Posts Tagged ‘Cherry Creek Arts Festival


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.



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.


Junior Fobotologists

It’s been rather stressful here at Fobot World Headquarters lately.  Many of you will remember Phil (Cheap Fobotics Officer and my husband) from the art fairs we’ve attended.  Phil generally sits at the front of the booth, where most people assume he’s the artist.  He never fails to inform him that no, he’s not the artist, he’s just the eye candy.  And if you read my last post, you may remember that he was suffering from a truly horrific infection in his leg, which only last week has FINALLY been diagnosed as MRSA.  If you don’t know what a MRSA infection is, look it up–and I swear, you’ll start washing your hands (hell, your entire body) every ten minutes.  But that’s not the latest issue.  No, poor Phil was admitted to the hospital last week not for that, but for what turned out to be a large kidney stone.  This thing had its own zip code.  But here’s the good(?) news; if it were not for the kidney stone, we might never have known about the tumor on his OTHER kidney until it was too late.  As it is, it’s small, self-contained, and can be surgically removed fairly easily once he heals from everything else.  Did I mention I’ve been a little stressed lately?

So in the middle of all this drama, I get an email that just makes my entire year.  It was from a teacher, and it read;

I had the pleasure of meeting you with a few of my middle school students this summer at the Cherry Creek Arts Festival in Denver over the 4th of July weekend.  We were one of the lucky schools that was able to participate in the Janus Student Art Buying Program that weekend.  We were amazed with your artwork and I loved the fact that they all were named and had hearts!

I was so inspired by your fantastic “fobots” that I decided to make it one of my art projects.  I collect junk and little pieces of ‘this and that’ all of the time, so I asked my students to bring in a soup can as their body (or anything else that inspired them for the ‘trunk’ of their robot) and a small baggy of junk to use, share, or to replenish my so-called, “junk buffet” of fun items to use.  The students used hot glue guns to put their robots together and on their nametags, they were to name their robot as you do and assign each of their personalities some hobbies too!  Some of our robots are friends or enemies or siblings too!

I wanted to share a few of the photos I took of their amazing works.  Thank you so much, the students absolutely LOVED this project so much and are so proud of their creations.

-Aaryn Novy
Visual Arts Teacher
Columbia Middle School

Is that great or what?  I don’t have room to post all of the pictures they sent, but I’ve put together a few of my favorites. Every single one made me smile–it was nearly impossible to just pick a few. You may remember that I’ve been having trouble lately with some adults copying my work.  I hope they see how creative these kids are.  Every one has a unique and totally original viewpoint, inspired by the Fobots, but completely different at the same time.  Excellent work, Junior Fobotologists!  Keep those glue guns going, keep hunting for the good junk, and remember–wash those hands!


Mojo, No Mojo, Mojo Returns

Hello, Fobot Fans.  Sorry for the long absence–I’ve been meaning to write about our trip to the Cherry Creek Arts Festival in Denver over the July 4 weekend, but it’s been work work work ever since we got back.  You know, I actually started writing this post a month ago, when I finally had the opportunity–nay, the requirement–to sit still for a whole evening.   I’ll tell you why at the end of this post.  If I tell you now, you may stop reading, or at the very least, have your reading experience tainted by unsavory mental images.  But I’ll give you a hint–I recently turned fifty…

After leaving Des Moines, swimming away in a sea of mastiff slobber, we headed for our old stomping grounds–Colorado Springs, CO.  After 17 years in Raleigh, I cannot fully explain the ecstasy induced by spending time outdoors in the summer without being covered in sweat and mosquitos.  Not to mention six good hair days where I didn’t resemble Roseanne Rosannadanna without the bangs.  This whole portion of the trip was so wonderful that I have vowed, once Phil retires, to find a way of living in Colorado for the summer and basing operations there from July to September.  And I’m not even going to go into the joy of seeing all our old friends.  On our final night, Eve and Sol hosted a party at their gorgeous home, overlooking the mountains, that remains the best party I have ever attended in my life.  And not just because I didn’t have to cook or clean up after.

