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Monday, April 25, 2011

It was good, but it wasn't good

Do you see all of the people in this photo with pockets brimming with spare dollars to buy massive amounts of art? NO you don't because, in fact, there were none of those people at this festival. Especially on Friday when I shot this photo, it was pouring rain and cold all day. No people to be seen, except the fools that were the vendors trading art with each other. I just spent countless hours in the past two months making work for this festival and spent four days selling it and I am am now making about $3 an hour in wages. I am home now from Shakori Hills Grassroots Music Festival with a mind full of thoughts, some good some not so good. I am also waking up this morning on the verge of tears because when Wesley comes downstairs this morning, she will be my eighteen year old daughter. OK, as I type this I have officially started crying about it. How is it possible that she turns 18 today?
This photo was shot on Saturday, when I actually made the kind of money you should make on a day at a festival, but that is the only day I sold anything, including one of my more expensive barns. Mostly people were doing what you see here, sitting, eating, drinking and listening to music. Also, I have come to learn that there are massive amounts of people that are now enjoying the trend of medical marijuana, and designating themselves as caregivers so they can grow their own plants. If only I could open up a coffee shop/medicinal herb shop.......
My neighbor shared her exotic scents with me all weekend as the breeze blew the scents into my tent, hmmmm..... and they had five kids with them, hmmmmm.... but they were good kids.....
I have to say, if I had come to the festival to see wonderful performances and art, listen to great bands and share time with friends and family it would have been the perfect weekend. But I was there to sell my work, and so it wasn't the perfect weekend, although I am trying to make the best of it, considering we had a really good time. Except for the rainy Friday which wasn't really that bad, and then Saturday night.......
Our dearest friend and Gerry's college roommate came to visit and he and Gerry "played " together all weekend. I have to say, they really needed some adult supervision, but I was so busy selling things, I couldn't be the one, so I just looked on as they got more and more ridiculous. We were taking turns sleeping in the tent behind my booth and Saturday night was my turn. And wouldn't you just know it was the night that the band from hell played at 12pm? They were sort of a celtic heavy metal fusion band with lots of bass and screaming electric guitar and strange Irish lyrics. Just the kind of thing you want to listen to after you have worked hard all day, barely sold anything, dried out all of your soaked work from the rain the day before... The band finished up after their ENCORE, if you can believe that! around 2am and then you could hear the sounds of the djembes in the drum circle and then the night just got better and better... at 5am on Sunday when I still had not fallen asleep because of the continuous tribal drums and war hooping, I started crying from exhaustion, put my clothes on and drove home. I got three hours of blissful sleep and a shower and I was ready to rock it on Sunday. The day turned out to be so beautiful, we had great bluegrass at our stage all day and I just sat back, drank a few Buds and chose to ignore the fact that no one was buying a damn thing. Oh I did had an offer for $1 for one of my beers, but I just gave it to the guy, being the nice girl that I am. I also had many requests for a raven flag like you see on my tent, the one that Cindy Shake sent to me from Alaska. Now, if I had those for sell, I would have many more dollars this morning. I gave her name to quite a few folks. All in all, when I think about it, I had my cute husband there helping me, my adorable daughter checking in, I met some really cool people, and all was good with the world, except that I am broke :)
This was how Gerry looked most of Sunday and how I felt
The highlight of the weekend was my crazy and wonderful neighbor Wendy. This girl is a trip and I can't even begin to explain the world she lives in but it was fun to visit it with her. She did a portrait of Wesley for her birthday and it is amazing. I forgot to photograph it, I'll try to post it later.
All in all, we had a great time. But I am sitting here this morning pondering how I am going to move forward. Do I continue to do festivals that I work very hard to get ready for and make little money, but have a great time, or do I just go to them as a participant and not a vendor. I was five dollared to death this weekend. I felt like my work was too pricey except there was a guy there selling handmade guitars from cigar boxes for $175 (I know go figure) and I saw lots of people with them (I know, go figure).
The other thing that happened this weekend was that Wesley (for lack of a better term here sorry) weaned herself from her mom and dad. She camped with her friends, hung out with her friends and we hardly saw her at all for four days and nights. It was good for all of us, Gerry and I have to learn how to be together again without a kid, Wesley has to learn how to be on her own, and this was a great start for all of us and a good, fairly safe place for her to explore doing this. I am quite melancholy this morning and wondering about many things, like should I just go slit my wrists now or after some espresso (just kidding, you know I am!).

17 comments:

Hollis Engley said...

No wrist-slitting allowed, Tracey! Kids grow up and go away, then they come back, then they go away, then they come back ... but they always love you. And after all, having them go away safely and happily is kind of what we're trying to do anyway.

madpotter1 said...

My second just left and have to say as I watch her walk out the door my husband I said; "We did our job well." We have raised two women who will not take up space but give back to the world and for that we are grateful and happy. We sat down had a beer. He retreated to his sailboat and I the studio. Life is so good......... really.
oh and Hollis is right, they never really leave :)

Judy Shreve said...

What a mixed bag for your weekend! I think there are lots of other venues you should approach for selling your work -- those that sell for you so you can have fun at those festivals :-) -- or be making more work instead of you being the one selling it.

