The Busy-ness of Art

Booth, angled

After a busy year of making art and flitting off for a month’s printmaking in Spain, I realized it was time to pay the piper and make a little money to pay for it all, and so decided to apply for several art fairs that will take place locally this summer. And then I realized: after all these years of setting up and taking down my tent for Open Studios, I had nonetheless managed to have NEVER taken an official photo of my booth.

I needed a booth photo. I had one day. No, actually, I had one afternoon.

Off I went, after my usual morning shift working at Peet’s, to my storage place to pick up everything I would need. Tent, side walls, giant metal grids for hanging framed work, fabric covers for said grids, banner, print bins, and greeting card spinner.

Load car, drive home, unload car.

A very full car

(An aside: I can only do local shows since the combination of small van and large metal grids leaves very little room in the car for the artwork itself, let alone gear for spending any time away from home. Next round of wild and crazy spending might just include foldable wall sections.)

The first order of the day, once all was unloaded and dragged to the back yard, was finding a level piece of ground – no small task, considering the energetic digging of our local team of gophers – that would have a natural-looking background, so one could imagine the final photo was taken, perhaps, at some park, during some festival.

Then came the putting up of the tent. The marketing for art pop-up tents seems to always maintain that it can easily be done by one person. Perhaps this is true, if the person happens to be Superman. For the rest of us mortals, “easily” is not the word that comes to mind.

Putting up the tent

(Photo is of the tent in progress, not the Denver airport.)

Tent up, including the back wall, I could then hang up my banner.

Hanging up the banner

Next, the grids were tied together with computer zip ties and precariously balanced upright, then covered with fabric drapes.

Maggie helps

Maggie and Bob helped direct. Maggie says, Follow me! Put it over here! Bob approves of the banner.

Bob admires the banner

A moment of realization: my plastic white table is lovely to carry, delightful to set up, but looks like heck without a tablecloth. I often use my garish rainbow sarong for a playful booth tablecloth, but this is for a jury deciding if I look professional enough to participate in their festival. Some might like playful, some might not. A quick walk to the local fabric shop was now on the agenda. What luck! As I wandered the aisles, searching for the right fabric, I overheard a man telling a clerk that he found a nice roll of black jersey that he wanted to use for a tablecloth for a display table, and best yet, it cost only $1.99 a yard. The man and clerk looked a bit alarmed as I ran after them, but we all thought it was funny when I explained that I was looking for the exact same thing. And, luckily, there was enough on the roll for both of us.

While out, I picked up lunch, walked home, ate quickly (Bob the cat helped), and set up the table with its new tablecloth.

OK! The basic set-up was finally complete. Now, before adding any art, I did some clean-up. No art fair includes a pile of leaves; time to rake!

Raking the leaves

Insert framed art, insert prints in bins, insert cards in card spinner, insert business cards and postcards in appropriate display doodads. The final results are at the top of this post, and here:

My booth

In an ideal world, I would have started earlier in the day (darn day job!), had a swarm of helpers (darn other peoples’ day jobs!), thought more about what the angle of the sun would be after several hours of setting up, had a floor covering, had perhaps some flower pots or other ‘nice’ touch in front, had more daylight – but all in all, I’m pleased with the results.

The tent in the yard reminded me of the movies or a theater set. The final tent looks lovely, but it’s fun to step back and see all the production setup as well. Bob was hoping I’d leave the tent up permanently as a pavilion for him to relax in, but I am a mean mother and took it all down again. Last night I loaded it all back into the car, and this morning, it all went back into storage.

The tent in the yard

Next stop: applications.

Nobody ever said art was easy. Or if they did, they were wrong.

Author: Melissa

2 thoughts on “The Busy-ness of Art

  1. So, next time you undertake a project like this, ask whoever is taking the photos to help you set up! Or was Bob or Maggie doing the photography?

  2. Alas, Mr Auto-Shoot de la Camera Canon is not very strong or helpful. He just sits there until I poke him with my finger, and then he only works for 10 seconds.

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