friendship and for me.
We were exhausted yet exhilarated by the weekend; it's great to have the affirmation of an excellent show, especially in this economy. Getting back to normal in the studio will take some time. I plan to rest a bit after spending many consecutive 12-hour days creating product for this show. I need some creative battery recharging time. Our next scheduled show is Festival in the Park in Charlotte in late September, so there's time to relax...just a bit, then it's back to creating new things...I'd love to better my 'Honorable Mention' win from last year there. So, it'll be 'back to the drawing board'...eventually.