Paying Dues in the Grove

I have a theory.

Our swift rise in the art fair world has some people shaking their heads and complaining that we haven’t paid our dues.  I mean, we’ve been at this less than a year, and our 2010 schedule now includes Coconut Grove, Winter Park, Reston, Des Moines, and Cherry Creek in Denver.  That may not mean much to you, but it’s kind of like saying, “Gee, I think I’d like to be in a play”, and getting cast in a bunch of Broadway shows.  (OK, Maybe Reston is off-Broadway, but still…)  Some people strive for years to be accepted into fairs of this caliber, and here we are waltzing in on our first try.  Like I said, dues must be paid.

Here’s my theory.  The Art Fair Gods have put us on an accelerated dues-paying program. 

Think about it.  First was St. Louis, where we struggled with dehydration, problems setting up the tent, and display units that wobbled.  In other words, rookie mistakes.

Then came Bethesda Row, where the cold and rain made for an experience so miserable it’s a miracle we didn’t get out of this business altogether.

And now we’re back from our third outdoor show at Coconut Grove in Miami.  We arrived Friday afternoon, and after checking in, proceeded to set up.  Weather was pleasantly warm, if a little windy, and things were going normally (make that extremely well–“normal”  for us is NOT something to shoot for).  We had the top, back and side walls in place and were waiting to put up the front until we were finished, when a security guard came zipping by on a golf cart, yelling “Secure your tents, there are 70 mile per hour winds heading this way!”  I thought he must have been kidding, or at least exaggerating, but we made sure our tent was properly weighted down.  In retrospect, we should have put up the front wall.  Not three minutes later, a wall of wind and water hit us so hard I thought we were going to end up in Oz.  Even with the tents upwind of us blocking some of the wind, the force was still strong enough to rip the grommets out of the canvas walls where we had zip-tied to the bottom stability bars, and one of our massive display units, weighing about 75 pounds, got blown over.  Fortunately, all the bots were still in their packing cases, so all we had to do was hang on for dear life while getting completely soaked.  After about ten minutes that seemed longer than W’s administration and just as scary, the wind diminished, although the rain was persistent.   Mercifully, except for the grommets, some dents in the tin front of the display unit, and a few soggy gift bags, we escaped relatively unscathed.  Others were not so lucky–we heard that six tents were destroyed–no mention of the damage, if any, to the artists’ work. 

Fortunately, the following three days of the show were pleasant, despite some lingering winds on Saturday that made me nervous and jumpy but which the veterans didn’t even notice.  Sales were good.  Not St. Louis good, a fact that I attribute to the fact that the pot was being split by 360 artists, as opposed to St. Louis’ 165, but worth the trip.  And we’re starting to meet some of the nicest people, both patrons (Hi Tammie!) and artists.

So, the way I see it, we’re starting to collect the requisite horror stories that all artists swap at these events, and have cleared the hurdles of rookie mistakes, cold, rain, and wind.  The only dues we have still to pay are the ones involving high heat.

We’ll be in Winter Park, FL next month.  Bring it on, Art Fair Gods.  Let’s get this done with.

7 Responses to “Paying Dues in the Grove”

  1. February 18, 2010 at 12:29 pm

    Ok so I read the blog. I loved it and I hate reading blogs. Hope you know now that I truly love you :-)CONGRATULATIONS on show success.


  2. 2 maggi Fuhriman
    February 18, 2010 at 1:57 pm

    amy, you have paid dues! you worked as an illustrated for 25 years isn’t that being an aertist too! and what you learned before may it easier to slip into the robots. Way to go! maggi

    • 3 artgirlraleigh
      February 20, 2010 at 4:10 pm

      Yeah, but it’s a whole different set of dues! It’s like asking the Teamsters if you can transfer over your Screen Actors Guild membership! Or is that the other way around ? Either way thanks–I’m sooooo much happier now.

  3. February 20, 2010 at 10:34 am

    You deserve it all 🙂 I know what you mean about the naysayers though. I had a similar experience when I started doing the shows, got into Des Moine, Plaza & Uptown my first year out, then Belleville Art on the Square & St. Louis, my second year. Yeahyeahyeah. I knew I was lucky (if you believe the luck is when preparation meets opportunity) and Yeah, I made tons of rookie mistakes too. But honestly (without getting into a rant), I truly believe its about the A-R-T. You have something new and fresh that no one has seen before. So yes! You deserve it all. I adore your art and the ingenuity of your process. Rock it out, girl!!
    ps….don’t know if you have thought about doing a show in AL, but you may want to check out the Kentuck show. Its on Zapp, entry due 6/01. I think your work would sell like crazy there plus its just a fun show with terrific music. I’ll be there as I was invited back.

    • 5 artgirlraleigh
      February 20, 2010 at 4:07 pm

      Thanks for al your kind words and encouragement, Mary Beth. I would LOVE to meet you at a show sometime and swap war stories, so I’ll look into Kentuck. It’s on the same weekend as Bethesda Row (think cold and rain) and although I swore I’d never go back there, it IS temptingly close by us. Hmmm, decisions… When did you start doing art fairs?

  4. 6 Tammie
    February 20, 2010 at 4:34 pm

    It was equally nice to meet you Amy… I look forward to our paths crossing again! Can’t wait to watch Ugly Betty next month and see my new house guests “Queen Bee” & “Spong” the monkey ‘bot in all their glory. My Deuce is very happy to have added “Tin Rin Tin Tin” to his growing art collection too!
    I emailed Anthropologie and asked them to send me a copy of their November catalog. Its on it’s way, but of course I couldn’t wait to see the layout, so I peeked at the shop copy when I was at the mall yesterday… fantastic! Seems they’re all sold out too!!
    All the best my friend…


  5. July 12, 2010 at 12:54 pm

    Hello Amy,
    I first heard about your Fobots last Sep. when I was participating in an art fair here in my hometown of St.Charles, MO. The fair was one week after the St.Louis Art Fair in Clayton MO which you did. I, like you am a found object artist/mixed media artist.
    Using everyday items connected to scrap metal mostly by welding or brazing.A patron was in my booth and asked if I heard of Fobots and she tried to describe them to me. I googled Fobots and your site popped up. pretty cool.
    I liked your comments on “paying your dues” I keep telling myself that, that is what I am doing now. I have tried and failed more than a few times to acheive success in entering the upper tier art fairs, like St.Louis. I know that it is just a matter of time and I will succeed.For now I do most of the other shows in the St.Louis area
    and have several galleries and shops sell my work. It all keeps me buzy even in this economical envirement. I hope to get a chance to stop by your booth when you are at the St.Louis fair. I think that your stuff is pretty neat.
    Your comments on the tents are right on, I have a Trimlne “fortress”. I got tired of the ez-up failing to protect my display. I have been looking at the happy feet but have not bought any yet.
    Good luck to you when you come here to St.Louis. I enjoy your website
    Joseph Farmer
    St.Charles, MO.

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February 2010

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