Almost a year ago I said Hoot Owl Creations was done doing shows blind. Based on our experiences of July 2015 we would only take part in an arts and craft show if we checked it out first and made an assessment.
Since I can’t claim a bad memory, I’ll invoke General George Patton: “Take calculated risks. That is quite different from being rash.”
We signed up for the 2016 Sandy Springs Artsapalooza without ever having been to the show or any other show put on by the Atlanta Foundation for Public Spaces. All we had to go on was knowing Sandy Springs is an affluent area, the foundation hosts multiple shows in the Atlanta area, and a desire to get out of our Northwest Georgia comfort zone. With all this in mind Artsapalooza was a great fit.
It was also a great show. Our gamble paid off this time.
Artsapalooza is a two-day show and it’s set up on a street near downtown Sandy Springs; Lake Forest Drive to be precise. We’ve never done a show on a street before so it was going to be something completely new.
Setting up on a street was totally new for us. It left plenty of space for visitors to wander from booth to booth.
Although the weather over the weekend was gorgeous with plenty of sun and comfortable temperatures, the wind was something entirely different. The gusts were strong enough to take the top off another artist’s tent and knock over totes at another during setup. As we loaded the van Thursday night we brought along eight sandbags for our tent — doubling up on the weight. It was a good idea as our tent’s upper structure rocked along with the wind but it never moved an inch.
It wasn’t just the wind that made things interesting. Depending on which what you’re going Lake Forest Drive is either an uphill or downhill slope and we were down toward the Hammond Drive intersection. As our wooden earring display screens tend to be top heavy we decided to forgo the table risers. While this meant our tables weren’t at what we would call the correct height for browsing it meant our screens wouldn’t be in as much danger of falling over. Again, everything worked out very well and we never had an issue, but it does highlight the need to be flexible when setting up at a new show, or any show for that matter.
With the weather being so cooperative visitors started coming in early on both days. We made sales quickly in the morning and the momentum remained steady. Whenever we weren’t busy helping customers or making conversation we were able to watch the sheer variety of dogs walk by with their owners. Everything from Chihuahuas to Great Danes passed our tent, making for quite the show.
The quality of the work on display impressed me the most. I’ve never taken part in any art show where I’ve wanted to take so much home. In fact, I ended up with three prints and a ceramic dragon incense holder from A.L. Swartz and Greta Anthony, respectively. Their work is wonderful and I highly recommend anyone to check it out.
In addition, Emily Vickers had some wonderful paintings in a variety of media and in numerous styles. One of her pieces, “The Highwayman,” I would love to have on my wall. Ken Hoff, the Tin Man, does beautiful work with salvaged tin ceiling tiles, and Jose Paternoster crafts amazing, handmade wristwatches. So much of the work at Artsapalooza was unique in the fullest sense of the word and it speaks highly of the organizer’s curation efforts.
Visitors browse through Emily Vickers' work. Her pieces are done in a variety of mediums.
Curtis Cecil works on his glass art during Artsapallooza. He had a number of beautiful pieces including some inspired by movies and books.
The food vendors on hand were varied as well. Saturday had Dominic’s New York Pizza on hand — delicious as always — along with Williamson Brothers restaurant, a pretzel vendor — also delicious — and Sunday featured the Pup Truck with tasty hotdogs and a flatbread pizza truck. Saturday hosted the first Sandy Springs Farmer’s Market of the year, which served up tasty scones at one booth and a good sausage, egg, and cheese sandwich at another. Altogether it there was a very good mix of food offered, which is always a refreshing thing to see.
We did quite well at Artsapalooza. Many of our visitors were very interested in our product and quite a few appreciated the work that goes into wire crochet. Sales were steady throughout both days and focused primarily on earrings, with a number of bracelets and two necklaces thrown in. When we left we were very happy with how it turned out.
Speaking of leaving, I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention the excellent organization that went into getting vendors in and out to setup and tear down.
How you unload and load back up seems like a minor point, perhaps, but it means a lot for those of us who tote our products from show to show. Artsapalooza took full advantage of having two large parking lots and a closed off street to get us in and out. Check in was in the further of the two parking lots. We were given a parking pass and told to unload everything, move the vehicle, and then set up. It worked really well.
Tearing down was just the reverse: get everything put away, folded up, and boxed up before you get your vehicle and load. We had to get a pass to get back on to Lake Forrest Drive and load our rental van.
It all came off without a hitch. Nobody, at least in our section, was ever in another artist’s way. It was wonderful.
Our time at Artsapalooza 2016 was great and we look forward to signing up for the show again next year. As the Atlanta Foundation for Public Spaces puts on so many shows throughout the year in the Atlanta area we’re going to be checking them out when our schedule allows. Our fall calendar is as packed as it can be at the moment so we’ll be going as visitors rather than artists. However, if Artsapalooza is any indication we’ll enjoy ourselves all the same.
Thanks for stopping by.