The Bucktown Art Fair
I will admit I was in a lousy mood for the early morning set-up on Saturday. Perhaps it was the nightmare- just before I woke- that someone stole our newly purchased (used)Mini-van loaded the night before with all the art fair stuff?
Everyone seemed a bit grumpy and “off” and I can only blame the humidity that lifted mid-afternoon. Or maybe Mercury finally moved all the way out of retro-grade- whatever that means. The artists were pretty much on their own for parking management made even more complicated because after 9 or so, stages and things began to be set up and routes became even more limited. I ended up parking on a nearby street despite free parking provided for the artists at a slightly farther away school.
I was assisted in unloading by a friendly and cheerful (and strong!) volunteer and that went a long way toward making me feel welcome and supported.
Check-in was not advertised and only the sight of other artists striding past with a plate full of muffins and bagels and a banana and a glass of OJ notified us of free food Saturday morning (only). When I checked at the info booth, I was given a small info packet and (best!!) a free little black apron with pockets. What a useful freebie! Thank you Bucktown!
At any rate, I was ready for my uneven site, having scoped it out a few days before. We brought a few bricks and boards to level things out as well as the shims that we always carry; but I was still feeling sorry for myself until I saw what other artists had to contend with and I had lots of shade! If you get a spot in the park, come prepared for very uneven spots. The guy next to us moved because his site had a lot of really bad tree roots sticking up-I think I’d be most worried about customers tripping on them!
The fair opened at 11 which seemed luxurious in light of the morning set-up. We had arrived about 7 :40 and were all set by 10. However, I did not make my firs sale until 1:30 so I was relieved to find that this seems to be a fair that just doesn’t get cooking until late afternoon.
This is a NOISY art fair and is also packed with kids and dogs. There are a lot of really terrific shows for the kids and also a kid’s activity tent where my son spent most of his time. When he wasn’t there, he was constructing this.There is also a great playground and a city pool- though I didn’t notice if they closed that for the fair. If you have kids, this is a terrific fair to keep them happy- it’s also very contained so they are less likely to get lost or go far.
My ponderings as I waited to sell anything and then as I waited to “break even” was: perhaps not every fair is the right fair for me even if I get in. Maybe this is too young a crowd; do they want trendy? Or are they just wandering around looking at stuff to entertain themselves. No one was carrying any purchases- this is something artists look for. If someone drags a bunch of bags into your booth, you feel optimistic!
Then, after people began to buy things I decided that my best work always sells. When I mentioned this to my husband, he asked me what percentage of my work is my best work I guessed perhaps 30% of what I create? Don’t get me wrong- and you artists know this; the work I put out is all “good”. It’s technically sound and attractive but there are always those pieces that, when you pull them out of the kiln, you say, “ah, that’s a nice one.” You might even be tempted to keep it- some, the very best, you do. You can’t quite bear to let them go. We know which pieces those are.
At any rate, my day picked up so that by the 7 o’clock closing time, I was relieved and felt I had not made a mistake in participating in what I think, is a lovely little fair.
The next day, again, I did not make a sale until well after noon and, this being my last fair, I put out everything in my bins. I wanted to just get rid of it! Surprisingly, I sold a lot of older work- one vase I was so sick of, I just gave it away with the purchase of a larger vase. It was a great day and this turned out to be a terrific fair- definitely the RIGHT fair for me!
The day ended at 7 again although sales ended about 6 pm. And the load-out in the dark kind of sucked. Every one was tired and there was even less space (tents and stages still up) and less traffic management. Thank goodness for the van! I cannot imagine slipping in and out of there with anything larger!
Other drawbacks to this fair was that we were positioned precisely where we could hear the kid’s shows (and taped music) at exactly the same volume as we were hearing performances on the main-stage. I went home with a sore throat from having to raise my voice to be heard by friends and customers. I also think that much noise is tiring although I did find it energizing when we were packing up!
Lastly, the hike to the porta-potties was almost painful and time-consuming and then, at the end of the day, no TP was adding insult to injury. Clearly I’ve been spoiled in the past (most notably by Krasl).
As for artists I liked, I am loving Neil Estrick’s skilled throwing, beautiful cone 6 glazes and graceful gourd shapes. Also a shout-out to my many Lill Street compadres who all seemed to be doing well at this show.
On the way out, I saw this incredible booth but never saw what he was selling!? In looking at the map and people’s website, I think it might be Keith Skogstrum but I can’t say for sure.
All in all I think it was a great fair- if you participate, bear in mind it could be a late-starting crowd.