Sunday, May 20, 2007

Here I am at the opening for the Apalachicola Museum

Mary Jane Volkmann

Charles Dickinson, Debbie Boon and patron

My friends Mitch Kolbe and Tom Sadler

Oyster Boat
8x10 inches
oil on panel

Final Report on Forgotten Coast Paint Out

I would like to be more positive about this paint out but I am afraid there were major problems with it, at least for me. Number one being no sales. Last year I sold 5 paintings from 650.00-1000.00 This year I sold nothing as of Sunday morning.

There is a problem with one of the promoters who actively works to sell a certain few painter's works. This happened last year and it was shocking.This year was no different. Certain painters are given better hanging spaces and promoted heavily. This person has great influence in the community and so naturally people take his/her suggestions to heart when making purchases.

In the Apalachicola museum my work was separated in small sections and was all in the dark with no lighting. To add insult, they were behind the doors going to the bar, so people did not even notice them. Those who did look, saw them in the dark. One other artist was treated to the same terrible hanging space and it is no surprise that neither of us sold at the museum.

Last year the paint out was supported by a major corporation who graciously purchased at lest one painting from each artist. This year their new representative chose a select few artists and guess who they were? Yes, the favored painters by the promoter who advised the representative on who to select.

There was no wet room set up so that immediate sales were not possible. The only way to purchase and take home immediately was to come to the two openings, where one had to pay 25.00 and 100.00 respectively to attend. I spoke to many people in the communities who refused to pay to see art. They resented this restriction though they could well afford the tickets.

Some artists were allowed to turn work in a various times but the rest of us were not allowed to.

After giving my hosts the required painting of 650.00 value and spending about 200.00 in gas and food expenses for the event I am minus 850.00. I cannot call this event successful. I had a reasonable expectation that I would match or better my sales from last year but instead sold nothing.

On the good side, there are wonderful people who support this event. My thanks to Joe, Kim, Sandy,Jo, Carrie, Leslie, and others who worked so very hard to make it successful. It was successful for many artists, especially those who were favored.

Thanks to the many people who hosted meals for us and invited us to their homes.

Here are my suggestions for improvement, though they will probably not be considered:

A real Wet Room

By this I mean a building where artist can daily bring in framed work and patrons can purchase immediately every day of the paint out.

Patron lunches instead of any coctail parties or openings. There should be an agent for purchases at each patron's home for these lunch time picnics each day and artist could display their work during the lunches and sell.

All money spent for parties and openings should be instead channeled into print ads in Panama City, Tallahasee, and Dothan Alabama, the closest major cities to the Forgotten Coast. There must be an infusion of larger markets for this paint out or it will slowly die. There is not enough of a local market to sustain sales.

Any corporate purchases should be decided on only by the representative and not by the promoter. Promoter should not be allowed to have undue influence on patrons and should not be allowed to promote his/her favorites. This kind of behavior is completely unprofessional. This promoter is essentially acting as an agent for some artists and actually steering patrons away from other artist toward his few. I witnessed this myself last year and was told it happened again this year by other artists.

Communication is very poor between promoters and artists prior to the paint out and during, with many changes which are not shared with the artists.

A clear statement of what the proceeds benefit should be displayed at all events.

With all of the above, I do believe the wet room is the major issue along with the unlevel playing field. A few artist left early in anger over their treatment this year and I can't blame them. People need to realize that we are professionals in our field and deserve equal treatment and fairness. Without he reasonable expectation of sales and good marketing, we cannot continue to come.

I will be looked down on for airing dirty laundry here but I feel that it is my duty to be honest in my posts about the paint outs I do.

I enjoyed the painting time so much, and my host and others were wonderful.

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