Chapter 10: Outdoor Art Shows
I recently attended the Gasparilla Festival of the Arts with my Creative Pinellas mentor, Rocky Bridges. Rocky had exhibited in this show for many years. Despite a challenge finding the festival’s new location and parking, it was an excellent high-end show in a lovely new location on the Hillsborough river.
Many years ago, I gave the outdoor show circuit a try, first with furniture and lamps, then with wire sculpture and mixed media. I could not get into any juried shows in the Tampa Bay area. I used the three-strike rule…if I applied 3 years in a row and couldn’t get in, I gave up. I did, however, get accepted to juried shows on the east coast of Florida, including Miami Beach and West Palm Beach, as well as in the northeast, in Rhode Island, Connecticut, and New York City. I attributed this to the nature of my work (a little edgy).
The furniture and lamps became very cumbersome to transport and were easily damaged in bad weather. When I switched to wire sculpture, I had trouble displaying it so it would show up well outdoors. I can’t tell you how many times I heard from visitors to my booth “wow, that’s a great use for coat hangers!” I explained countless times, many times to that “deer in the headlights” look, that coat hangers when taken apart were short pieces of wire and not nearly long enough to create my one-line sculptures.
Back when I was selling lamps, I had a lamp made from a manikin leg that had toes. I had the toes in a bed of sand and created a custom lamp shade; the lamp was called “Toes in the Sand”. I can’t tell you how many times I heard versions of the “Christmas Story” movie when I showed that piece!!! I was so thrilled when it finally sold so I didn’t have to hear that story one more time.
All in all, my work did not sell well outdoors and I lost a lot of money on show fees and travel expenses. Not to mention the grueling amount of work. But each show was a unique experience I will never forget!