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Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Stories about Festivals and Shows

Hi all.

It’s been a while since I posted on this forum. During this time I’ve started to pursue arenas where I can exhibit some my art works.

In the past I showed my works at art galleries. At some point not too long ago I read from people that know about these things who strongly suggested that anyone who wants a reasonable chance for success at art sales has to make an effort show works to a lot of people. While several people visit galleries, more people visit any festival in a day than most galleries host in weeks or months. So the advice made sense. And with this advice I started a slow dance to prepare for doing a typical festival exhibit.

There is a Yiddish proverb that reads “With time, even a bear can learn to dance.” Of course I started the dance before I learned anything about it and due to that, no doubt added more than a few steps along the way. In fact, part of what I did reminded me of building a cardboard box from the inside out.

It was a long way to go in only a few months. But before I got to the trailer, the very first obstacle I had to overcome was that I had no idea what was needed to show art to the thousands of people who attended these events.

I considered this ignorance a plus and started with a blank piece of paper, so to speak. I soon found out I’d need a couple of ledger tablets to get the plan in writing. But starting with a tabula rasa, I decided to address first things first: I already had a bunch of framed and matted works for my gallery shows. I needed my own portable walls to hang the works from. I found this awesome display system called Pro Panels, available from The panels are light weight, certified fire resistant (which is required at larger events) and can stack for moving pretty easily. They go together in in minutes, and at the end of the show come apart as easily.

I bought enough panels for a 10x10 display space, with a couple of extra panels for some options. When I ordered the panels I knew they were pretty big. They measure almost 40 inches by 7 feet. When they arrived in 3 huge boxes I realized I’d need some place to store them, and the closest location turned out to be about 70 miles away, right next to where I keep my matt board and related.

One big item ready to go.

Next I figured I’d need a bunch of lights to help show off the works. Some shopping lead me to Target where they have $10 clip on light fixtures. Of course a lot of lights in an enclosed space can get really warm and that can be less than ideal. I found some daylight color florescent lights at Home Depot. This was a double savings as they offer better light color than incandescent bulbs, plus they only consume about 1/3rd of the power (and heat) that incandescent bulbs do. Another plus is that they survive being transported pretty well. Along with the light fixtures and bulbs, I had to get a bunch of extension cords and surge strips to help plug everything in.

Once I had this big pile of electrical stuff sitting on my dining room table, the next problem was, how the heck do I store and transport it? Target provided the answer, with a 45 gallon oversized Tupperware like container with wheels on one end that they sell. The lights, extension cords and bulbs all fit in this particular container and I can stack stuff on top of it. Nice! The container has become a favorite and I have acquired, several of them so far, but had 2 of them at the time of my first show.

I now had the panels and lights so was making progress.

Another proverb I learned long ago was “If it’s too heavy to carry and too precious to throw away, you better find a way to carry it. I needed a good tool for getting stuff in and out of the trailer, easily.

Last summer I saw someone who had a nice little wagon-like cart with fat tires that were good for rolling over parking lots and gravel. The cart looked kind of like a miniature version of the brick movers people use at the Lowe’s. After shopping around with Mr. Google, I found a great contender. I made some measurements and found it would fit through standard doors. Yes! It had removable sides and ends. Yes and yes! More shopping brought me to a place that would ship it free. Another big yes! About a week later a blue beauty of a cart arrived in another big box. Once i got it out of the box and assembled, I made some minor additions so that it had a thick coating of carpet on the bottom and sides, and also bought some large diameter wood doweling to use as special handles so I could transport the Pro Panels and related without problem.

Once I had the cart ready I named it “The Shlepper.” It does an absolutely magnificent job for the Pro Panels, my many boxes of art work, and everything else that I transport from the trailer to the show, and back! I like it so much, I have though to buy another one to help the job go quicker.

Last but not least for the big stuff was to get a suitable trailer. We all ultimately lie in the bed we make and one thing one does not want to do is to have to lift stuff into or out of a trailer. Lifting is a lot of work. Not only is that hard on an old back, it is the last thing you want to add to an already busy day of setting up or tearing down an exhibit.

As it worked out a friend had recently bought a big enclosed trailer with a high ceiling and a rear ramp. He was kind enough let me borrow it (for over a month!) and it was nearly perfect for the first few shows.

The big pieces were in place and it was time to find a show.

No good comes from hurrying. Next time, the process to get into the first show at Emerald Downs.

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