Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Herding Cats

I've been really, really busy, you wouldn't believe how busy.
I'm working on it.
My pieces aren't ready yet.
I'll get you the information you need in a few days, I promise.
I didn't know there was a commission.
Is it that time already?
Can I have a few extra days?
And the list goes on. These are just a few of the responses the artists have given me as the deadline approaches (tomorrow) for them to get me their titles and prices of their artwork. The Annual Alaska Botanical Garden Fair and Gala is coming up next week and I have begun to herd cats as the Outdoor Art Show Coordinator. I have volunteered for a few years now in the position. All of the deadlines and dates were clearly stated in the Artists Participation letter, e-mails, and on the invitations that were sent out. I even sent out regular e-mail updates. This year the list of artists participating in the Outdoor Art Show were included "by invitation" to participate, rather than by an open call. This year's "by invitation" format was more efficient compared to assembling the juried committee, but has not helped me to get the information I need on time. Artists are still artists and "last-minute-late" seems to be the pace year after year. 

The extremely popular, weekend Garden Fair is now preceded by a Thursday evening fundraiser called the "Midsummer Gala in the Garden." The Gala features Outdoor Garden Art and Sculpture works for sale, a silent auction, live music, incredible hors d' oeuvres & libations. Families are encouraged to co
me to the Gala because the Garden put together a special children's program that includes dinner for the kids and entertainment. The kids are kept busy so the parents can socialize, eat, drink, have some adult time and BUY ART! It's a great format. Tickets to the Gala are $50 per person or $100 per family and the weekend admission to the Fair is $5.

This "last-minute-late" pace artists keep can be frustrating for all of the event coordinators, especially the accounting, planning and marketing people. I volunteer to coordinate, site-place the art, create an artists brochure and all of the signage for the Show. I enjoy doing this and the whole family LOVES to go to the Gala 
and Fair. It's become a standing commitment on our family calendar. Many of the artists are annual participants because the venue is beautiful as well as unique. Plus, we normally have a 80% sell rate, and most of those sales occur the first night at the Gala. There is a minimum $300 retail price on the works to participate and works usually average $1,500. I'm keeping my fingers crossed that Gala and Fair patrons are feeling supportive of the Garden and artists again this year. 50% of the sales price benefits the Garden, which is up from the 35% commission that was taken last year. The Garden is a non-profit and had to make the increase in commission on advice from their tax professional. The increase was responsible for a couple of artists choosing not being able to participate for financial reasons but others have adjusted their prices accordingly.

So far, I have received one artist's information and more promised their information is coming. To be "fair" I am still working on one of my three pieces for the Show. The "Garden Mermaid" was finished yesterday and I'll have my final piece ready by this weekend. Working right up to the last minute is routine but I can assure you that I'll have my titles, prices and descriptions ready by the deadline I set, no excuses. 


cookingwithgas said...

What fun you all are having there. Lot's of things going on in your area- but good luck with those "cats" they will keep you very busy and very CRAZY!
Love the mermaid I am from Norfolk Va. and they have them all over the city. Some are wonderful and lots of fun.
Now- go get those cats!

Gary Rith Pottery Blog said...

I might be in LOVE with the garden mermaid...

Linda Starr said...

A garden mermaid with red (copper) hair how beautiful she is. I would procrastinate too, but the price, title and description is the easy part, making the work is the hard part. Sounds like a wonderfully fun event, I'd love to be there, to see the art and the gardens.

Cynthia said...

I am one of those last minute people myself despite my better intentions. Though I have to say it never involved keeping someone else in a bind. It just makes me crazy.

This will be the first year that I haven't participated in the Summer Art Market organized by the Art Student's League of Denver. It's very well run - but they do have some serious deadlines. Failure to meet them mean forfeiture of your booth space. They can do this, however, because there is normally a waiting list for booths.

I will be visiting this year as a spectator only - one of my good friends has a booth. I'm curious to see how many artists are there and if it's less crowded than year's past.

At any rate, best of luck to you getting your info back to you and good for you for taking on the coordinators job.

cindy shake said...

Hi Meredith- I bet there are lots of cool mermaids in Norfolk! I thought she would look fun "swimming" above the Peony beds, which are about 4' -5' tall

Thank you Gary :o)

Linda you would LOVE the Garden. I will post some pictures. I was thinking of you and your lovely gardens yesterday as things are starting to bloom up here and I was setting my sprinklers, and what a job you must have trying to keep everything watered!

I think you hit the key phrase Cynthia, "not putting someone else in a bind." We all can be last minute, but I don't think the artists understand how tight the deadline is to get everything proofed and to Kinko's. We'll see, today is the day and two other artist's e-mailed me late last night :o) The good thing is it always works out.

Patricia Griffin said...

They are SO LUCKY to have you. I hope the event goes well. It sounds wonderful. Wish I could come see!

Alaska Allison said...

Your work just gets more and more amazing...and I'm not sure how that is possible. I wish you were closer so that we (Nick, my boyfriend, and I) could get our hands on some! Speaking of that...what do I have to do to get my mom that mermaid?! Her favorite "creatures"? daughter's as well :)