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First Saturday Arts Market, Houston, TX

May 11, 2009

After a real dud of a show at the Granbury, Texas convention center in April, this show in Houston was a real joy.

This was a fun show.  When we signed up to participate in this, we didn’t realize that it’s just one part of a larger event, with venues in various places around Houston’s historic Heights area.  The organizer for the Arts Market is Mitch Cohen, and he does a good job with this monthly show.  It’s small, around 35 or so exhibitors, but there are several things we like about it.  It’s in a parking lot, between two buildings, and because of the U-shaped layout, every visitor who came into the venue went past our booth.  Traffic wasn’t huge on May 2nd, but when you combine the economy, concerns about swine flu, and the fact that it was the first Saturday in a while that folks in Houston didn’t get rain (an opportunity to get their yard work done), we felt it was not bad.  We also got the impression that a lot of the visitors check the show out every month.  Mitch appears to be working hard to keep a good mix, while trying to keep the quality up.

Lots of friendly foks came through, spent some time with us, and we even sold a few small paintings.  The other vendors were friendly as well, some offering us tips.  Other artists had some nice things to say about the work, and visited with us at various times during the day.  During teardown, our neighbor behind us stopped long enough to help me get the tent closed up while Nell went to move the car.

The only real negative for us was that it was hot and humid, but that’s Houston.  I was soaking wet by the time we got done with setup, and stayed that way all day.  The solution: get a small fan or two to get air to circulate in the booth.  We learned our lesson about leaving the back wall open at the Tyler show, so this time, with no rain in the forecast, we left the back wall off to let air flow through, and visited with the neighbor behind us during slow moments.

We added a few smaller, lower priced pieces for this show, and it was a smart move.  Nell has started doing some simple, tiny floral minis, which we put in ornate tiny frames.  We had them on a table near the front of the booth, and they served as excellent people stoppers.  I had some little 4×6’s on the table as well.  We took mostly small pieces: only two 11×14’s, a dozen or so 8×10’s, and the rest 5×7’s.  My prices are low, and the mix works well for us.  I’m in the process of doing more 5×7’s, and have a larger 16×20 on the easel now.  That one will go on the back wall of the booth, hopefully to pull more people into the booth.

If it sounds like we’ve gone “commercial”, well, I guess we have.  But hey, I’m 65, and a long, successful career as a gallery artist is probably not realistic.  Besides, in another year or so, we hope to hit the road in a travel trailer, and we intend to do a lot of small, low-end shows, as well as the occasional larger one.  The goal is to travel, paint, sell paintings, see the country, and live a stress-free life as much as possible.  This little show in Houston will most likely be on our regular show list.  We truly enjoy getting feedback from visitors, and selling the art directly to the public.  For us, it’s all part of life’s adventures.

I’ve just let Mitch know that we want to do the next one, on Saturday, June 6th.  The next few shows there will be evening shows, so we’ve got to get some lights.  We’re having fun.  Hot, sweaty fun.  Setup and teardown both go a little better each time.  And we’re getting better at organizing the load in the back of the Trailblazer.  Once everything’s broken down, we can load in about twenty minutes.  And we’ve got unloading when we get home down to a 15 minute science.  Still operating in the red, but we expected that in the beginning.  We’re very optimistic.

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