And ditto to what Hollis and madpotter said. I enjoy my relationship with Luke even more now than before he left.

Oh yeah -- Happy birthday Wes!!

cookingwithgas said...

Yep Hollis and the others have it right- yep.
Mine are in their 30's and I love them EVERYDAY to my core but I love even more that they are good people.
As far as shows- I have no words as I wonder how in the heck I am going to make it this year.

Tracey Broome said...

I do know that this relationship with Wes will get even better but very different and I am trying now to give her wings. I too have smiled and thought I have done my job well!
Hollis and Judy, I have read your blogs as your kids leave and come back so it gives me comfort and Judy, you are right, I need different venues, I have just been picking festivals because I have so much fun at them, but the time has come to sell some stuff! Kid has to go to college :)

Dennis Allen said...

A couple of years ago I did a show where the only money I saw was a nickel in the road as I was heading for the truck at the end of the day.It can be rough out there. I usually do better if the show at least has "Art" or "Pottery" in the name.Folks usually go to the sweet corn festival to eat then they don't have money for anything else.I think we may have had this conversation before.We'll have it again, and hell yes I picked up the nickel.

Anna said...

I'm at that "what direction do I take" stage too...Though for me, after leaving LibertyTown and moving to C'ville I feel like I'm really JUST BEGINNING....So I guess I need to jump in and start making some mistakes to learn by.....

I do think art is like anything else, there is an ebb and flow to the demand.....I'm just glad I am a potter and not a painter....

Michèle Hastings said...

wise and true words from Hollis. it is hard to see them leave but it is the goal in life to raise good, productive people who can stand on their own.
shows are such a crap shoot. i talked to a friend this week who did the "seagrove" show at the the coliseum in greensboro weekend before last, and on Friday they only had 24 people come through the gate, she said Saturday was just a little better. she didn't even cover her booth fee in the three days. so glad it fell on our studio tour weekend because we had considered doing it.

Tracey Broome said...

Dennis, you always make me laugh! Never stop leaving me blog posts!! Meredith you must have commented just as I was leaving a comment for Judy and Hollis, didn't mean to pass you over, yes you have done well giving your kids wings too, you guys are all great examples to follow! Anna I agree with the ebb and flow theory, it was even true throughout the days at the festival, just like fishing, there was a time they were biting and a time to just go home. Michele you made my jaw drop when I read the number through the gates at the Greensboro show, that is just sad!

cindy shake said...

Derek (hubby first, accountant second) says it best "is it a hobby or a business?" Sometimes my art making is both -or as I like to say it's a hybrid and a means to living the good life! Yin-yang. But as I always say having a pocket stuffed with money from a good sales day makes those end of day margaritas taste soooo much better :o) you'll do better at the next show. Don't give up on the shows because it can be just as painful to see the 35-50% chunk taken out of a gallery commission check!!

Glad Wes has wings...you wouldn't want it any other way. xox

Tracey Broome said...

Hey Cindy: I feel like none of the work I have done in my life to make money has ever been a hobby or a business, just a way to buy gas and clothes or in this case give to my child who always seems to need a $20 and it has been a way to express who I am and what I like. I make some money, it goes away....
I like the idea of it being a hybrid sort of thing though...
Accountants would shudder at the way I manage money :) and yes that gallery chunk hurts but so do some of the booth fees around here. One show that I would like to do is a $500 fee, should I give it to pay for exhibit rental or a great gallery owner? Never an easy way...

HENHOUSE POTTERY said...

Tracey - have you considered getting local (or not so local) tourist shops to take your work? Utah is a hard market for festival art sales, and I have had great luck sending small pieces with a bio and some information about wholesale pricing, how much I can send, etc., to individual gift shops by the national parks, etc. Just an idea, since I have been in the same boat you are - it gets old having someone tell you your prices are too high at the festivals. Thinking happy thoughts for you.

Michèle Hastings said...

re: gallery commissions... a good gallery does what they do best... SELL. it's worth paying them if they do a good job. you don't have to pack up your stuff and sit at an event all day. you can be at your studio making work instead. ideally i would love to be able to sell all my work from our own gallery, but in this economy it is unrealistic.

Tracey Broome said...

Michelle, I totally agree with you and I think a good gallery works really hard for you. I would much rather give them the commission than sit at a rain event or worse yet pay the booth fee and have a canceled show. I just need to get my work to a place where galleries want to sell it!

Soapchick said...

Hollis is so right Tracey, kids grow up, they are with you for only a short bit of that but they will always be there with you in your heart and for you when you need their support! Honestly, I know it. Pat yourself on the back for bringing up a lovely, independent kid who will bring you joy throughout her life and yours XXX sorry to hear about your festival, sucks! I hate those events that just don't work, we all have them. Head up, next one will be much better and knock your socks off!!

Paul Jessop said...

Tracey, when I tried to start up again 10 years ago, I did a show that I thought would see me blast onto the scean. alas I sold just one pot for £12.
and spent more than that on a pizza after the show.

Tracey Broome said...

Hey soapchick, the next one has to be better, it's my solo show at the NC Craft Gallery! Paul, your note is a great comfort, seeing where you are these days with the royal cup making!!!