The Kohler Midsummer Festival of the Arts 2011

We were looking forward to the Kohler Midsummer Festival of the Arts  although I will say, after Krasl last week, it would have been hard to beat. And similar to last week, not much to tell. But for those of you resarching the Kohler I will elucidate… or is it expound?

Load-in was very easy as was check in. They have a lot of very nice and helpful volunteers. We had the same spot as last year; a shady spot in front of the school.

After set up we went to the fabulous restaurant we went to last year, Il Retrovo. YUM. Unbelievably good wood fired pizza and then, truly heavenly Sea salt caramel gelato. Wow.

Back at the hotel,we thrilled to the Tour de France.

The next day I put out all the pots and I have to say, I think the booth looked really good.

I thought the day started very auspiciously when I sold my biggest showpiece, a large Octopus platter, first; but the foot traffic was low and my sales sporadic.

We also found out that our Square™ couldn’t be used because we had no reception! Luckily I still have my credit card service until the end of this month. I will have to look into how to process the cards without reception.

I had some nice people come in and look around. They were an educated group. Most of them knew what slip is and I had some good chats about technique. My son was obsessed with a nearby booth, clever and lovely puzzles by William Waite. He spent a good part of the fair over there trying to solve all the puzzles.

Saturday night we were all fed good food and awards were given. Compatriots, Judy Zeddes (print) and Sarah Chapman (jewelry) both won awards! We sat with another couple who had a pottery booth.  I had a lovely chat with Joel Huntley and Debra Huntley who makes terrific early-American inspired work. He has been making pots for 27 years and is going to sell his Pottery (the business) in Columbus Wisconsin. Is anyone interested?

After the dinner, we all walked around the museum. This is an excellent museum. Their exhibits are really thought provoking and well, good. The museum is the big treat of the weekend. That and the bathrooms. I never got tired of the bathrooms.

We all hoped for a better day on Sunday although we knew it would be hotter.

Sadly, it was worse; even though the heat was never too bad at all- every once in a while, we got a lovely cooling breeze from the nearby lake.

Sunday was disheartening because we heard things like:

“There’s a wallet store over here.”

“Naw, I’ll just order something online.”

I wish that people understood the huge amount of work that goes into the art fair. It’s not just making the work all week; but also loading the vehicle, the drive, the unloading and set up, the selling all weekend; being cheerful and informative, the take down, the long drive home and then unloading. It seems, for most of the artists at the fair, a labor of love. A choice to do this so that they can keep on with the pleasure of making the things they love to make. Still, we do like to have the work acknowledged. Clearly, we’re not doing it for the money!

There’s just so much STUFF in the world now!  Everyone is decluttering- a concept, I’m sure, that didn’t exist until after 1975. Until then, stuff was hard to come by. Now, machine-made goods have filled our houses, perverted our aesthetics,  devalued our work and numbed the public to what it takes to handmake things.  It’s alittle soul killing to have someone walk in to the booth and whine, “I have so much stuff.”  Yes!  I know! We all do! But I am a maker of stuff. I don’t know what to do – how to resolve the pull between wanting to make stuff and knowing there is  (and having) too much stuff!

So after that rant, I want to thank those many many people who do get it. Who love the scale and imperfections of hand-made things. Who appreciate the creativity and skill and who want to live with these things every day.

Another interesting set of work was by  John Woodhouse.  Judy put it perfectly when she called his beautiful wall Barns “Fine Craft”. I could look at those all day and I don’t think he sold a one.

Now I don’t want to badmouth the Kohler art fair. They do a fantastic job- it’s a great fair but for some reason their circulation was down.

This left me crabby by take-down but it went very smoothly.

The really exciting part of this whole story is that, about 30 minutes from home, at 9 pm, our car had a blow out on the highway. After making it safely to the side, we actually changed the tire ourselves. The spare had almost no air in it so I had to leave Juan and the trailer and all our stuff sitting there on the side of the expressway and went to find a gas station where I made sure I got my 50¢ worth and inflated all the tires and went back.  And then yes, we still had to unload and I had to return the trailer. Needless to say, we were beyond tired by the time we got to bed.




6 Replies to “The Kohler Midsummer Festival of the Arts 2011”

  1. I don’t do fairs in the summer because of the heat. Not only is it uncomfortable for the vendors but traffic tends to be low and non-purchasing. Was this a hot weekend?

    You’re booth does look really good.

  2. I agree with all you said about the hard work of doing a show, it certainly is a labor of love. You put into words my thoughts that I want to deny about the conflict of loving to make stuff and knowing we need less stuff..but, it should not include handmade stuff that is made by real people sold to real people…because it is a connection that is needed in this world. I like to say “enjoy your pottery daily it is good for the soul!” Dont you think so too?

  3. I heartily agree. We need less machine made stuff and more beautiful hand-made stuff. It is the human connection I think we crave. I make mugs for this very reason- I know people will hold them, start their day with them, sit with them. I really like that idea. Also elevating your experience of everyday things through beauty.

  4. Shame your experiences of the festival weren’t too good, oddly I’d been talking to some folks about what kind of weather they thought was ‘good’ for selling. They reckoned that really hot sunny weather keeps people away because they dont really want to shop in the heat.

  5. I agree! We are thinking about trying some indoor shows for just that reason- climate control.
    I just had a terrific weekend in Minnesota at the Powderhorn and it was a bit cooler.

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