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April 12, 2010

Altering the words of a James Taylor song just a bit… “I’ve seen wind and I’ve seen rain…”, describes part of the day at the Cross Creek Ranch Art Festival in Fulshear, Texas this past Saturday.  And when I combine the Cross Creek festival with the previous weekend at the First Saturday Arts Market in the Houston Heights, I’m reminded of the old Hank Williams tune: “I’m so lonesome I could cry…”.

To get past the Arts Market in the Heights quickly, I’ll just say that the crowd just wasn’t there.  Some of the vendors did well, apparently, but as I’ve said on other occasions, our buyers obviously stayed home.  It was a beautiful day, and as always the Market was well publicized by Mitch Cohen, the organizer.  The music by Westbound was outstanding.  John plays a mean guitar and Rebecca has a sultry voice and knows how to use it.  Aside from their own great original music, they did a lot of old and new, including a great rendition of Janis Joplin’s “Bobby McGee”, an old favorite of mine.

The booth looked good.  The art looked good.  The crowd just wasn’t there for us.

The Cross Creek Ranch Art Festival this past Saturday started with a surprise (although we’ve learned to never be surprised).  As we arrived at the venue, it was starting to rain.  70 to 80 vendors driving in, unloading, driving out, and setting up in a parking lot in the rain must have, to a bystander, resembled an old Keystone Kops movie.  For those of you too young to remember, go here: http://ckuik.com/Keystone_Kops .  Of course, we had the trailer, which made it even more fun.  I’m getting pretty good at backing up and maneuvering it in tight quarters.  We got set up with the wonderful help of our son-in-law Scott.  The rain kept starting and stopping and drizzling, so we put up the side curtains.  Once the rain started letting up, the wind began to blow.  And it did blow.  All day.  We ultimately took down all the side walls except for the one facing the wind.  That kept the wind from hitting the display panels.  Unfortunately, it also took away at least three display walls.

I cannot write this recap without mentioning Paul Sanchez.  There have only been two times in my memory when the work of an artist almost brought tears to my eyes when I stood in front of it.  I walked into Paul’s booth and just stood in awe.  His graphite pencil drawings are absolutely magnificent pieces of art.  Because I worked in pencil for so many years, I know what goes into such work.  Trust me, the images on his website don’t do the work justice.  This man is a master: http://www.simplyartistic.com/gallery/PencilWildlife/index.asp .

We had a great spot.  I had laid out the booth specifically for this spot, which was on the end of a row, with three open sides.  My great plan was to have L-shaped displays on each corner, which would have greatly increased our normal display space.  But we ended up using far less.  It would have been a great display, allowing people to see the art from the outside as the strolled toward us.  So much for great plans.  We still had a good display, but unfortunately the crowd wasn’t what we had hoped for.

In all fairness, some people did have a good day, according to their Facebook comments.  But the people I talked to as I walked around in the afternoon weren’t selling much.  Along with a lot of nice compliments, we had lots of tire kickers, a few “be-backs”, and one or two who really looked long and hard at a couple of pieces… and we ended up only selling two of Nell’s little mini florals.

We really need a large crowd in order to get that small percentage who are interested in traditional, realist landscapes, rather than abstract, graphic, or decorative, art.  It had nothing to do with promotion or advertising.  Mitch Cohen did a great job, as did Cross Creek Ranch.  The crowd just wasn’t there, and we need the crowd.  We continue to be convinced that it takes the right person, standing in front of the right picture on the right day, willing to spend the money.  For whatever reasons, we just haven’t had those lately.

It’s a tough job, but somebody’s got to do it.

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