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Archive for June, 2009

Omaha Summer Arts Festival 09


As mentioned in yesterdays post, the weather gods were smiling down upon us in Omaha this year. We couldn’t ask for more pleasant conditions. People were out en masse but sales were a little low despite this. But then I am always hoping for more. Whats that old saying “the gap between more and enough never closes.”

I think sales were low for many two dimensional artists. This is often the case. I think jewelers and potters still did quite well. They usually do. Here’s a hint for anyone thinking about doing art fairs and who is not limited to one artistic choice. The real money is in pottery, jewelry and clothing. Jewelry is the easiest in that it requires the least hauling and toting and vehicle space. I know many a potter who makes a good living jealously eying jewelers for their still healthy backs.

Brule’
Brule’
(Brew-Lay) was once again back which made us happy. They have participated in the Omaha Summer Arts Festival for a little over 10 years (we are at 10) but they were unable to make it last year (lucky them with the weather the way it was) due to scheduling problems. Brule’ is a contemporary Native American group (kinda like a modern day Partridge Family) headed by the father and elder Paul LaRoche. We have been within 3 booth spaces of Brule’ every year and love their music. I will talk more of Brule’ in an upcoming post.

So close and yet so far.
OSAF does an on-site jury process where those with a high enough score get pre-approved for the next year. I have been blessed to have been pre-approved pretty much every year, but never high enough to win an award. This is sort of a personal goal of mine.

One juror (there are three) came and and talked with me for a bit. She loved my work and said she gave me the maximum points allowed. I’m like “Bless You!” So I’m feeling pretty good about the possibility of a big ribbon and more importantly check (it’s like free money) in my future. Then the other two judges came around and barely peeked into the tent. (Never a good sign) The clincher was no one came by at the end to make sure that I would be attending the awards breakfast.

Note to newbie’s. Not all shows, but many give the award winners a heads up. It makes the whole giving out of ribbons and such more impressive when the winner is actually there to claim it.

And alas, my name was not called the following morning at breakfast. But I enjoyed myself thoroughly.

I’d say maybe next year I’ll get that allusive award but I am seriously considering trying a different city next year. This is a hot weekend for events and nearly every major city in a 4 hour radius of us has an event going. We’ll have to see how I feel about things next year and if I’m pre-approved. They are switching to ZAPPlication next year and so they may just through all of us in the mix again to be juried.

Another Rant

Nothing much new in regards to the festival from last year. I did take advantage of the free massages for the artists this time. (it was wonderful) I do have one complaint though. Well it is really more of an annoyance. But I will talk of that in tomorrows post.

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No Place Like Home

We’re back from Omaha. All in all it was a good event this year. Not a great event but still worth the trip.

After a very muggy Friday a cold front came through and we had a big cool down for Saturday and Sunday, which made it ideal outdoor art fair weather. With the front came a little wind and rain. I don’t know if everyone was still traumatized from the storm last year or what. But let me tell ya, the artists definitely scrambled when it blew through. Of the 135 artists at the event last year 107 took up the invitation to return. Pretty impressive numbers considering the destruction last year.

At any rate I’ll do a more in depth review of the show tomorrow. No matter how enjoyable or rpofitable it is doing these events it is always good to be home. Ahhhh.

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Heading Out

So tomorrow we leave for Omaha Summer Arts Festival. The weather looks calm, so hopefully, my nerves will be too.

I’ve been chained to my framing table so long that I haven’t done much on the painting side of things. When I get back though, I have a painting I need to get completed by the third week in July. So will be posting actual artwork soon. (do you think I could have squeezed the word “so” in any more places?)

See you all in a few. So there. 🙂

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Gallery
In many ways that is what my business is, an anomaly. It is this small gallery, in the middle of a tiny little town, in the middle of nowhere, in a very sparsely populated state. (um . . . something is seriously grammatically wrong with that sentence. I’m just sure of it.) So with the recent boon of work I’m like Whaaa?

I’m sure you are all a little tired of hearing this but we are still shockingly busy. I have worked a 10 hour day every day this week, with the exception of one 12 hour day. Currently the work load is primarily framing and printing service coming in locally and from various parts of the country.

So I’m tired but feeling totally blessed. I also know that I’m in a luxury business and who knows how long it will last so we just keep workin’ it while we can.


Trees
This is a photo of some trees growing in the family field. This year it’s in alfalfa. There are actually three trees planted. (Thaaat’s right planted in the field. No free range scrub here.) Mike’s mother planted one for each child many years ago.

This is probably considered more than an anomaly by the locals. It is probably considered downright crazy. I mean you pull trees out of the field, you certainly don’t plant them in it.

People used to occasionally ask me about the trees and why no one has yet taken them out. I usually shrugged non-committedly. Mind you I didn’t grow up in a state that is at war with free range trees and weeds. Frankly I like them (the trees that is.) And I am pretty sure they will remain in the field as long as a Majorowicz owns the ground they grow on.

Turtle
On my drive into the gallery, as I was about to cross the bridge over the creek near our farm, I see a rather large (over a foot long) Snapping Turtle by the side of the road. I pull over (as I am want to do whenever a critter is on the road) to make sure it gets safely off the road. I prodded her a bit to see if she had been hit by a car since she was hunkered down and not moving. This of course evoked a lunging snap which made me jump even though I was standing safely behind her.

So I lean in to get closer look (yes. . . still from behind) and I see she is planning on laying her eggs in the gravel on the road’s shoulder. She had dug out a deep pocket through the gravel and into the mud. So I leave her be and hope no one runs her over. Hopefully my bothering her made her move on and choose a better place than the road. I can’t imagine they would make it in that location.

