02 03 The World in Relief: A tale of travels, tents and travails 04 05 15 16 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 31 32 33

A tale of travels, tents and travails

I have not been blogging for the past month because I embarked on the adventure of outdoor art shows. This year I applied to many shows and I’m trying them out to see just where my art is best received.

I attended the Broad Ripple Art Fair at the Indianapolis Art Center, Summerfair in Cincinnati, and the Art Fair on the Square in my hometown of Bloomington, IN. I spent lots of time talking with people, and found a home for some of my work. What I found most interesting was people’s lack of knowledge about printmaking. Either people had done some printmaking, and knew exactly what it was, or they had no idea, and thought my work was painted, airbrushed or computer generated.

I experimented with different ways to get people to talk with me about my art. I had a sign that read, “What am I looking at?” Another sign read “hand-pulled original prints” which some people reacted to, although I fear they were thinking of a hand-pulled draft beer. I always had the “final” block from one of my prints for them to touch. Some people were willing to ask questions, but many more were not. As I complete the year, I may experiment with some photos from my studio.

My tent at the Broad Ripple Art Fair before the thunderstorm.
One thing that all three shows had in common was the tremendous effect the weather had on attendance and I presume on purchasing. Broad Ripple in May had a massive thunderstorm where I was unable to fully zip the front of my tent. Summerfair in early June had temperatures in the upper 90s, and this must have kept people away. Those who were looking seemed just too hot to enjoy anything except an Italian ice, and I sympathized. The fair in Bloomington began with more morning thunder and lightning as the show opened for set-up. We had to wait until pretty close to the opening for the danger to set up the tent. Yet none of my experiences compares to those who attended the Columbus Arts Festival, where thirty-two artists had their tents destroyed. One seasoned art fair veteran told me that with outdoor shows, you have to be prepared to lose everything.

One of the highlights of these shows was meeting other printmakers and seeing their work. I met Lisa VanMeter, Melissa Nees Hauger, and James Hubbard, all students at the Indianapolis Art Center’s printmaking program. Sylvia Pixley was also at Broad Ripple with her detailed engravings. At Summerfair I especially enjoyed the abstract photographs of Michelle Herlli and the Japanese-inspired printmaking of Ginger Wankewycz.

I have two more outdoor shows this fall: The Fourth Street Festival of Arts and Crafts in Bloomington, and The Penrod Arts Fair in Indianapolis. Let us hope the art fair gods will be a bit kinder with the weather. Then I have the fall and winter to consider my experiences and where to go from here.

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