Posts Tagged ‘Columbus Arts Festival



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.


Mother Nature Hates Me

I had been planning to write a blog entry about our art fair travels so far this year.  It was going to be called “Fobodyssey”. In fact, it may still be called that, although first I have to look up “Odyssey” and make sure it’s spelled like that.

But first, this just in from Columbus, OH, where we’re participating in the Columbus Arts Festival. A freak microburst hit us without warning last night around 7pm, destroying several tents and a lot of artwork. It had been sprinkling on and off most of the day, so when it started again, nobody thought anything of it. And then…WHAM.  Can I get bigger type here?  OK, WHAM will have to do. Had we received any notice this was coming, we could have put up the two side walls of the tent (we were on a corner) and moved all our bins and stuff inside. Everything (and everyone) was soaked, I was pushing against the display unit on the windy side with all my strength to keep it from blowing over (and those suckers are heavy), and at one point I grabbed my best piece–“Tin Schwinn”, who I had just sold via email to a collector in Pennsylvania–just as the wind blew over the column he was on. Ankle deep water ran through our booth, and all my calendars and gift bags were ruined, but miraculously, no damage to the Fobots, even though a few tried to dive into the river for a swim.

This is all my fault.  Earlier in the day, I had been remarking to another artist that the bad weather curse that had been following us seemed to have been lifted this year. I had been concerned last year that when artists and show organizers realized that tragedy struck whenever and wherever Phil and I set up a tent, they’d come after us with torches and pitchforks.

So, artists and show directors, please don’t come after us with torches and pitchforks. I seriously hurt my back last night dragging stuff into the tent during the storm.  I can’t run fast at all.

Pictures to follow.  Maybe.

Epilogue: Too busy today setting up again after the storm to take any pictures. Always makes me feel like a vulture, anyway. But follow  this link to some horrifying photos on Facebook: 32 artists had damages significant enough that they had to leave the show–many lost their tent and everything in it.  If you’d like to help, here’s another link:

We actually had a really good day today.  I’d fell guilty about it if my back didn’t hurt so much.

June 2018
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