Oh and how do you get a snapping turtle off the road? Sometimes you can herd them, like a very slow moving cow. But the easiest way is to get a stick, let it bite it and drag them. I think our creek has a healthy population of Snappers since I usually see one on the road several times a year. (Note to self: no barefoot wading in the creek.)

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Who's Talking About Me Now

The short answer is Louise Shimon, in her latest post (at the time of my writing this) on her blog Marion Gunderson Art (and the Farmer’s Daughter)

The Long Answer
Many many month’s ago we made prints of a watercolor painting of pumkins done by a local painter named Marion Gunderson. She had passed away a few years back and as happens quite often more than one family member liked the image so much they wanted a copy. In this case Louise, her daughter commissioned the job. When done she got her prints and went on her way.

Through a series of events (which you can find out all about on her blog) she has now had several of her mother’s paintings made into prints and is fully enveloped in a new artistic endeavor (thus the blog) for fundraising for the Rolfe Public Library. A wonderful tribute to Marion both as an artist and because Marion was the Librarian here in Rolfe (yes, Marion the Librarian) for many years.

Her new blog is a fun combination of family history and small town life mixed with her mother’s art. For me, I’m enjoying that what started out as a business relationship has turned into a friendship. I really do have a great job.

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In Art Fair Applications Part 1 I discussed the importance of using quality images in the application process. In this post I’ll briefly cover things to consider when communicating about who you are and what you do.

Perceptions of Art or Craft

There is usually a great debate around what should be considered “art.” Umm . . . I am definitely not going there. Instead I’ll comment on how the word “art” is perceived differently from the word “craft” and why that may be important to you when filling out applications.

…the word craft should be avoided completely except when talking about “craftmanship.”

The first thing is to be aware of what the connotations of the word “craft” are. In the December 08 issue of Art Calendar Magazine the article Art or Craft what’s in a name states that in their survey 87.2% felt that a finished creation was perceived as more valuable when classified as “art” rather than “craft.” 68.4% perceived “art” as having superior quality to that of a “craft.” The magazine suggests the word craft should be avoided completely except when talking about “craftmanship.

In regards to art fairs, with a very few exceptions I wouldn’t even consider an event if it has the word craft in the title. Now that doesn’t mean an event who calls itself an artfair can’t be crafty. (They can and often are) Or that a craft event can have great art. But when it is an “art & craft” fair it often attracts a different type of buyer..This is just one of the reasons that whenever possible you should attend the event as a patron before committing your cash for a booth whenever possible.

With the application process how you describe yourself plays an important role in how a jury perceives you. In the same article it tells how many artists are using broader words like “objects,” “creations” or “works” to replace more traditional descriptors like ceramics and sculptures.

The written word
It is important to be able to write (in brevity) a description of your work. The events I have applied to have requested this supporting information anywhere from under 100 words to just 3 words. (Thaaaat’s right 3. In case your curious “Equestrian & WIldlife Artist”) Something this brief is generally for inside the catalog or map information. Anywhere from 7-25 words is often read to the jury while viewing your work. The way you describe your artwork has a great impact on how it is perceived.

The way you describe your artwork has a great impact on how it is perceived.

Here’s an example: If there ever comes a time where I submit a watercolor pencil painting on suede matboard for jury consideration I would say it was “water soluble pencil on suede board” I will definitely omit the word “mat.” By doing this I am avoiding any negative associations the jury might have against matting. Suede matboard is acid free and archival (at least the kind I use is) and artists have been creating work on matboards for a very long time. Yet some may see it as not investing in proper materials.

The wrap up
The point of this post is just to get you thinking a bit about how you speak about yourself and your work. So often artists just wing it but being prepared with wordage that works helps you to come across as the professional you are.

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Customer Testimonial

This is part of a letter I received from a framing customer a couple of days back. It made me laugh out loud so I thought I would share.

John was unwrapping everything for me, while I was eating. He didn’t quite have the Roses undone and the wrapping fell off mid-bite. I dropped my fork and said “HOLY CRAP!” It was a good “HOLY CRAP!” I thanked Mary-Ellen just the other day for sending you my way. -Kathy H.

Framing and the art business
Even though I have been framing for over 20 years (my how time flies) I really don’t talk much about the framing aspect of my business. I suppose there usually is not very much to say. Of the three branches to Wild Faces Gallery (The Art, The Printing Service and The Framing) it is the framing that has the highest cost and is most labor intensive to profit ratio of all of them.

Much like the printing service, framing is something I do for my art business, so we just branched out to include it for other people. What surprises me is that I still occasionally get new non-local framing customers who ship me their framing projects from out of state. Kathy lives in a large city with dozens of frame shops and yet I am her framer now. I’ve done about a dozen projects for her in the past 12 months and she has gone on to refer me to someone else, who I have now done several projects for. Amazing.

My favorite framing story
It happens that every so often I do a project for someone which impacts them emotionally. Shadowboxing some memorabilia or preserving some family treasure.

A local person had some needlework she had done 30 years ago or so. Her kids no longer wanted them hanging in their homes and gave them back. She came in apologizing about even thinking that they were worthy of reframing. She has rheumatoid arthritis and at this point needlework was beyond her capabilities. I told her it was not my decision whether they were worthy to be reframed, but I thought they were in good shape. And despite their age they should frame up nicely. I instructed her in washing them and then reframed them for her, adding a few decorative cuts to the matting. She came in and was quite pleased. I was relieved because it was costly to reframe them and since she had reservations, I was a little nervous.

As I was helping her out to her car with the items. She turned to me, a little teary eyed and gave me a big hug. Now I’ve known this person for years but we rarely exchanged more than a greeting. A hug was a big surprise.

As we get busier I occasionally contemplate cutting the framing part of the business. But it’s those kind of moments that insure I will continue to frame.

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