We spent the day before Cherry Creek in Boulder, visiting a friend from my art licensing days (man, does THAT seem like a century ago).  We were asked to do a Friday morning TV spot for some Denver TV stations, so decided to spend Thursday night in Denver to avoid having to get through rush hour traffic in the morning.  Here’s a picture from the shoot:That’s Denver media personality Dan Daru sticking a Fobot’s groin into the camera lens and asking the anchors if they knew how he could tell it was a boy (by the bow tie, of course).  Yup, Dan is quite the comedian.  A very nice man, very funny, but on the whole an unnerving experience, as you just never knew what the hell he was going to say next.

Setup for the show proceeded smoothly, and although it didn’t officially start until Saturday, we participated in a preview event Friday night.  Which meant that Phil got to man the booth by himself, while I attended the gala. Imagine, if you will, about 20 sweaty artists hobnobbing with a few hundred well-dressed, wealthy art patrons at a formal event with much food and wine and an open bar.  Sweet…  There were individual menus at each place setting telling us what wines would be served with what course.  I kept waiting for a waiter to ask if I would be having the filet mignon or the sea bass.  Silly me, they brought us each both.  DO NOT TELL PHIL–he was stuck in the booth and believes we were given cold baloney sandwiches and juice boxes.

Saturday was hot, by Denver standards–93 degrees, but so bone dry the the bottles of ice water the volunteers brought us every hour didn’t sweat.  It was pretty funny–the volunteers, knowing that most of us weren’t local, kept INSISTING that we drink the water, citing the area’s altitude and low humidity.  I think they need to change the state motto to “Welcome to Colorado.  Here’s your water”.  But although the locals apologized for the heat (and after surviving the Great Sauna of Des Moines, we just laughed) they were there to BUY.  By the end of the day, we’d racked up our biggest single day of sales ever.  What can I say–Denver loves robots.

Sunday started out the same, but cooler and with the threat of rain later in the day.  Great sales until about noon, and then…nothing.  Still crowded, still nice weather, but that elusive thing art show people call “buying energy” just evaporated without explanation.  At first I thought it was just us, but everyone’s sales plummeted.  It was the weirdest thing–I thought we’d lost our mojo for good.

Fortunately, Mojo came back on Monday.  Starting with some of the most interesting, discriminating buyers we’ve yet encountered; middle and high school students with a checkbook, part of the Janus art buying program.   Janus, a large investment company with a mission to get art into the schools, gives selected schools a big chunk of money to buy art at Cherry Creek for their school.  But rather than just giving it to the teachers or school administrators, they give it to committees of students who, after asking many thoughtful questions, bought three of my best Fobots.  Afterwards, they had to present their choices in an open forum and explain their decisions.  I’m sorry I missed that, but as I mentioned earlier, Mojo was back, and sales were brisk again.  By the end of the day, we’d wrapped up our best show ever, which made the two day drive home a joyous thing.

Which brings us back to Raleigh, a severely depleted inventory, and three–count’em THREE–shows coming up in September.  Long’s Park Art and Craft Festival in Lancaster PA, September 3-6, our triumphant return to the St. Louis Art Fair September 10-12, and the Plaza Art Fair in Kansas City September 24-26.  So I’ve been a robot-making fool for the last several weeks, sitting still only long enough to prepare for “Baby’s First Colonoscopy” last month.  If you’ve been through this, then you know where I was sitting.  And that “salt” and “citrus” are two tastes that should NEVER be combined.


Fobots Massing for Invasion

That’s what it looks like, doesn’t it?  And this is only about half of the invading force that will be storming (ooh, no, don’t say storming…) Des Moines, Iowa on Friday, June 23.  Yes, we’ll be appearing at the Des Moines Arts Festival June 23-25, before driving to Colorado, hanging with all our old Colorado buddies (hi, Jan!), and then doing the Cherry Creek Arts Festival in Denver from July 2-5.  And then, a looooooong drive home–lucky we have a new Fo-Bo-Mo-Bile, but that’s the subject for another post.  Stay tuned…

So, what do your new Fobot overlords have planned for you after the invasion?  For starters; mandatory recycling (with violations punishable by flogging), the return of “Battlebots” on Comedy Central, and “Domo Arigoto, Mr. Roboto” will be the new national anthem.


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.

October 2021

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