Monday, August 22, 2011


Have you ever wondered what the life of a traveling artist like me was like?  You can read about my experiences in this blog.  Up until his death in 2006, artist Dale Walters wrote an entry in his travel blog nearly every night.  His website is still online here.

I will not be able to post as often as Dale did and I am certainly not a poet, but if you are interested in this story of my travels and how I turn what I see and experience into art, you are welcome to bookmark this blog address.

About the world of Art and Craft Shows

There are thousands of artists in the United States that participate in art and craft shows, fairs and festivals.  Some 'do' 30 or even 40 shows per year, most average 7 - 20 and some "do" only 1 or 2.  I exhibit in 10 - 12 art and fine-craft shows per year.  Most artists that participate in shows also have other markets for their work such as:  gallery representation, corporate art consultants, museums, the artist's own gallery - usually at their studio, sales directly through their own or group websites, wholesale sales to retail stores, auction websites and international sales.  Art shows are not their only exhibition venues.  Most artists also participate in solo or group exhibits at Art Centers, Museums and other places where the exhibition lasts for a month or more without the artist's constant presence required.  We are a very diverse group in not only our art but also in the way we sell our art.

There are different 'levels' of art shows too.  That is, sophistication of the art and fine-craft on exhibit, from the "highest level" museum affiliated shows such as Lakefront in Milwaukee and Smithsonian in Washington D.C., the "next level" shows such as the St. Louis Art Fair, the Brookside Art Annual in Kansas City and the LaQuinta Art Festival in California, "3rd level" shows such as the Peoria Fine Art Fair in Illinois and the Oklahoma City Art Fair, to "4th and 5th level" shows and even "Loving Hands" events such as church and school bazaars.  There is room for all types of show and an audience for each.  The SOFA and Art Basel shows are different in that galleries rent the spaces at these events rather than individual artists.  The galleries choose which of the artists each of them represent to 'show' at their event.

There are different levels of 'purity' (for lack of another term) artists choose for their businesses.  Some do all the work them self, even collecting all of their materials from the woods, prairie, desert or jungle and a few even grind their own pigments to make their own oil paints.  Others do all of the art work and hire someone else to frame their paintings or drawings.  Still others create original pieces and hire companies to mass produce pictures of their paintings (giclees), numerous copies of photographs (the originals are either bytes in digital format or negatives in film format) or casts of their original 3D pieces (pottery and bronze or other metals).  There is room for all types of work, all methods of creation, as long as the artist is honest and up front about their production choices.  Most shows, certainly those in the more sophisticated levels, have certain requirements with regard to production of the work sold at their particular show.  I suggest you ask requirements of the shows you attend, and double check with the artist to be sure you are getting what you pay for.  In my own work, I purchase coils of rattan but my husband and I collect & process the palm.  I do all the creating, designing, weaving, backing, painting and finishing myself. 

So that is the world of "art shows" in a nutshell.  Admittedly, it is a generalization and not everyone will agree with me, especially with regard to which shows belong in which level, but this should give you the general idea.

I have participated in about 250 shows since 1985. 
I produce the website
I served on the Board of Directors of the National Association of Independent Artists for six years, as Board Chair for 3 years and Acting Executive Director for 2 years.  I retired from the Board in December 2009 but remain a supporting member.

For the first 20 years of my career I traveled around the country mostly alone except for the long trips to Florida and California.  My husband, Barry, joined me on those trips so he wouldn't miss the fun!  After retiring from the auto industry 7 years ago, he now travels to each show with me.  It sure is nice to have some help at set-up, load-out, erecting the tent and carrying all the display panels and large artwork! 

Now that my husband is traveling with me, we are able to take longer trips.  I can do some weaving on the road, especially while we are in Florida with his mother or California with my family.  We see loads of interesting sites along the way which I will be posting about in this blog.

I just finished reading "A Sunburned Country" by Bryson.  It is a travel book on Australia sort of, but a good story as well. He reports on unusual places and social aspects of the white Australian people, though it lacks a world of info on the Australian Aboriginal peoples.  Maybe his next book will be exclusively on that population.  Anyway, unusual sites and the true culture of a country are more interesting than the usual tours as he wrote in this book, and exactly what I intend to post about here.

Do you have any questions?  I will answer questions on this blog.  Send an email here.