Wednesday, January 28, 2009

So, I'm at this antique show, see, and............

......the display is set up, finishing touches are all in place in my booth, and the first question I get from one of the first people through the door is, "Are you the artist ?"

I know they mean well, and they are just trying to initiate some pleasantries, but gawd, it has gotten so OLD. I mean I've heard it at least a thousand times. I just smile and say, "No, I buy and sell art created by quite a few artists, "important" listed ones, talented professionals and amateurs, as well as Florida's highwaymen."

Sometimes I'll just amuse myself and say, "Yes, I painted this one in 1925 and signed it Paul Turner Sargent", or some smart-ass thing like that. I don't do it very often, but if, like, three people in a row ask me that, I'm liable to. I'm not at risk because these people would never buy a painting, anyway. I know this to be an undeniable fact based on the first thousand who asked.
I've never seen the first nickel from any of them.

This is not whining, (remember, I promised not to), it's venting, and it's developing into a list of my personal Pet Peeves.

The second most popular question is, "Where is your location?" I get this almost as often as "Did you paint these?" I guess they want to come visit some other time, when they are not quite so busy as they are right now when all my stuff is right in front of them.

So, I tell them, "I don't have a bricks and mortar gallery, I have an internet gallery and I attend shows, like this one, around the state. Right now is the best time for you to see what I have to offer." Stock answer, no self-amusing twists on this one.

Next is, "Do you have a business card ?" "Yes, I have hundreds of them. Here you go", I say, "these are perfect for grocery lists." And I do believe 75% of my cards are used for that, especially after I give them the idea.

There is this one guy, he visits my booth at every WPB show. Little guy with a ball cap, always in short pants, maybe he's seventy. He's been doing this for at least 6 or 7 years, probably longer. He never asks a price on anything, or shows obvious interest in any paintings, he only goes right to the open "Coast to Coast" book I have on display to enhance and fortify the art I offer by the artists who are in the book, usually Blair, Stanford, Kolbe and Emmett Fritz.
AND HE STANDS THERE AND READS IT for about five minutes. Every show, every time.

He always takes a business card. He doesn't ask if I have one because he knows from experience right where they are. Every show, every time, he must have picked up fifty of them. At a nickel apiece, it's a small price for me to pay for the personal amusement factor.

I actually LOVE this guy and I'll be saddened if I stop seeing him.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Just a quick note.......

I'll follow up on this later, (after I read it myself) but it seems encouraging......

Finally, a positive spin on AOL. Again, have we turned the corner ?

THE HEADLINE : Secondhand Stores Shine in Weak Retail Market

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Hey, this is Florida.............

............and the thermometer on my lanai is reading 40 degrees this morning. Why is it that I'm colder when it's in the forties in Florida than I was when it was often below freezing all those years when I lived in New England and worked in Boston ?

It was an exceptionally beautiful sky this morning though, as the sun was about to come up. Looking east, there was a gorgeous blush of yellow gold on the horizon behind the silhouette of trees, gradually working its way up to light blue, then the deeper blue of daytime. A few dark gray clouds drifted across the gold and graduated up to white puffy ones as they met the blue. And as a bonus, a crescent moon hung up there in the darker blue. I like a daytime moon when you can see the full roundness, the darker part as well as the brilliant white reflection of light.

Ah, but the color didn't last very long.

Of all the thousands of highwaymen paintings I've seen in the last fifteen or so years, only George Buckner seemed to be able to capture that particular "look" in some of his later works. I'm not sure even Backus could capture it the way George did. (Sorry, Kathleen). When I see one of those Buckners, it makes me think of Martin Johnson Heade, one of the great ones.

I think the skies down here are, in general, spectacular. When people comment on the highwaymen paintings I display at shows, most of the time they'll say how nice they are, how the artists have captured the moment. But sometimes, a self-proclaimed expert will still say to their friend, who they are trying to impress, " That's awful, I don't like any of these highwaymen paintings, never did. The sunset doesn't look like that." They couldn't be more wrong. They are just not aware. These are undoubtedly the same people who drive in the left lane 10 mph under the limit. They are just not aware. From the stupid tribe.

As I drive east on the way to a show in the early morning hours, or returning towards the west as the sun goes down, I have seen every color in the spectrum paint the sky, including green. When Brian was with me, he'd often say, "There's a McLendon sunset over there" and there it was, by God, orange and yellow with a touch of sky blue pink behind the dark silhouette of a pine tree. All that was missing was the crown molding frame.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

2009 Kickoff

Let's hope it's a trend.

Sales have picked up the pace at the first two shows of the new year. Great results.

We don't fool around, we went to work at 7am Jan 1, 2009, New Year's Day. What's that you say ? It was a holiday ? Supposed to sit back and watch bowl games on TV ?

So, we hammered down four hours plus on the road to West Palm Beach, unloaded the van at the main exhibition hall of the fairgrounds, and set up most of the display. Had to be ready for the crowd that we hoped would attend when the show opened Friday at noon. We were ready by then, and as I stepped out front for a breath of fresh air (read: to have a cigarette), I was astonished by the size of the line of people waiting for the doors to open. Biggest crowd I've seen for at least a year. Maybe it had to do with the magic touch of the new owners of the show.

Interest was strong, sales were much better than the previous 6 or 7 shows. I began to think,"Hey, maybe we've turned the proverbial corner. Maybe the public will loosen up and start spending again." It's no secret that small businesses have been struggling to make ends meet, just as you have been, gentle reader, and we were no exception. Especially at the shows we've attended around the state in nasty old 2008.

For the first time since I can't hardly remember, we made an actual profit from sales at a show.

Next up for us was the Community Center show on Sanibel Island, which resulted in even stronger sales than we enjoyed in WPB. Say "Hallelujah !"

We have available a group of Harold Newton paintings from his bright and beautiful masonite period, and some of them just walk and talk and could probably cook breakfast for you, too. Sorry, haven't had time to photograph and post them on the website. If the public, whether or not they have ever even heard of the highwaymen, could buy these paintings with compliments, we would definitely be sold out.

We'll know shortly if CHANGE from pessimism to optimism has actually come in anticipation of the new administration. If only the news media (damn their eyes) would shift out of their "doom and gloom" mode, we all can get off to a fresh start psychologically, adjust our attitudes from forced depression to limitless hope.

It doesn't take much to influence a relatively small market (like vintage highwaymen art) to start a new cycle. Let's hope the prices of the investment quality pieces can get off their flat line and start showing some increases again.

Next up, Ft Myers show, followed by Punta Gorda, then back to WPB.

My New Years resolution is to try and more consistantly update this blog.

Until next time, gentle reader, don't let your meat loaf.