Archive for the 'Art Fair' Category


Trunk Show

2elephantsWhen in the course of human events you’ve been rejected from one of your favorite shows for three years running, you can either (a) accept that it’s one of the hardest shows in the country to get into and try again next year, (b) curse the injustice and inhumanity of it all and wallow in self-pity, or (c) experiment with something completely different. It’s time for plan C.

We love the St. Louis Art Fair. It was the first fair we ever did, and it is consistently one of our best. Which is why it’s really annoying that, after participating in it for four consecutive years, now the jury won’t let us in. Especially annoying because my work is so much better now than when I started. I mean really, I look at the jury pictures I sent them the first year I applied and they must have been out of their MINDS to accept me. And after listening to the irate responses from our St. Louis mailing list after informing them yet AGAIN that we won’t be in attendance, I’m taking matters into my own hands. SO–on September 11 and 12, concurrent with the St. Louis Art Fair and one short block away, we’ll be having a trunk show at the Crowne Plaza Hotel in Clayton.

Sure, it’s a risk. It could be high school all over again, and nobody will show up for my party. But for the last two years, as we’ve been driving home from Sausalito, we’ve passed right through St. Louis as the show was going on. We’ve even spent the night there. So, since we’ll be in the area anyway, we’ve reserved a suite at the Clayton Crowne Plaza at Carondelet and Bemiston, one block from the show, Friday, September 11 from 5-10pm, and Saturday, September 12 from noon to 10pm. Here are the advantages:

Air conditioning! (Honestly, I can’t emphasize that enough).
Wine and cheese.
Zero percent chance of storms blowing the tent over.
Free parking–if you buy a bot, we’ll pay for a day of free parking at the hotel. And since parking is tough near the fair, you can leave your vehicle at the Crowne Plaza all day while you shop the rest of the show!
A quiet, friendly, relaxed atmosphere. No pressure–you don’t have to buy anything, just come and catch up and see the latest bots.

Obviously, we don’t know the room number yet. You can check back here September 11, or email me at and I’ll put you on the special mailing list for the event. So, aside from an extra night in a nice hotel, what have we got to lose? NUTHIN, that’s what!


Schedule Change–Sorry, Cottonwood

To anyone in the Dallas TX area who was planning on visiting us at the Cottonwood Art Festival in Richardson TX–we’re so sorry, but we’ve had to withdraw from the show. Sales at Fiesta San Antonio this last weekend were just too good.  And even though the last day of the Main St. Ft. Worth Arts Festival was canceled due to a threat of nasty weather, it was still good enough to place it second on our list of best shows ever.  Second only to Main St. LAST year.

The good news is, we won awards (!) at both Ft. Worth and San Antonio this year, so we’ll be able to return to both next year without having to jury in.  The Fiesta Art Fair in San Antonio was probably the most enjoyable show we’ve ever done.  The atmosphere was joyous–everyone in SA comes out for Fiesta, wearing huge crazy hats and covered in commemorative medals. Our booth was inside the chapel of a former convent at the Southwest School of Art–the most beautiful setting ever, and you KNOW how much I like being indoors at these shows, safe from Mother Nature’s whims. I really should gave taken more pictures, but here are a few. If Fiesta and Main St. are on the same weekend next year, I’m just going to have to clone myself.
photo 4photo 3
photo 2 photo 1


Welcome to Rejection Season

It never fails to amaze me how many people think that the artists they see at art festivals simply decide which shows they would like to do, and then arrive the day of the festival and start selling.  In tents provided by the festival, no less. Wish it were true, but it ain’t. No, we’re just now starting what the artists I know call “Rejection Season”.

“Rejection Season” is when all of the shows we’ve submitted applications to months and months ago (along with a hefty jury fee) start letting us know who’s in and who’s out. Imagine, if you will, thousands of artists obsessively pressing the refresh button on their email inbox like chickens trying to get a pellet of corn to dispense. At least I do. Don’t you judge me.

And the stakes are high. Get into enough shows–or even just a few of the “right” ones–and your year is made. Get enough rejections, and you start wondering how you’ll look in a Walmart vest. And since you can’t count on any show coming through for you–even ones you’ve done for years–you apply to multiple shows on the same weekend and hope for the best. It’s expensive. It’s stressful. It’s why my parents wanted me to study accounting.

