Wayne's Booth

Wayne's Booth
57th St. Art Fair, Chicago

Saturday, July 31, 2010

Ann Arbor - South U Tornado Blues

Wayne set up on Church Street in the South University Art Fair area. This hip, trendy, student oriented area boasted a fine slate of artists - perhaps the best of the entire fair. The pictures above (from right to left - sorry!) document Goodtime Charlies - student mecca watering hole, the Denison Archway leading to the main campus area and the "diag" - a walkway which cuts diagonally across the original campus and is a main hang-out area. The weather was sultry and stickily hot. Set up was easily accomlished as this section of the art fair was particularly well organized and run by Maggie Ladd, but in fact there was no escape from it being hot and sweaty. We were fortnate to be living in A2 at the time, and returned to our comfortably air-conditioned home for showers and a brief relax before launching off for the party at the Pizza House.

The Pizza House not surprizingly offered a large buffet of assorted pizzas to the artists that evening. Drinks were over-priced but the food was free so hey, no complaining. Still in the postop period from a gum graft, no pizza for me as I was (and am still) on a 100% soft food diet. Although not recommended, this is one heck of a great diet plan as in 2 weeks I've lost about 8 pounds. Whatever. After Pizza House we slid over to Charlie's but the only interesting action there were the bartenders so we headed home early which was probably well-advised anyway.

Day One dawned sunny and bright, with a shimmer of full-summer humidity and heat in the air. I dropped Wayne off early and easily and returned home to convalesce as quietly as I could. Parking was going to be expensive, so returning to the fair later I elected to park a few blocks away at U of M's Luther House Cooperative - a student house where a young friend of ours is living. No problem, no hassle and only a short walk away. Wayne was making friends and making sales, and so the day was looking pretty darn good. After delivering his lunch and a coupla cold ones, I trotted off across the diag to look at what was being offered at "The Original" A2 Art Fair section just north of us.

Well, there was lots of stuff. A lot of art, some fine craft, a wee bit of crap. (Later on in the week, I toured the State Street, Liberty and Main Street areas which were more of a carnival than art fair.) Returning to South U., I found Wayne in good spirits and looking forward to the evening's premier musical performance by the MacPodz. It was a fine start to a fine fair. As usual, disaster was lurking just around the corner, but that's for the next post.

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Grueling Grand Haven

Grand Haven was our first show that was not a local production. It was a run by a company out of Florida, which could explain why, for the entire art fair, there was only one staff person and one non-paid assistant. Load in was intense: if you did not arrive at 5:00 in the morning, there was no chance at getting your vehicle close to your booth. So, our late arrival at 6:45 resulted in a mad 2 hours of schlepping EVERYTHING, one thing at a time, from a parking lot to our booth space. This was not a straight shot either, it involved stairs and weaving in between other booths. We worked furiously to get the tent up, get the artwork in and hung, price and label it all, and were almost ready when 10:00 rolled around and the show "opened". Exhausting.

The good things about Grand Haven: it is quaint, the downtown full of cute shops and restaurants. The Queens Cup race was coming in, and it was great fun to watch the beautiful sailboats arrive. The most beautiful was a Cal-40, whose friendly crew was happy to chat about their race. The entire waterfront area was a lovely park with shady trees and clean restrooms. It was mostly sunny and very warm. There was a darling group of 4 elderly ladies who not only gushed about Wayne's work but also purchased some. They were so cute and gutsy: they had all gone on a big trip to Italy last year and were now thick in the planning stage of their upcoming trip to Australia. Adorable.

The best thing about Grand Haven: The Theatre Bar and the bartender, Brian. If I can, I will have one of my kids get Brian's picture out of my phone and onto the computer. This is a skill that is beyond my poor mortal talents at this point. The Theatre Bar is a slot bar between two other bar/restaurants that are all located in what used to be a theatre. The service was excellent, the prices unbeatable, free popcorn at Happy Hour and the World Cup on the television. Our last night in GH we cooled off in The Theatre Bar with a coupla cold ones, and an entire wedding party came in. They were jovial and fun, and let us join in their celebration. A+ time in the Theatre Bar.

The worst things about Grand Haven: (in no particular order)
1. The Coopersville Rodeway Inn and the manager, Mr. Patel, who scammed an additional $20 in cash from us in addition to the room fee because he would not let us check in otherwise. Boo.
2. The tornado watch/warning Sunday morning.
3. The people who, although apparently were quite wealthy, were not really interested in buying art.
4. The organizers, who failed to realize that the artists needed WATER. Honestly, no water was provided. What?
5. The schlepping in and out of the booth space.
6. The long drive home after a long weekend of exhausting work.
7. Although The Dudes got a lot of attention, for the first time, they did not sell. Any number of adolescents worked on their parents in their attempt to acquire The Dudes, but the parents held firm. TL2OW just wasn't with us on this one.
8. The general attitude of folks from Grand Haven/Spring Lake/Grand Rapids that was expressed by one person to Wayne in the following statement; "I just HATE Ann Arbor and that whole left-wing, liberal eastern part of the State!" Hmmm, wow, and you are saying this to an artist who makes his home in A2? The only possible response is silence. No sales there.

In sum, it was a wash. Wayne made a small profit, enough to pay for the unending work on the trailer. And, after doing all the accounting this morning of receipts versus expenses, we have just about broken even. Almost.

The good news: we live in The People's Republic of Ann Arbor. The A2 Art Fair should be outstanding. Our expenses will be just about zero (although the booth fee was steep), and so we can look forward to pure profit! Wayne is happily making new pieces. We keep learning and the prospect of the Ann Arbor show, Art On The Rocks, Charlevoix and Green Bay Art Street yet to come is promising. The weather here is glorious, and the City of Ann Arbor is celebrating summer with nightly free concerts. Don't you just love left-wing, liberal cities?