We just returned from our final show of the season, Festival in the Park, in Charlotte. We've always liked this show, and Charlotte; in fact, we've begun and ended our show season there for the past three years.
This year's shows in Charlotte were disappointing in terms of sales. This weekend, the weather played a large role; the show was virtually washed out on Saturday. We left at 6:00 pm, after braving a day filled with dreary mists, light showers, heavy rain, and finally, torrential downpours. It was clear no one was coming out for the final four hours of the show, and the prospect of dinner in a nice, quiet, dry restaurant was very appealing. Luckily, Sunday's weather was beautiful, and the crowds were large, but unfortunately none of that made up for the lost day. We had lovely weather in April for Art and Soul of South End, but sales were significantly less than in previous years.
Our experience in Charlotte mirrors that of many of the artists we know; this was a difficult year for many of them. Overall, we had two fantastic shows in July: Festival for the Eno in Durham, and Artscape, in Baltimore, MD. Our sales were excellent, we made great contacts, wrote a repeat wholesale order, took custom orders, and had a great time in each location. How do we explain the wide variation in show experiences? We don't, but we know the economy is still a factor, of course.
I think people do want to support the work of creative artists, and people react positively to my work and the functionality of the clocks and mirrors. I'm encouraged by the feedback I receive, especially when someone engages me in conversation about my Ancestresses. I read today that an artist has to develop a "tribe," a group of people who follows her work, and who "get" what she does. I had thought I'd found that "tribe" in Charlotte, since I have a number of repeat customers, and a fairly good response to my discount postcard mailings. I still think it's there, but this year wasn't as good a year as my previous two.
But, we always say at the worst shows you connect with the best friends, and this weekend was no exception. My friend, the fabulous Charlotte-based artist, Monique Luck won Best in Show for her piece, shown here called "Set On Fire" (click on it to enlarge, and see the exquisite detail). Monique is a lovely person, and her mixed media collage and painted pieces are intricate, evocative and intriguing. Congratulations again, Monique!
We also met Vicki and Scott Supraner of Hawksbill Pottery, and admired the beautiful glazes and designs of their handcrafted stoneware. I love the Orange Striped Bowl shown here, as well as their lovely fern and leaf-patterned pieces. They work side by side in their Charlottesville, VA studio, and do numerous shows throughout the country. It's great to get to know other artists, and get a glimpse into how they create and sell.
For me, as a dear friend says, it's "onward and upward," which means fulfilling my custom and wholesale orders and developing new designs for next year. I'll also be working on a new marketing idea (not new to the world, just new to me!), so there'll be some big changes in my "off season". And, as always, being open to new ways of looking at things, new beginnings and new possibilities.