But before you feel sorry for me, I have a confession to make. I don’t want to tell this to my artist friends, many of whom are struggling now, but so far this year we’ve gotten into every show we’ve applied to, and even had to turn one down (sorry Dogwood, but when you’re on the same weekend as Main St. Ft. Worth, our best show ever, you’re going down). This is an embarrassment of riches, and I consider myself the luckiest artist on the planet. If you’ll look to the right of this page, you’ll see a list of where the Fobots will be in 2014.* And if you don’t see your town on the list, don’t panic. We’re still waiting to hear on plenty of shows. Rejection season ain’t over yet…

*Old Town Chicago–we’re in, but may not be able to make it this year, so you’re not on the list yet.

UPDATE–we’ve been accepted to Lakefront Festival of Art in Milwaukee, so we’re going to put Old Town back on the list, since they’re on consecutive weekends.  I was hoping to audition for a play that would conflict with both of those shows, but the idiocy of canceling not one, but TWO art fairs, in favor of an unpaid community theatre gig, has finally sunk in. Dates and other schedule details are in the column on the right.


Goodbye, Columbus

I recently made the difficult decision to withdraw from the Columbus Arts festival. The picture below, from last year, should say it all.  But if you want further reasons, here’s what I wrote to the new director:

It is with great disappointment that I must withdraw from the 2012 Columbus Arts Festival.

When I applied this year, it was with the assurance of last year’s director that, after the 2011 disaster, none of the artists would be placed on the bridges over the river when the show relocated to the riverfront park. Unfortunately, that promise has not been honored. I had hoped that, given time, you would rethink your decision, but that does not seem to be the case.  I’ve been doing a lot of soul-searching over this.  Even if I was one of the lucky ones to obtain a space on solid ground, I  would be devastated if another storm hit and my compatriots on the bridges took a direct hit while I escaped damage.

I know you must think I’m being a total wimp about this.  And I realize that the odds of another microburst hitting the festival are small.  But you weren’t there last year.  You didn’t hear the thunder, the screams, the crashing of glass and pottery, the tears afterwards.  You didn’t feel yourself lifted off the ground while your tent (with 200+ pounds of weight) threatened to become a 10′ by 10′ kite.  You didn’t look down at the ankle deep water and realize that no one had thought to shut off the power to the tents, risking electrocution to everyone.  And the only reason that the damage wasn’t worse is that the majority of the booths received some shelter from the wind from the neighboring buildings.  On those bridges, there is nothing to block the wind for miles.

I realize that you have a romantic notion of artists leaning their paintings against the railings of the bridges over the Seine.  Those artists can grab their paintings and run for cover if a storm hits.  They’re not there overnight, either, and they’re not standing in giant kites.  And it’s undeniable that the incidents of severe weather have been increasing over the last several years.  I hope and pray that nothing like that happens at the Columbus Arts Festival this year–or any year in the future.  But you’re playing Russian roulette with people’s livelihoods–and lives–and I don’t care to risk it for the chance of making a few dollars.

Of course, if you change your mind, I’d be happy to re-apply next year.  That is, if I haven’t just burned all my bridges.  Ooh, don’t say bridges…

So sorry, Columbus. I’m sure the weather will be beautiful, and the park will be lovely. I’m sure you all think I’m a big weenie.  According to the new director, only three artists requested spots off the bridge, so I’m sure he thinks I’m a weenie AND an idiot.  That’s OK. This is one case in which I REALLY don’t want to have the last laugh. Best of luck, Columbus.


The Rules

WARNING: This post is for the amusement of my fellow art fair exhibitors.  If you are a patron, don’t read this.  And if you DO read this, remember—I’m not talking about you. You’re perfect.

(1) The weather will always be perfect the day after the show.

(2) No one who enters your booth carrying a sponsor’s giveaway bag full of free stuff will ever buy anything from you.

(3) The more lavishly people praise your work, the less likely they are to buy from you.  The praise is your payment.* And that’s OK.

(4) People who enter your booth while you are frantically trying to set up or pack up will also never buy anything from you. They are there to get in the way, and subtle hints are wasted on them.

