Overheard at Art Festivals

(NAIA webmaster/woodworker)

Gordon Rick Bruno posted this to the NAIA Open Forum one day and started a thread...if you would like to contribute send it to:

I don’t know if anyone has ever done a top ten list for street artists, if not I’d like to contribute my list of the most unusual things I've heard over the past year. I’ll call it Stuff Overheard at Art Festivals.

Frustrated artist to show director “I’M NOT WHINING I’M EXPLAINING!”

Frustrated Judge to artist who has demanded to know why he did not receive an award. “Your work is good and original, unfortunately your good work is not original and your original work is not very good.”

Artist learning for the umpteen time that they did not make it into a top show. “Asking me what I think about slide juries would be like asking a fire hydrant what it thinks about dogs.”

Overheard at a South Florida art festival. “The judge just told me something that brought tears to my eyes. After pouring out my heart to her for ten minutes she said ‘No hablo ingles’”.

An artist who is definitely a burn out told me “This year my New Years resolution will be to try to dread just one show at a time”.

Best acceptance speech by an artist “I don’t deserve this award, but I’ve got arthritis and I don’t deserve that either!”

Overheard at a Boca Raton show: Artist who has had it with a ‘persistent why can’t you give me this for a better price, customer. Artist to customer “Sir when your IQ rises to 28 sell!”

Overheard: Friendly advice given to a distraught artist who has had a miserable year, no sales, no awards, not getting into any shows. “Let me give you a little cowboy wisdom, when your horse has died don’t try to ride him”.

Overheard at Longs Park, burnt out artist to a gentleman passing by. “Sir is that a beard or are you eating a muskrat”.

Three photographers visiting together at the Columbus Art Fair. A fourth photographer who has blatantly ripped work off from all three is being approached by the judges committee who have ribbons in hand. One of the three says “Lets walk on over there and see which one of us won the award”.

One artist still talking about the rip off artist. “No one can have a higher opinion of him then I have, and I think he’s a slimly little weasel.”

Same artist who received the ‘dead horse wisdom’ is still trying to justify staying with their current work by trying gold frames. “Partner, putting a fancy saddle on a dead horse is not going to improve the ride”.

An interview with the notorious show director X. Question: “Do you try to treat your artists fairly?” Answer: “I treat my artists EQUALLY, My foot is either on their necks or up their rear!”

Two artists talking about technique. “He was the worlds only armless sculptor, He put the chisel in his mouth and his wife hit him on the back of the head with a mallet!”

Overheard: One artist asking another artist the secret of their financial success in view of the fact that their work is terrible. “Sure I’m a lousy artist but then again most people have lousy taste.”

Overheard: “The difference between great work and junk is that there are limits on how much great work you can produce, only the worst artists are always at their best”.

And finally this classic from painter Jackie Berkly. “ Why do I feel that it’s a precious cargo of art on the way to a festival and an unsold load of junk on the way back?”

Here are some more gems sent in by members:

Our best was when a man looked over the contents of our booth, turned to Marty, and said, "My 9-year old grandson makes artwork that looks just like this." Marty's response was, "Here's a business card. Please ask your grandson to give my wife a call. She really could use some good help."

Actual overheard comment at last week's ACC Charlotte: "There's so much pretty stuff here I wish we had a double-wide."

A young unmarried couple came into my booth at an outdoor show once. The girl was touched by one of my photographs and asked her boyfriend to purchase it for her. Her boyfriend, in a manner meant to impress, offered these words of wisdom; "No need to buy it, I can take a picture just like that for you (and as they walked away, finished the sentence with) as soon as I can afford to buy a camera".

At Barrington, a woman asked me:"$225.00 for a picture?... are you famous or something?". Otto Senz who was standing next to me almost had a heart attack laughing, told me I should have said "yes".

One of my favorites is from a photographer, perhaps the very one whose work was really that of three other artists. Years ago this person hung a sign on his booth that said, "Compliments are nice, but they don't buy bread." The sign was posted immediately to the left of a photo of a snake. Hmmmm.

My paintings are rather minimal in nature, so I've heard this comment more than once: "If I stare at this painting long enough, will I SEE something?" I truly understand someone's confusion at being confronted by something new, (I even have that problem with JURORS) so usually I respond, "No, but you might FEEL something!"

My worst was with a judge at the Disney Festival of the Masters two years ago. She came into my booth, looked around at my traditional figurative work in a very bored manner. When her eyes fell upon my organizer hanging in the back of the booth – a hanging travel organizer with clear plastic compartments crammed with miscellaneous: my sugar & creamer packets, napkins, pens, feminine hygiene products, a corkscrew – She brightened up, looked excited and asked me if that was art.

My booth was right in the middle at Syracuse this summer. I noticed a guy looking at several booths, then he walked up to me and said, "What time does all of this close tonight"? "Well", I replied, "this art show part closes at 8:00, but I think there might be some music going on until 10:00 or so." "OH", he said, a startled look in his eye, "Is this an art show?"

