What people don’t see as they walk through the booths
As my alarm jolted me at 5:30 AM Saturday, I felt like I had just laid down to sleep. That’s because I had, I crawled into bed only 3 1/2 hours before! Yes, last minute matting and wrapping prints had eaten away at my “pre-game” beauty rest before the big “dance”: the Bucksport Arts Festival. The small X-mill town held its third annual art festival on their lovely river walk area paralleling Main Street along Penobscot Bay. I have been fortunate to participate each year since its beginning. Let me explain the festival process from the artists’ point of view so that potential customers and festival-goers truly know what it takes to view the finished product on Saturday.
Activities before the stroll down the booth boulevard can begin
First step in the festival/show process is the art application. Every artist must apply to the festival management with an application form and a fee, (this year’s fee $75). The fee is non-refundable. With this year’s application the artist must submit images of original work via email because their art is judged to determine acceptable quality. This process begins usually around the first of the year, in January or February. By April, the accepted creative applicants are notified. Bucksport allows many forms of art. The following is a list of types of art included in this year’s festival: two dimensional work, such as, oil, acrylic and watercolor paintings; pencil, or pastel drawings; jewelry; glass-works; hand-made soaps; iron-welded sculptures; fabric art, including silk-screened apparel; prints; wood-working products and photography.
Second step is obvious, make and produce your unique pieces all winter and spring to prepare enough inventory to sell to the public. This includes creating items that are special to each festival location. I went to Fort Knox to paint. Then I painted a view of the town of Bucksport from across the bay. Accordingly, frames/mats/easels must be procured to present a professional presentation for your two-dimensional art. Also, I suggest prints and cards be made of your most popular paintings to cover lower price points. But with prints and cards, the artist must add the additional cost of cellophane coverings for both cards and prints. My go-to-printers are my friends Elena and Ben Metzger. The Metzger’s own PRINT BANGOR, https://printbangor.com and they have top-notch designers and state-of-the-art laser printer equipment. Not only that, Ben and Elena are fast and reasonably priced! Plus, they are extremely conscientious and will go the extra-mile for their customers: because at 9:30 Friday evening before the festival, I realized I needed more envelopes! I texted Elena, and she sent her husband to grab the correct size. My husband met Ben at the store and he gave the envelopes to him. Phew, crisis averted! We had envelopes just in the nick of time!l Thank you Elena & Ben!
Locked and loaded
Luckily, this wasn’t my first rodeo. I cajoled my husband into loading the heavy items into the truck bed the evening before. The cumbersome 10″ X 10″ metal tent frame and exhibit panels, 8″ table, easels, weights for the tent, (in case of windy weather and it’s always windy!), large plastic bin with nylon tent top & sides, folding chairs and display brackets and canvas business banner, (illustrating me, “Paint ME., LLC”, also printed by Print Bangor.) No room for a keg or case of wine that would definitely boost sales! The delicate framed paintings, prints and cards get loaded into the back seat area inside the Silverado bright and early in the morning. This is another fun task when we are sleep deprived!
The good, the bad and the ugly
I will start with the ugly: the setting up process…sorry, no photos because a three-person film crew would be needed to capture this chaotic drill! Finding a parking spot close to the display area with a big pick-up is the first obstacle and there is fierce competition for the choice parking locations. This activity would rival the Bangor State Fair “Bumper Cars Ride”! But everyone has her “Happy-Face” on and people are trying to be courteous at 7:00 AM. The festival begins at 10 :00 AM, but it’s an unwritten rule that exhibitors MUST arrive three hours prior to be set up in time for opening!!! Actually, festival volunteers were extremely helpful in offering assistance with unloading and delivery of items. Thank you, volunteers!
The bad: the next step is putting up the tent, indescribably complex. Pulling out the heavy metal frame that is compacted into a one foot by five foot rectangle and making it expand into a 10″ x 10″ structure with two people is a challenge, with one person impossible! Plus, we had to throw the canvas tops and sides on with Velcro during the expansion, or again the tent would not erect properly. Truly a test for any marriage or friendship. I recommend little or no conversation during this time to minimize any regrettable comments! This was the day before our 17th anniversary so we were on our best behavior!!! Once the tent was up, my husband’s task was to stake down the corners of the tent and stand up the aluminum display panels. Then, we both place the panels around the perimeter of the tent. This is tough as they must fit inside the nylon tent sides, in case of rain, (it always rains some, like it did Saturday!). Saturday began with heavy mist and light rain, but I did have a knockout view of the fort and marina from my display spot!
Next, my assistant and I both bring the paintings from the truck and hang them on the panels; this resembles the Keystone cops routine, but it gets accomplished in the nick of time. I lay out the tablecloth and arrange the display easels and card tray and hang up my sign on the front of the tent to advertise. I always put the biggest most colorful paintings on the big easels at the entrance of the tent to attract people inside!.The lure of curiosity is a big draw. My oil paintings of the “Crab Apple Tree Exploding” did the trick, as did my semi-nude portrait of Tom Brady, “Who Ripped Off Tom Brady’s Shirt?”
Finally, the best part of any art festival is meeting people and talking art and of course making a sale! As president of the Bangor Art Society, I am always recruiting new artists too. People invariably pop in and make revealing comments. I can tell when someone is an artist herself, as these folks have a more critical eye and ask more penetrating questions about my work, or they ponder and linger a little bit longer than others. This is my chance to engage with them and ask about their work. Art is a great conversation starter and people LOVE talking about themselves!!! I always explain about the BAS and ask people to join. See TheBangorArtSociety.com
Lastly, I appreciate everyone for stopping in my booth and all those folks who bought my art. Bucksport holds a special place in my heart, as my parents were newlyweds when they moved to Bucksport in 1955, on 17 Federal St.. My dad taught and coached football and baseball at Bucksport High School. My mother delivered me that ’55 September. Bucksport was my first home! Saturday, people came by who remembered my parents and chatted. It was also great to see my classmate from elementary school in Orono. She bought my plein-air oil painting of “Otto’s Farm” on College Ave. in Orono. Thank you, Susan! Also, I am grateful to Lyndsey Marston, who was one of the organizers of the event. A special thank you to my friend Robertine Ouellette for helping us take down the exhibit. It was a long day but well worth the efforts. Happy Anniversary to my beloved assistant. I couldn’t participate without his efforts and our teamwork! Please visit/like my Face Book page PaintME.,LLC and Teddi-Jann Covell and Teddi-JannCovell.com