Copyright 2001 Linda Marcas - All Rights Reserved
Crank's Corner: Commentary by Linda Marcas
Doin' That Art Fair Thing
I'm baa-aaaaaaaack! Maybe you missed me, maybe you didn't; maybe you didn't even notice I've
been gone. My thanks to Whetstone, who helped me out by writing a couple "Guest Cranks," and my
apologies to JP for the week that I had a column due but just didn't have time to write one. In light of the
crazy events that took place recently, I doubt that anyone would have read my natterings that week, anyway.
So, where was I, and what did I do while I was gone? First, hubby and I took a little vacation to
drive to Allentown, Boston, Buffalo, and Chicago in our Little Red Zippy Car, chasing after Our Favorite
Band, the Red Elvises, and visiting old friends of mine in New England. Then, once we returned to NB, I
was locked in my workshop, frantically making jewelry and otherwise getting ready for the Black Swamp
Arts Festival, which was held in Bowling Green on Sept. 7-8-9.
For several years now, I've been meaning to get an article into the NB News the week before the
festival, just a little self-promoting blurb about the stuff I make and why I make it, with perhaps a photo or
two of me working and the finished products. I always forget, because the two weeks before a show are
what I refer to as "crunch time," a period of concentrated busy-ness and panic. I am never as prepared for a
show as I think I should be!
This year was no exception; even though I had taken things to work on in the car during our road
trip, I still had plenty to do once we got back, and not enough time to do it all. Setting up to sell your work
at an art fair is a process that begins months before the show itself, with the artists sending in slides of their
work for a jury to decide whether or not they can be in the show at all (jury fees are, of course, non-
refundable), and paying a participation fee as well. The deadline for Black Swamp jurying and payment
was May 1, so, more than four months ago, I had to have current slides of my work and over $100 ready to
The process of taking slide photos and having them developed is in itself a challenge in this digital
age, but, so far, slides are the only thing that art fair juries accept for judging. They usually send the slides
back in a month or so (with one held back for their archives), but that $100+ would not come back until I
sold enough stuff at the show to make it up. For me, this is a sure thing, but I have several friends who've
entered shows and not sold enough to cover their table fees, never mind time, travel, food, materials, etc., so
the whole endeavor netted nothing but a loss. Some people give up doing art fairs at all, and stick to selling
their work through galleries and other stores.
Hubby is glad that I'm not a potter or a glass artist, because he's my "roadie," the fellow
responsible for packing the car with all the gear we need for setting up a booth. My jewelry stock fits into
two shoeboxes for most of it, with the addition of a few fruitcake cans for bracelets and a T-bar for
necklaces. The other luggage is infrastructure: EZ-UP tent, weights, chairs, tables, display stands, textile
bag (for tablecloths and decorative and rain-stopping tent sides), "go bag" (for mirrors, clips, tape, safety
pins, cable ties, plastic and paper bags, and sundry display items), milk crate (for extra clips, rope, tarp,
hammer, tent pegs, and box of "explanatory notes" handout sheet), Buddah bag (for my lucky Buddah
figurine, display bowls, more clips, and bungee cords), sisal bag (for tools, spare materials, pens, markers,
scissors, and business cards), cooler (art shows can be thirsty work!), and a wooden rack to keep the bags
off the ground if it rains.
Do you like to shop? Does getting a good deal on an item make you feel all puffed up and pleased
with yourself?causes a catastrophe. My biggest problem is little kids who want to handle every single thing
on my table with their gooey little fingers.
Sunday's weather dawned nice and sunny, but a thunderstorm rolled in during the afternoon.
Volunteers ran around warning us that high winds were expected; I had everything packed up and Ron had
brought the car around when, of course, the sun came back out. Okay, unpack it all again, a trifle damp, but
undamaged. A friend of our wasn't so lucky; in fact, I think he might be cursed. A storm had ruined his
booth a couple years ago, damaging frames, mattes, and artwork as well. Last year, a Saturday night storm
took his booth out again, so this year he tore everything down on Saturday and set it all up again on Sunday
just to be on the safe side. But the Sunday afternoon storm wiped him out again this year, despite all his
precautions. At least, by packing it in early, he missed the traditional Black Swamp end-of-show
thunderstorm (it seems to happen this way every year) that left Ron soaked to the skin. At least it was a
Next year, maybe I'll get my article into the paper instead of writing a Crank for that week. That
would kill two birds with one stone, and give me a little more breathing room during crunch time. I'll
probably forget again until it's too late, so, if I'm not in my Corner, please check to see if there are any art
shows going on in our area. I'll probably be there, doin' that art fair thing.
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