Wednesday, March 16, 2011

I Saw the La Quinta Arts Festival -- And Survived!

I'm in the Palm Springs, California area while my wife is watching the tennis tournament at Indian Wells. I'm not at all into that game, so I'm keeping busy writing data display programs for my former employer (as a part-time employee till the end of June).

Saturday I took a break from the J computer language to take in the La Quinta Arts Festival, an event the sponsors tout as Number Three in the USA.

I don't often do art fairs because usually I don't find much of interest. But as I mentioned, I needed some diversion, so I arrived early to find a free parking lot, grabbed a coffee and Wall Street Journal at a fine coffee house in the Old Town, then waited in line and finally plunked down the $12 admission fee to enter. I spent about an hour there and took some photos to document what I saw. A selection is below.

The artists came from as far north as Washington's San Juan Islands and as far east as Florida. I estimate that most fall into the category of having some gallery representation, yet have yet to become well-known to the art consumption public. The quality was a notch above what one might find at a local art fair, so someone with a four-figure budget wanting a nice decorative piece for the family room could do well at the La Quinta.


This is the setting -- a park in the La Quinta Old Town near City Hall. Those white tents house each artist's wares.

There were sculpture, woodwork, photography and other items besides paintings.

Some painting was abstract. I think the ones pictured here would make a decent decoration in an appropriately furnished room.

This artist seems to be able to supply several genres, but nothing that lit my fire.

This group is cartoony and rather silly, so far as I'm concerned. I wonder who buys this stuff and, more importantly, why.

If Botero can make a mint painting fat people, others will be willing to enter that game.

On the more representational side, here in desert country paintings of Indians can sell.

The artist in this tent does it all with palette knives; I saw him at work on a new painting. Poor me, I lack the imagination to appreciate what he's doing. I understand using a knife to do bits of a painting where appropriate. But the whole thing? ... Sorta like inscribing the Lord's Prayer on the head of a pin; a marvel of sorts, but to what other purpose?

The French Impressionists made purple shadows respectable. This artist uses them a whole lot. This inspires me to write a post, but not necessarily about shadows.

Here is Michael Situ's tent. He tells me he's no relation of the increasingly famous Mian Situ, though both work out of the Laguna Beach area. That might be his wife in the foreground. The paintings are mostly plein air studies, but very nice and more finished than studies often tend to be.


Siolo Thompson said...

Art Fair Review - wonderful post, thank you. This blog is fantastic. The art fair is a somewhat unavoidable phenomena that I can't really argue with. After all what could be wrong with bringing art and community together in some bucolic outdoor setting or trendy old town neighbourhood? And yet, art fairs make me cringe. I'm never more reluctant to admit that I am an artist than when faced with paintings hung on plastic tent walls, watched over by some woman (the artists wife?) with flip flops, varicose veins and handy plastic plaque (We take VISA/MC!). That said, I'm very active with my local artwalks even though sometimes I feel like I might be hurting my reputation or chances of getting better gigs. I just don't know. If you ever have a chance I'd love to hear your thoughts about how an emerging (i.e. needing to pay bills) artist can use the art fair/artwalk correctly or if they should just be avoided?

Donald Pittenger said...

Siolo -- Alas, I'm not a professional artist, so I've never tried to market paintings and can't offer reality-based advice.

Clearly such shows do yield enough sales to make them worthwhile or the concept would have fizzled long ago. Maybe you might try chatting up some of the artists at the next decent show in your area (not one of those shopping mall things with painted velvet) with the goal of picking their brains regarding why they participate.

Or perhaps there's a book about making it in art that includes a chapter about shows which might offer food for thought.

Sorry I'm not much help. But thank you for your interest in the blog; I greatly appreciate it.