As I watch the last last leaves fall off the birch trees in our backyard and the fall color give way to shorter days, it’s hard to believe that 2014 is coming to a close. This last year has been extremely busy for me, both personally and professionally. I had every intention of stocking up on massive amounts of pottery well before the summer art fairs began, in order to give myself a little free time this summer. But finishing up the last of my post-graduate education for teaching took up a ton of of my time early in the year, leaving only a couple months to start prepping. Needless to say, a relaxing summer didn’t really pan out.
This year, I applied to nine shows in Minnesota and Wisconsin, figuring I would only get into five or six. But, much to my wife’s chagrin, I ended up getting into all nine, and tackling eight of them. Needless to say, I probably won’t be doing that many shows again. (Queue the collective, “Yeah right, Steve.”)
My goal each year when applying for shows is pretty simple: try to get into the best possible shows that I can. These aren’t necessarily determined by size, but it’s hard to find a better show than Uptown, which brings in close to 400,000 people, or the Edina Art Fair and Madison’s Art Fair on the Square, which both bring in more than 200,000. One great smaller show I participated in for the first time this year was the Stockholm Art Fair, which has a rich history of great art buyers. (If you’ve never been to Stockholm, WI, you have to check out this great little river town, famous for its film festival, art fair, and pizza farm!) There are only 66 people that live in the town, but for this one day show, they pack their park with about 20,000 people. I was really excited to be able to participate, since this show is super competitive and getting juried in next year is certainly not guaranteed. Other shows I participated in included the Eagan Art Fair, Oconomowoc Festival of the Arts, Fall into the Arts Festival in Edina, and the Lakeville Art Festival.
The decision to do a loaded schedule with all large shows proved to be both a blessing and a curse and definitely made this a memorable summer. I’ll always remember that this was the summer that I got in way over my head and had to work 12 hours most days to try and keep up. Creating new designs and coming up with a new green glaze created considerably more demand than I anticipated, so I always felt like I was playing catch up for each show. The most memorable example of last second preparation came from the Uptown Art Fair. After the show was over at 8 on Friday evening, I rushed home and glazed a whole load of pots until after midnight. Those pots were then unloaded early Sunday morning, and I ended up selling the entire load of pots that I would have otherwise not had for the show. In fact, for most shows, I was unloading pots as I was packing up the truck to get to a show. Talk about overbooking myself. Despite all the work, I have no complaints, as all of this not only tested my limits, but also justified my purchase of the second kiln. (I cannot imagine what I would have done without it this year!)
For me, after a lot of solitary time in the studio, the best reward is showing off everything I’ve done at the art fairs. I love getting out and talking to people, enjoying the weather, looking at other people’s artwork, and, of course, talking to customers and getting feedback about my work. Some highlights from shows include: nearly selling out of work at Madison’s Art Fair on the Square; traveling to Oconomowoc, Wisconsin for the first time and staying with a wonderful host family that took us for an evening boat ride to watch fireworks in the picturesque little town; and winning 2nd place at the Eagan Art Fair and Best of Show at the Fall into the Arts Festival in Edina.
School is now in full swing, and I’m almost done with a quarter of the year teaching pottery at Prior Lake High School. I sort of learned my lesson from a busy summer and did actually turn down some fall events, but I still have three more great events this year, including one new one. Earlier this year I was contacted by Bachman’s to be a part of their first ever “Artist’s in the Garden” sale at their store on Lyndale, and it’s happening this weekend (Nov 8 & 9) from 10-4pm on both days. The next two events will be in December. I’ll again be taking part in the Gifts in the Gallery show at the Bloomington Art Center from Dec 9-23, and of course, Michelle and I are also hosting the annual Home Studio Sale on Dec 6th. Like in years past, I’ll have discounted “seconds” available for sale and a packed house full of pottery (not to mention lots of wine and appetizers). As always, if you can’t make it to any of these events and you’d like to schedule a studio visit, let me know and I’m happy to accommodate you.
Thanks for a great 2014! Hope to see you soon.