(5) If you bring two similar items to a show—say, two monkey robots or two robots with refrigerators for bodies–neither one will sell.

(6) After spending a great deal of time in your booth, polite people will do one of three things.  They will tell you that they will be back soon. They will ask for a business card (AKA, the “get out of jail free card”), implying that they will most likely make a purchase in the future. Or they will ask for something that you do not have, like a vampire zombie ninja robot, implying that if only you had had that item they would have bought it.

(7) People who stand in front of–or in–your booth while holding a stroller out at arm’s length, effectively blocking anyone else from entering and exiting, while talking on their cell phone in a loud voice… not only will they not buy anything, but they will give you dirty looks if you suggest they move.

(8) Patrons come to an art festival to look, not to read. So if you put up a sign stating, for example, that all items on this shelf are $160 and that they all open up to reveal a heart inside, that sign might as well be invisible, and you will be asked repeatedly how much they are and do they ALL have a heart inside?

I was hoping to make it an even 10. Any suggestions?  I’ll update this list if you or I can think of any more. But for now, I’m going to make a vampire zombie ninja robot.

*I read about an artist who tried a psychological experiment with his patrons. Rather than saying “thank you” to people who praised his work, thus accepting their “payment”, he continued to talk about his work instead.  The compliments got bigger and more grandiose, but still he would not say “thanks”. Finally, when it became evident that he was either in danger of being nominated for sainthood, or that they would never leave, he gave in.  They fled.

Update: I knew you guys would come through for me!  We now have an even 10 Commandments.  Thanks to Barbara Johansen Newman and Phil Crone for rules #9 and 10, respectively:

(9) No matter how many thousands of times a day people ask you the same question (Where do you find all your parts? How long does it take you to make these? Where do you get your ideas?), you must remember that it is the first time they’ve asked that question, and answer with sincerity and enthusiasm.

(10) The command “Don’t touch!” issued by a parent to a child entering your booth seemingly absolves the parent from any responsibility to actually prevent the child from touching all your stuff.


Coconut Grove and Winter Park

Where does the time go? Two shows under our belts this year already, and at least seven more to come. Yup, I’ve been a robot-makin’ fool lately. But on a rainy Saturday morning, I just though I’d let you know how it’s going so far.

Our first two festivals of the year were in Florida—Coconut Grove in Miami, and Winter Park near Orlando. Like I was telling everyone before we left, even if we don’t sell a thing, at least we’ll be in Florida. But we did sell, and pretty darn well, too. I don’t know if the economy has finally turned around, or if the difference was the awesome new display units I’ve been working on all winter, but we had two of our best shows ever. Miami outpaced WP by a fair margin, and yet, if I had to do one of them again, I’d pick Winter Park.

The weather was sublime at both shows, much to my relief. But the big difference was the atmosphere.  In Miami, we were jammed in together on the streets as tightly as possible, loading in and out was a disorganized mess, the music (?) from the Verizon stage was deafening, and the whole affair had a carnival atmosphere. Whereas in Winter Park, we were under the trees in a beautiful park, there was plenty of room between booths and for storage, and the artists were treated more as honored guests than as sideshow attractions. But the biggest difference was this: in WP, ALL the artists seemed to be doing well.  Not just us, not just a few lucky ones, but everyone around us was having a good and profitable show. I can’t tell you what a difference that makes. The mood was euphoric. And I speak as someone who just can’t have a good time unless EVERYONE is having a good time. It was bliss. We’d be happy to participate in either show again, but Winter Park holds a special place in my heart–cross your fingers that we get invited back next year.

Here’s a photo of the new booth, taken in Winter Park. Try not to be blinded by the whiteness of my legs–they hadn’t seen the sun in quite a while. And the hair–well, no excuses. It’s always like that.




As previously threatened, here (finally) is the epic story of our travels this summer. Four shows in five weeks without driving home between them may be good for the gas mileage, but it’s hell on one’s personal life.

