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The Dan Emmitt Music and Arts Festival ~ Mount Vernon, Ohio

August 23, 2009

The arts festival gods smiled on us in Mount Vernon, Ohio.  It was hotter than we expected, but beautiful weather otherwise.  We arrived in Mt. Vernon on Thursday afternoon, checked in with family, then went downtown to see the venue.  We got our booth assignment, listened to a little old time rock and roll, and went to bed at a reasonable hour.

We set up in 60-ish temperatures at 7am Friday morning, a great pleasure compared to our last show in Houston.  We were able to back the 4×8 U-Haul trailer right up to the booth for both loading and unloading.  We had an excellent location, in a parking space almost at the center of the square, facing one of the main streets that feeds into the square.  We faced the morning sun, and had trees shading our backs in the afternoon.  We were able to use the entire 10×10 space and sat on the sidewalk behind it.  That allowed us to put up two additional panels.  We sold an unframed, matted original before the show actually started, then sat the rest of the day with very few people around, and no other sales.  It was, after all, Friday in a working-class small town.  The crowds showed up on Saturday, and we had a very busy day, then on Sunday morning it was somewhat busy, but died by mid-afternoon.  Teardown was at 5pm on Sunday.  We had great neighbors on both sides.  On one side, a super couple selling very nice pottery, who have been at this for several years, were really pulling for us, and celebrated with us with every sale we made.  They shared a lot of their show experience with us throughout the weekend.

And we sold pictures.  Eighteen of them.  9 of Nell’s mini florals, and 9 of my landscapes  (5 8x10s and 4 5x7s).  From a sales standpoint, it was a real milestone for us, and showed us that it can be done.  The big selling day was Saturday, and by the end of the day we had sold 14 pieces, made a profit on the show, and were flying high.  Sunday was icing on the cake as we sold 4 more.  The people of Mount Vernon were extremely nice to us, interested in the fact that we were from Texas, and yet had paintings of scenes that appeared to be in Ohio.  My one little nitpick would be that we saw the art organizers when we set up on Friday morning, but never saw one of them the rest of the show.  We know they were volunteers, but a little interest in us during the show would have been nice.  On the positive side (very positive), another group of volunteers came around every couple of hours with a little wagon filled with free cold drinks and snacks for the vendors.  Cold water was a big deal as the afternoons heated up.

We will continue to tweak the booth.  We have an awning, but no poles for it.  Have to get a couple of those, because we put up a makeshift awning at the back of the booth to block the overhead sun that baked us for a few hours at mid-day.  We want to add an outdoor rug or indoor/outdoor carpet as well.  The booths were set up along the sidewalk facing the streets surrounding the town square.  Our spot had a huge oil slick near the sidewalk, which we covered with a small throw rug.  And we’re going to replace the price/title cards with a darker card stock.  Those white cards stand out like an army of sore thumbs on the booth walls.  Otherwise, we felt we made a nice showing, and we will definitely do this one again next year.  Since we combined it with a visit to Nell’s family, it’s an affordable show in spite of the distance.  Now, we’ve got work to do, because we’re back at the First Saturday Arts Market in Houston in two weeks.

There are pictures below, showing a street view, as well as both day and night shots of the action in the booth.

Booth at Mt Vernon 1

Booth at Mt Vernon 2

Booth at Mt Vernon 3

Booth at Mt Vernon 4

Booth at Mt Vernon 5

Booth at Mt Vernon 6

Booth at Mt Vernon 7

8 Comments leave one →
  1. August 23, 2009 7:43 pm

    Ralph, Congratulations on the strong sales. Do you think the economy is starting to come around, or was there a good match between your subject matter and the audience. Thanks for the thorough posting. Really interesting to know what these events are like. By the way, your work looks stunning in the photos of your booth. I understand why you had so much interest.

    • August 24, 2009 12:47 pm

      I wouldn’t venture a guess about the economy, Candace. I believe when this happens, it’s simply the right person looking at a piece they like, willing to spend the money for it. I think it also helps that my prices are very reasonable. That said however, there were two other painters there, and they both sold work. One of them sold a $2,000 painting. It honestly is a crapshoot every time. Thanks for looking in!

  2. Spot permalink
    August 24, 2009 12:07 am

    No one deserves success more than you do! Your work is outstanding. Congrats! If I had been there, I would have fattened your wallet even more. Bravo!

  3. Travis permalink
    August 25, 2009 5:35 pm

    I have been following your work on wetcanvas a lot and you are one of my favorites there.
    I was wondering when participating in an event like this, do you do all the framing yourself or do you leave it up to a shop?
    I am just curious if you try to reduce the cost by framing yourself.

    • August 25, 2009 6:52 pm

      Hi Travis. Thanks for the kind comment. First, there is no way we can afford custom framing. I’m trying very hard to keep the cost low in order to keep my prices low. I often get compliments on the framing, and was asked several times during this show if I made the frames myself. I decided that I could either be a painter or a framer, but not both. Besides, when it comes to putting pieces of wood together, I’m not very handy. We watch for ready made frames on sale, and then stock up when we can. Putting the work into a frame isn’t terribly difficult. I back it with foamcore board to keep it flat, and staple it in with a staple gun, (being careful not to put the staple through the work, of course). Black foamcore gives a neater appearance, but costs twice as much as white. I started out putting dust covers on the back, but when I started retiring older pieces and reusing the frames, the dust cover became a real nuisance. Some shows and presumably most galleries require it, but in the shows we do, I find people point at a piece or take it off the wall and say they want it. Dust covers are a really nice touch, but I’ve never lost a sale for lack of it. In fact, I’ve never had a customer inspect the back of a framed piece.

  4. Steve Hull permalink
    September 1, 2009 3:44 am

    Hi Ralph, I also follow your work on Wet Canvas and like it very much. I did art shows and fairs between 77 and 95 and your photos brought back many pleasant memories of art fairs especially in Ohio. I love the town of Mount Vernon but never managed to do a show there. The covers on your stands look nice and your work shows up great. I wish you the best with your shows!

    • September 1, 2009 12:26 pm

      Nice to hear from you, Steve. Isn’t it funny how we seem to retain mostly the pleasant memories, and push the tough parts of doing art fairs to the back. Thanks for the nice comments!

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