Monday, June 30, 2008

Happy Birthday, Jackie Sue

Talk about back in the day....this was really back in the day. In case you don't know my cousin Jackie Sue, she is the one without the shirt, standing next to Ricky B. who is balancing on a tricycle...wonder what kid he knocked over to get it, or from who's yard did he steal it? To her left is cousin Kay and I am the one who is overdressed sitting on the step. Looks like they were playing dress-up and I didn't get the memo. Kay must have been a prom queen and Jackie, Wonder Woman or Super Girl?

Today is Jackie's birthday. I remember celebrating her birthday with a cook-out at Ritter Park where her mother and father grilled hotdogs and hamburgers. We had a blast! Remember the hot ice? What was that about?

Have a great birthday, Jackie Sue!

Friday, June 27, 2008

Art in the Park: Part 1- The Shoppers

Last weekend was my 5th Art in the Park. I started this "adventure" last year knowing absolutely nothing about exhibiting in art shows. I must like it because I keep going back. It's really a wonderful feeling when someone likes and actually wants to buy your work. Sometimes I feel guilty about charging $12 to $15 for one of my matted 8X10s, but then I quickly remind myself about the expenses of the classes, equipment and supplies. That price is fairly inexpensive compared to street artists in New York on Columbus Avenue. It is a lucky artist who can make a living "doing art." Dare to dream.

I've noticed that I have become more and more confident with each show. I know my photography is good..not great, I just don't know if the "general public" agrees. I can almost tell when a visitor enters my tent if he or she is going to make a purchase. One thing I know for sure is this: when a person walks into my tent with a camera around his neck, he is not going to buy. These people want to talk. I admit it, I've done it myself. They usually want to ask me about my equipment and say "where did you take that shot?" I've learned to be vague in my replies. They seem to accept what I say, thinking to themselves, "I know I can find that dune in Cherry Grove," or "I know just where that house is in Charleston."

One young couple who came to the park on Sunday was putting a lot of thought in their purchases. The young woman chose an image of a chateau that I shot in Provence last spring. As they were paying, I told them about the location and she laughed and said, "he said he knew just where that house is in Charleston!" Poor guy. I wish I knew where that house was in Charleston before I went to France...

Then there was a golfer who was interested in one of my framed golf shots. Realizing the clubs in the image were antiques, his nose almost touched the frame. We talked about where he played golf and he mentioned that he belonged to a course where I really wanted to shoot. Because we had become chummy, I guess he thought he could ask me to come down on the price. Not a chance. He didn't have cash or a check, only a credit card. Needless to say, the transaction didn't occur. Love 'em and leave 'em.

At these shows I feel like a bartender or a hairdresser. People tell me some things I really don't want to know. I show interest. I care. I live in the South, I can't be rude. We talk about where they're from, where they're staying, what they're doing at the get the picture. One retired lady told me about her move to the beach from a city in North Carolina. Although she told me she was looking for artwork for her new home, I could see that she wasn't reaching for her checkbook. As we continued to talk and I showed an interest in her new life she found a picture that she just loved....a statue of an angel...just for her bathroom! A pity purchase. I'll take it.

Towards the end of the show on Sunday, a nice couple from Long Island came by. I could have talked to them for hours. He was a retired principal from an elementary school in Brooklyn and his wife was still working for the school system. Because my niece is teaching in that same area (a small world), I had tons of questions for him...."Why doesn't NYC buy new classroom furniture for the schools (my niece's teacher's desk is one of those old wooden ones that they used in the 50's)?", "Why don't they air-condition the classrooms?", "Why is it so hard to get students with discipline problems and learning disabilities tested?" and finally, "How can principal's get away with handing out teacher handbooks in December when it should be done before school actually starts?" Before they left, I gave them directions to nearby town where they could spend their evening observing a subculture in action. I hope they went. Bless their hearts.

These were the most interesting people who I met at this show. There were many more. I guess I'll add more as I remember them. What a hoot. I can't wait for the October show.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Art in the Park- Part 2: The Vendors

The best part of participating in an art show is meeting so many different people. ..not just the "shoppers," but the other vendors. I have gained so much useful information from them, such as, how to attach my banner to the front of the tent (use a bungee cord), how to keep the top of the tent from flying off in heavy winds if you don't have weights (use big-time clips), how to zip up the sides when you leave so the street people won't use your tent as a hotel room (still can't get the front zipped) and on and on.

The first new vendor who I met was Milan. Milan is a hat-maker. Before she got serious with her hats, she was a psychotherapist.. Really. Her frustration began when a local police department decided that jail was the best therapy for some of her clients. After being slapped in the face over and over, not by the police or her clients, but the "system," she turned to hats. Very cute. Milan told me about several art and craft shows in our area that are, in her opinion, worth entering.

Across from my tent and down two, was who I would describe as an "elite artist." Her paintings were breath-taking. Okay, I exaggerate, but she was major league talented. Being a bit pricey, her work was tad overpriced for the tourists just out for a leisurely stroll on a pretty weekend at the beach. I just think that people need to think seriously about making a major purchase like a painting. I bet she won't be back.

Then there was a couple from east Tennessee to my right. Usually Mr. Henry is in the corner spot, but June is too hot for him. He'll be back in October. So on Sunday while I was tapping my foot with my hand on my hip patiently waiting for the throngs of tourists and locals to appear with cash, lots of cash, I started talking to my new friend. He was an absolute hoot. This is what he does. Art and Craft shows are his life. He makes cute wooden sculptures with solar lights for people to strategically place in their yards. He decorates them with various and sundry animals and uses moss as an added touch. Some folks call it YARD ART. It sells. He said he won't be back.

Don is a photographer who lives near the beach. He can shoot from Charleston to Ocean Isle whenever he wants. He does every Art in the Park and many other shows in the area. Most all of the photographers who I've met are willing to share their knowledge of photography and many of their experiences. Don is one of them. He shoots digital like I do, so when he talks shutter speed or aperture, or even point and shoot, I listen.

Finally, there was a newcomer from the Charleston area. He doesn't shoot digital, only film. Another thing, only black and white, and trees, only trees. That's great if everyone likes pictures of trees. He displayed a HUGE picture of a tree and priced it at $1000. Didn't sell. Interesting point- didn't use glass, used plexiglas. Said it was more expensive but lighter in weight and discouraged fading. Don't think he'll be back either.

"Tent professionals," this is what Tom, my guru calls them, are an interesting group. Not only are most of them artists, but to sell their art they need to know a little merchandising and marketing, with a touch of PR thrown in. Do you know how hard it is to engage a tourist in a conversation who has tattoos and piercings all over his body, and at the same time really, really, hope that he won't want to buy an 8 X 10 of my sister's Western Flyer that I shot at 8:00 in the morning on a cold fall day on the beach?