[singlepic id=243 w=320 h=460 float=left]I know, I know, how many times can I seriously make a news item out of Sun Valley? It's been on the schedule for eight months already. But that was for pastels. I just found out I will be bringing both pastels and oils to Sun Valley this year. Hooray! As for part two of my latest art fair news post, I will once again be appearing at Artfest here in Spokane. (I'll have both mediums with me here as well.) Artfest is the one that started it all for me. It was my first and only fair the year I started down this road, and it was the one that I had visited year after year wishing I could find some way to exhibit. When I first started attending the show as a guest, I saw very little 2-D art. It was mostly fine crafts, photography, and maybe a few paintings here and there. Even people I knew as painters usually showed some other body of work.
I really, really wanted to be in an art fair. I wanted to make a display, set up a tent, be outside, and sell my work. But what work?
Although I had been working in pastel for years by the time I started going to Artfest, I never saw anyone else showing them there. I kept trying to think of something I could make that would fit in. I thought of and dismissed several ideas. One of those ideas, handmade fabric dolls with heads and hands of first papier mache, then porcelain, actually (almost) got off the ground. I made at least half a dozen before giving it up as impractical (and not fun). Not exactly a booth full.
Then, maybe six years ago, making the rounds at my summer show, I saw something that changed the course of my whole art career: A pastelist. At Artfest. Showing pastels! That pastelist was Casey Klahn, and I happened to meet him several months later. He shared his experiences as a pastelist doing fairs, and I was encouraged to give it a try. The following spring, I applied for the first time---and was wait listed. I had no idea the level of competition there was for art fairs, even the small local ones. I had chosen slides of pieces I had on hand, and at the time I didn't have a huge, super-coherent body of work. The best of what I did have was in galleries, unavailable. I learned my lesson, and the next year submitted my absolute best work. I got in to the show and loved it every bit as much as I thought I would.
Now every year I start my season with Artfest. It's such a nice, easy beginning---if I am rusty after the long months off, whatever I forgot is just a few minutes away. Quite possibly the best day of the year for me is the Thursday before the show starts, setup day. My mom helps me out, and we take our time and make a day of it. Seeing everything all put together again, with a booth full of new art and the potential of the whole season ahead, is one of the best feelings I know.