A couple of weeks ago, I participated in the inaugural Belmont Artwalk, an outdoor exhibit in our neighborhood. Over 30 artists took part, which was a good number for this first-ever event. The street was closed to traffic in Cushing Square for the day, and people could walk around leisurely to view the art. It was a great community event with festive energy.
I used metal gridwall panels to display my art. I bought them at Joslin Displays in Wilmington, MA, where they are available in various sizes and colors. Mine are 2′ wide x 4′ tall, so that they fit into my car with the back seat down. They are sturdy and easy to set up (it takes only a few minutes to screw on the legs). The art hangs on “S” hooks, which can be positioned anywhere on the panel.
The weather was warm with a mixture of sun and clouds. Although we were fortunate there was no rain, the wind was very strong. My gridwalls held up just fine, but my nerves were on edge all day because of the continual clanging of the framed art against the gridwalls. One of my unframed pieces flew off the “S” hook. I then taped the bottom of the unframed pieces to the gridwall and never had to worry about them again.
Other artists were not so lucky. One watercolorist displayed several small, framed pieces on a bookcase that fit on top of her table. That bookcase fell over several times and then it finally broke apart. I was admiring the way an oil painter hung his artwork on long poles attached to the top of his tent, until the wind spun the artwork around the poles and several pieces dropped. Throughout the day, I’d wince whenever I heard a crash, because a nearby ceramicist had lost another piece of pottery.
But, you know what? The wind was my only problem, and I hope that was true for the other participants. Plenty of people came. Although I didn’t sell any originals, I did sell many cards; enough to cover my costs and make a minor profit. For me, these events are not just about the selling, they are also about showing my art in a public space, talking with people about my art, and sharing ideas and techniques.
There were few logistical glitches with the event. Overall, it went smoothly. Shop owners were friendly and welcoming. Everyone showed up to do what they were supposed to do. Police were very helpful and supportive. There are just a couple of things that could be improved:
- The communications between the organizers and the artists was not always clear and timely.
- Publicity could be increased to nonprint media.
I entered into this experience as a leap of faith, I came out of it exhausted and happy. Perhaps the greatest reward was seeing people really looking at my artwork, not just glancing at it. Knowing that many of them are my neighbors made my smile even wider.