First stop: Columbus Ohio.  I think I’ve written quite enough about Columbus (see previous blog post).  That storm was one of the scariest things I’ve ever experienced. According to witnesses, one tent caught the gale just right and ended up stuck in some trees, two stories up. But we survived, my back has recovered, and we’ve already been invited back next year. But here’s what gives me pause–maps of the layout for next year’s fair, which moves back to its original location at a riverfront park, show most of the artists’ booths on the two bridges over the river. Sorry, but no freakin’ way. There’s nothing blocking the wind for miles, and if we get another storm, they’ll be fishing art out of the river for months.

Here’s a weird anecdote about the Columbus show. At the thirteen previous shows we’ve exhibited at, we’ve had maybe three requests total for a dentist robot. At Columbus, we must have had a dozen. What gives, Columbus? Was there a dentist convention going on there at the time? Are you all obsessed with dental health? Were we the victim of some kind of bizarre flash mob or practical joke? So here you go, Columbus–meet the Tooth Fairy:

Next up: Chicago, for the Old Town Art Fair. But first—shopping! We must get asked 400 times a day, “Where do you find all your stuff?” Our new favorite answer–and pastime–stopping at antique malls as we drive between shows.  Here’s the haul from Columbus to Chicago:

And what else did we do in the five days between shows? The Field Museum (awesome), the Chicago Art Institute (awesomer), and the Shedd Aquarium (seriously un-awesome, as it was cold and rainy and absolutely crawling with unruly kids). Given the choice of looking at live fish or a video display to help one identify said fish, kids will completely ignore the live fish and focus on the electronic ones. So here’s a picture from an exhibit of electronic art at the Art Institute. Yup, that’s us on the video screen. No irony there…

The Old Town Art Fair is the only show for which I will wake up at 5am for a 6:30am setup. It’s THAT good. Even though it had been raining for days, and the only thing worse than setting up at 6:30am is setting up at 6:30am in the rain. Miraculously, the rain stopped just in time, though the cold lingered and I had to buy a winter coat that evening. Did I mention this was June? But sales were brisker than the climate. I even sold a bunch of my best, more “high end” pieces to some very discerning collectors. I love you Chicago.  Please invite us back next year. Pleeeeeeaaaaaase?

Flew home Monday to furiously restock before show #3, a week and a half later. Picked up the van in Chicago and drove to Des Moines. Not our biggest show, but definitely one of our favorites. Great organizers and volunteers, a kick-ass party for the artists Saturday night, and a beautiful setting encircling a sculpture park. Here’s a picture of my favorite piece, an three story tall seated figure composed of metal letters, by Jaume Plensa. It looks like he’s watching over the row of lighted tents, blessing and protecting them.

We’re on the far left. No horrible storms THIS year until a full two hours after we’d packed up and left. Woohoooo!

And then…more junking!

Finally, the Cherry Creek Art Festival, holder of the record for most Fobots sold in 2010. You know the cliche, “It’s not the heat, it’s the humidity”? It really is true. Temperatures parked themselves in the mid-nineties all three days, and it was so dry it was wonderful. At least, compared to the sauna that is North Carolina. It’s so dry (how dry is it?) that if you get the turndown service at the fancy hotel we were staying at, they don’t leave a chocolate on your pillow, they leave a bottle of water. Seriously. By the end of the day, deer were coming out of the woods to lick my face, it was so salty. And I did suffer one injury–after two days, back in the hotel, I felt like I’d burned the thumb and forefinger of my right hand. Couldn’t figure out how I did it for the life of me. That is, until I got back to the show Monday morning, and tried to twist open the first of probably a dozen bottles of water for the day. Yup-I’d developed “water bottle hand”. Can I get workmen’s comp for that?

Once again, students sponsored by Janus, and armed with large amounts of cash, descended on the show to buy art for their schools. And once again, they picked a Fobot: “Boy Toy”, pictured below along with some of the student buyers. These kids were so bright, so inquisitive, and so determined to pick just the right pieces of art for their schools, they restored my faith in kids. Which was still pretty shaky after the screaming hellions at the Shedd Aquarium.

So, bottom line, how was the Cherry Creek Art Fair? Let me put it this way–you may have noticed that there’s one less show listed in the schedule on the right side of this blog. Sorry, Arts, Beats, & Eats in Royal Oak Michigan, but sales were so overwhelming, we had to cancel. And there’s now a new sales record. DENVER LOVES FOBOTS. And we love you too, Denver.

May 2020

Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 104 other followers