Show Review Archives > 2010 > JANUARY
October 10-11, Bayou City Art Festival Downtown, Houston, TX
October 10-11, Bayou City Art Festival Downtown, Houston. Contact: Art Colony Association, 1418 Sul Ross Road, Houston, TX 77006. Phone: 713-521-0133. Fax: 713-521-0133. E-mail: email@example.com. Web site: www.bayoucityartfestival.com. Application fee: $30. Space fee: $425-$1,200. Space size: 10x10 to 10x20. 100% outdoors. Exhibitors: 300. Hours: 10-6. Attendance: 31,000 (gate). Admission: $10.
By Julie Kelly
Medium: Mixed media glass-and-copper birdfeeders
Houston's historic Hermann Square, Sam Houston Park and the surrounding downtown streets are a great location for this well-juried fine art and fine craft show. The show area is fenced and security is excellent, with exhibitors having to show their photo identification to check in. Complete show information and setup times are e-mailed to artists.
It's the little things, such as having turn-by-turn directions to artist parking printed on the back of the parking passes, that make it clear the Art Colony Association wants the show to be as artist friendly as possible. Many exhibitors at the 12th annual show had roomy spaces with storage, but the unloading and loading areas were tight. Artists in the park were able to set up during the day on Friday, but street artists had to wait until 7:30 p.m., when the streets were closed to traffic. I waited until 9:45 p.m. to drive in and could park right by my booth. At takedown, some artists chose to dolly out rather than wait for a loading pass to drive in.
Artist amenities were great. There was a hot breakfast each morning, and cheerful volunteers provided snacks, drinks and booth sitting.
Weather could have been better. It was cool but cloudy on Saturday and cool and misty on Sunday. But buyers still came with umbrellas on Sunday.
I interviewed more than 20 fellow artists. I asked whether they made 10 times their space fee. I asked them to tell me the average price of the items they sold and the price of the most expensive item sold. Some artists also volunteered their total sales. I also asked how sales compared to their last show here and how sales were at other shows in 2009.
A clay artist ($60 average sale/$125 high sale/15 times space fee) happily reported, "Saturday was my best day here ever! I've always liked this show. I like the location and the people. It is always my best Texas show."
Another clay artist ($350 average/$625 high/$3,500 total) said, "I did OK, the same as last year, but it is a hard show to do."
A wood artist ($650 high) was new to the show and said, smiling, "Saturday was fantastic! What I have out is what I have left!"
Another wood artist ($300 average/$900 high/not 10 times space fee) had only praise for the show: "This year the show was slow for me, but it is an excellent show with good crowds. It is well organized, and the staff is nice and helpful."
A 3-D artist ($1,500 average/$4,000 high/$9,000 total) said, "The customers are knowledgeable, and I would love to come back." A second 3-D artist ($135 average/$610 high/10 times space fee) was pleased and said, "This is a prequalified crowd because of the paid admission, and they really appreciate art. Saturday had great sales energy."
A digital artist ($40 average/$95 high/10 times space fee) said his show year in general was down 20 percent but that he came to Bayou City because, "I usually sell a lot here. Yesterday was good, but the weather didn't help us today." Another digital artist ($100 average/$599 high/not 10 times space fee) reported sales down 20 percent but said that artist hospitality was good and plans to return to Bayou City.
A glass artist ($20 average/$185 high/not 10 times space fee) reported, "Saturday was good and had a good crowd."
A second glass artist ($100 average/$750 high/10 times space fee) was taken with the city and commented, "I like these people! They are very friendly. I would move here!"
A leather artist ($120 average/10 times space fee) happily reported, "This is a great location for a downtown show. This park is perfect."
A fiber artist sold half of her inventory on Saturday for sales of $10,000 but parted with only one item on Sunday because of the weather. Another fiber artist ($2,000 average/$7,000 total) loved not just the festive show atmosphere but the condensed layout because patrons could revisit a booth easily. "They feed us and have great volunteers," she said, noting that her middle price points hadn't sold all summer.
A sculptor ($650 average/$1,850 high/10 times space fee) also felt pampered by the show. "They try very, very hard to make life comfortable for the artist," the exhibitor said. "Because it is gated, there are no dogs and more serious buyers."
Another sculptor ($5,500 high/10 times space fee) was hopeful commissions would add to his total. "I talked to a lot of people," the artist said. "Sales are usually robust here, [but] I never know what will pan out. This is a weird economy."
An acrylic artist had a $1,500 high sale and sold $4,000 in all. However, a second acrylic artist had a $30 average sale and did not make back the booth fee. This artist thought setup went well. A third acrylic artist was down 50 percent from last time, with total sales of $3,000, but didn't have any show complaints. "This is a pretty good show normally," the exhibitor said. "There is good advertising and a good crowd."
A jeweler ($100 average/$250 high) shared, "Weather was definitely a factor, but the people are receptive." A second jeweler ($6,000 high/more than 20 times space fee) also thought weather hurt sales.
A third jeweler ($800 average/$10,000 high/$60,000 total) summarized his show as "fantastic!" and added, "This is a high-end crowd. It's a paid entry so you get the right-quality people!"
Kim Stoilis, the executive director, was happy the show had record-breaking attendance on Saturday and shared, "The Patron Art Heist went very well and was sold out. We would like to tweak that to make it even better next year." Regarding the format for the next show, Stoilis said, "For 2010, the admission fee of $10 will stay the same, and we will not increase the number of artists."
Stoilis understands the importance of accurate presentation of artists' images during judging and explained, "We have a wonderful setup for jurying. There is a huge wall to project the images. The judges are not judging off the monitors."
In summary, weather was a factor this year, but this is still a well-juried art show that draws art-appreciative patrons. And the publicity is excellent. The Art Colony Association and the sponsors work hard to make this a wonderful experience for patrons and artists alike. The next downtown festival will be held on October 9-10, 2010.
Editor's note: All four artists who sent in FastAudits said they would return. All categories received above-average marks, and sales for three of the four auditors averaged $3,080. The fourth labeled sales simply "better than average."
December: September 5-7, Frankfort Fall Festival, Frankfort, IL
November: September 5-7, Art in the Park, Marietta, GA
November: Boston Christmas Festival
October: July 3-5, Cherry Creek Arts Festival, Denver, CO
September: June 13-14, Old Town Art Fair, Chicago, IL
August: May 16-17, Spring Fine Art and Crafts at Verona Park, Verona, NJ
July: March 20-22, Winter Park Sidewalk Art Festival, Winter Park, FL