I participated in my first juried outdoor art show this past Sunday, The Flagler Fine Arts Festival. It's location in Flagler Beach, FL is just about perfect. It is warmly sandwiched between the rolling waves of the Atlantic Ocean and the smooth salt waters of the Intracoastal Waterway at an intersection filled with a steady stream of locals, beach goers and bikers enjoying "just another day in paradise." I said to my husband, while we started to unpack the car (at 7:45AM), "what better way to spend St. Patrick's Day then out here under the warm sun and by the ocean with other artists! Even if I don't sell anything I'll be a happy camper!"
My friend and her husband arrived shortly after with their beautiful, professional tent. She makes excellent jewelry and is a pro at these shows but as she didn't plan to participate she kindly offered up her tent (THANK YOU!!). Luckily, this also included the much-needed help to set it up! It didn't take long for the four of us to "get 'er done" and after several warm hugs and numerous votes of good-lucks they left me to wrangle with how to display my works.
I pounded nails into the wood slats (behind and attached to the hanging canvas I had made for "walls") and hung two paintings. They looked greaaa....oops! No sooner were they up when down they went. Slamming face first onto the gritty ground. Apparently, their weight rolled the slats forward just enough for the paintings to slide off the nails. After scratching our heads we came up with an idea that might work, if only we had a few more items...sooo off my loving husband went to the local hardware store.
I then bunched them together on and leaning against the small card table in the back corner and took a few long draws of my now cold coffee. Then one of my art friends and "next door art show neighbor" brought out a wooden A-frame shelving unit and offered to set it up between us so I could use one side and she the other (see below). Phew! Thank you, Linda Solomon! Problem solved. Now I could sit down, right?
|My small works display shared with fellow artist, Linda Solomon.|
The steady flow of people and sporadic conversations left little time to sit anyways. I was able to sneak in a yogurt, a few bottles of water and a short trip to the public rest room and later in the day a short run around the park to say hello and see what the other artists were up to. My friend and owner of Hollingsworth Gallery, J.J. Graham, had the tent next to me and was entertaining the crowds with a painting demo which he smartly continued with for most of the afternoon. I couldn't help but to think how much easier it is for we artists to sell our work through the gallery system...even with their well-earned commission...our time is definitely better spent inside the studio then out here on the street. But I was determined to give it the college try.
|J.J. Graham - artist and owner of Hollingsworth Gallery|
demonstrates his unique approach using acrylics.
This was when I noticed a couple in my tent talking about one of my boat paintings. I gave them space. They walked away. Then they returned. Twice. I then stepped in and we talked pricing. They took one of my cards and left saying they might call me tomorrow. Oh well. It was time to close up.
Packing up seemed easy enough. Same with the tearing down of the tent. As we stood by our cars we heard who sold what and I reminded myself that I was fine with not selling anything, that it was a good test and suddenly felt how much my feet and legs were hurting. I guess it was warranted after standing for almost seven hours straight and maybe those "bored looking artists" sat down for a reason (I'm such a newbie!). I just couldn't bring it upon myself to go to the studio to unpack/unload my car and instead hobbled home to enjoy some corned beef and cabbage. And a glass of wine. Or two.
The next morning my body and brain was on slow and just around 10:30, while I was briefly out with my dog, I received a phone message from the couple I had met at the festival saying they wished to buy my large boat painting after all. I returned the call and we happily agreed I would bring it over at noon. When I brought the big painting in I noticed they had already cleared a space for it and were anxiously awaiting my arrival. And seeing that the house sat directly on the ocean and was filled with boats and sea fare, I knew this was meant to be.
|"Sea Fence" - resting in her |
|"Mill Pond (Tethered Friends)" and |
"Sea Fence" in their new home.
Afterwards, I reflected on all the work I put into this show, laughed at all the ups and downs, the "strategy" of creating all those new "small/affordable" paintings that didn't sell...and how I felt the presence of my mother with me (she spent her summer weekends doing outdoor art shows on Cape Cod for twenty years). And reminded myself that all I need to do is to keep painting for me and with passion for what I love to paint - the ocean life, the farm life, the clotheslines - because you just can't force these things. You just need to be patient, work hard at what you love, seek out new opportunities (even if some seem like flops) and wait for the universe to do the rest.
P.S. A big thank you to festival Director, Justine Wintersmith and the city of Flagler Beach for supporting the arts and putting on these great events. While this is the only one I am able to participate in, the festivals are held on the third Sunday of every month through July. Brush on!