I do pastels and do not use fixative on them. Two years ago I got a phone call from the person who purchased my pastel at the auction saying "I showed the drawing to the Chairman of the show and to a framer, we can find nothing wrong with it" I replied "I don't understand what your asking me" He said "well you have do not fix on the back". Happy Holidays!

I'm a photographer and have been asked if I have any pictures of unicorns. I have also been asked (more than once, I might add) if I was there when I took those pictures. Some of us work hard at making a nice display. A jeweler friend of mine won an award at a show and hung his ribbon on his backdrop panels which were nice wood folding screens with fabric panel inserts. A man come up to his booth and told him that the award was well deserved for such beautiful looking screens!

Two women staring at our work...one says to the other "I have never seen anything like this in my entire life." Then she turns to walk away as she says "But I'm looking for something really unusual." Two other women walking by the booth, one says "This stuff isn't cheap. I thought these people were supposed to be artists." A man walked into our booth with a camera and asked if I'd mind if he took a picture of one item so he could go home and make one for his wife.

Our very favorite: In Louisville we heard the word "cute" so many times that we decided to start counting the number of times we heard it in a day. After one hour we had ninety nine times. One woman had used the word in one form or another 26 times. "So cute, the cutest, that's cute, this is cute," etc., until the capper, as she was leaving she turned to us and said "Cutey-cute!"

A woman spent quite a while browsing through the knitted garments in the booth of a fiber artist friend of mine. Finally, she asked the artist if she had a business card. My friend handed her a card, and the woman promptly spit her gum into it, wadded it up and handed it back to the artist, asking her to discard it for her.

A 12-14 year old boy came into my booth one day and looked around. "Did you make all of these things yourself?" When I replied that I had, he responded with, "Boy, you must have a lot of free time!" Happy Holidays, everyone.

I kind of hesitate to post this one, because I've heard it so many times it seems obvious, but here goes... "Will this match my kitchen?" I once had a lady ask me this question, and when I told her I had never seen her kitchen, she said something like, "I really need something to match my kitchen." My response was substantially the same, and she said something like, "If it matched my kitchen, I'd buy it." I thought to myself "I'm not going to play this game", but when she was still playing it after 15 or 20 minutes (no joke), I finally said "It matches your kitchen", whereupon she replied "Wrap it up!" Sometimes people just want permission to do what they are going to do.

This is slightly related to the thread below, which I agree is wonderful. Like many artists at the shows, I spend so much time explaining what I do that I'm constantly reminded of a comment by Picasso on that subject: "Everyone wants to understand painting. Why doesn't one try to understand the song of a bird? Why does one like the night, a flower, all that surrounds us without trying to understand them. Whereas they want to understand painting."

I was doing Baltimore (with my jewelry) and 2 women came up from a big name gallery and started pointing and gushing that this was just what they had been looking for. The excitement builds as they start bringing back others from the store to look. I'm starting to see a big order coming, and then they tell me they'd like to buy one of the commercial chains that my piece was hanging from...

A friend of mine was having a very bad show and her attitude was slowly going in that direction as well. As she was sitting in her booth she recognized a past customer entering her booth and her hopes were rekindled. After looking around a little bit the woman approached my friend and expressed a deep appreciation for my friend's work. She told my friend that she wanted to support all her efforts over the past years by thanking her for being an artist. The customer than went back to looking at the work. My friend thanked her and went to the back of her booth for something. When she came back out, the woman had left. My friend was thinking that if the woman really wanted to support her she should have bought a piece. As my friend went to sit down there was an envelope on her chair. My friend sat down and opened it. Inside was a $100 bill and a note that said, "Thank You".

Favorite booth stories:
1. A young woman comments that a friend of hers would love our little linocut of a dragon, to which her husband responds "Why? Is she a devil worshipper?" Nonplused, the woman tried to explain saying "No, you know, some people like unicorns or mermaids...Like that." The husband then looks sideways at her and says "Why? You can't have one as a pet!"
2. A man stands in the middle of our booth and very loudly says "Well, I really hate this art, but can I have that one for half price?"
3. A man comes into the booth holding a bible and some religious tracts and says "Mr. Hill, there is much darkness in your work," to which Marvin replied "The ink is black. Get over it."
4. Someone really did ask once "What's it FOR?" Marvin's answer was "It's for SALE."
5. When the third person in a day had asked what kind of drugs Marvin did to produce his unusual images (or "I know what YOU were doing in the '60's!!"), he replied that he doesn't do drugs because they interfere with his hallucinations.
6. We once had a gentleman offer us $500 for a piece priced at $600. and $100 for a piece priced at $200. When I asked him if he realized that he was asking us to give him the smaller piece free he said "Well, don't think of it like THAT." Another favorite is when people tell us that if only we had a certain image we'd be millionaires. One even asked why we don't do the Batman logo (this was when the movie came out with all the merchandising).