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 beach...you 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.