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First Saturday, May 1st, Recap

May 4, 2010

The heat…  the humidity… what a day in Houston this past Saturday.  We did the First Saturday Arts Market in the Houston Heights and before we can do another outdoor show in Houston, we have GOT to get a heavy duty fan.  A neighboring vendor had a great one, and was kind enough to let me go over and stand in front of it occasionally.

We arrived a bit too early, and finally got our space pinned down around 9am, which meant we felt the need to hustle through setup.  By the time the show actually started, I was soaking wet.  Fortunately, in Houston, that’s expected, so visitors weren’t surprised.  Changing into a dry shirt would not have made any difference.  The forecast called for the possibility of scattered thunderstorms, so we hung all the side curtains and rolled them up, thus we were ready for anything.  As it turned out, we never got any rain.  It was also supposed to be windy, but that didn’t happen either, so the occasional light breeze that blew through was a welcome moment here and there throughout the day.

We had been offered a great spot by Mitch Cohen, the show’s promoter.  This show is set up in a parking lot between two galleries, with a row of tents against each building, and two rows of back-to-back tents in the center.  The aisle is a U-shape that runs from the street down one side between the booths, and back up the other side back to the street.  We were straddling a double booth space along the top of the “U”.  We set the booth up to take advantage of the traffic flow from all directions, and we couldn’t be missed by anyone.  The attendance at the show was somewhat better than it has been the last couple of months, and we did get quite a few visitors in the booth.  And, because of the openness of the booth, people didn’t feel crowded or rushed while they were there.

Into The Woods, 8x10, Gouache

We sold one painting, “Into The Woods”, to a very nice lady.  We thoroughly enjoyed the pleasant conversation with her as she carefully selected this piece from several that really interested her.

We are debating what to do about the summer shows at the Arts Market.  June, July and August are night shows, scheduled that way to entice people to come out in the Houston heat.  But the setup for them starts at 3 o’clock in the afternoon.  Maybe it’s age, but that heat has really become a killer for us, and we’re just not sure if we’re up to it.  The same booth location would be good, and if we could find a place to put one of those big fans in that space, well… we’re still just not sure.  And the economics of it are becoming a major factor as well.  We don’t know if the dry sales spell we’ve been experiencing has finally broken or whether people will continue to be very, very cautious about what they buy.  I’ve said before that because my art is traditional landscapes, as opposed to more decorative art (which seems to sell more easily), we need a pretty large crowd in order to have that small percentage who might buy what I do.  This is our fourth Houston area show this year, and we’ve sold one painting there.  The cost of making this trip is adding up to the point where it’s becoming less smart from a business perspective.

Nell and I talked on the way home about some things we still want to do to tweak the booth, no matter what shows we do.  It looks good, but we still want it to look even better and more professional.  Things like better, less obtrusive tent weights (those black sandbags that we bought with the EZ-UP are useless – they started falling apart after about 10 shows, and the coffee cans filled with Quikcrete are just ugly); black drapes (that won’t wrinkle when folded and stored) to cover the tables and stored tubs, and maybe a banner at the back of the booth.  We enjoy this show, the music and the people.  And we know we add something to the show.  But sometimes that just may not be enough.

We’ll see.

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