Let the art fair season begin

May 16, 2008
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This weekend marks the unofficial launch of the summer art fair season, with the Broad Ripple Art Fair sure to attract mobs to the Indianapolis Art Center grounds (weather cooperating, of course). 

I'm a fan of BRAF and its end-of-summer-IMA-bookend, the Penrod Art Fair--and I'll probably go to both again this year. For me, they're great ways to gather information, fun opportunities to schmooze, and terrific excuses to get outdoors.

Truth is, though, when I think back on previous fairs, I don't recall much about the art or the performances. Of course, this could have a lot to do with the fact that I usually had a kid or two in tow.

So I'm asking: For you, are the art fairs more than just a social experience? Have they exposed you to artists that you otherwise would not have encountered? Have you heard or seen any outstanding live performances? Have you been inspired?

Your thoughts?
  • I like art fairs and used to go to Talbot Street every year, but I find that they're so crowded that I can't get in anywhere to see anything I want and it's not all that enjoyable. I guess I prefer gallery openings to art fairs. Seems to be less of the masses and more people who are really into art. And no offense, but some of these fairs seem to have too many strollers to try to navigate around. I don't mind kids going in general, but there seems to be some egghead, oblivion parents that will run up your heel with a stroller or stop in the middle and block the whole path without a second thought.
  • I like art fairs, too, but I know exactly what Firewoman is talking about. If the Broad Ripple Art Fair is on a gorgeous day such as today was, I don't go, because I know from experience that a) I will feel claustrophobic from the packed-in crowds, and b) I will leave with bruises on my achilles tendons.

    I bet the BRAF this year will be perfect, though, because the weather is supposed to be rainy. I guess that is not all that great for the people running the fair, but as long as the event does not actually get cancelled due to thunderstorms, it means excellent non-crowd conditions for shy fair-goers like me.

    Hah! And it just occurred to me that maybe we could use Lou's blog to discourage the masses no matter what the weather: Oh, no, don't even think of going to the BRAF. It is much too crowded! (hee hee)

    But it is also lovely. If the crowds are really scary, I think of myself as being on a military maneuver. I dart in, dart out, dart in, dart out of the booth area and retreat to the lawn behind the Writer's Center to take notes on what I saw that I would like to buy: the hand-painted pottery soap dispenser, the wild earrings assembled from hand-formed beads, the cutting board that looks like a book, the napkin holder made of different kinds of inlaid (is that a word?) wood, the wooden trivet that pulls up to become a basket to put by the phone and hold odds'n'ends, the rubber stamps in the shape of an ear of corn and a hot air balloon...

    Good heavens! I have bought a lot of small items over the years!

    The biggest thing I ever bought at an art fair was a ceramic lamp, a few years ago at Penrod. I love that lamp.

    My biggest art fair regret is a small painting called Kiva that I saw at the Eiteljorg's Indian Market many, many years ago. It cost $175. I had never spent that much money on art, and I didn't really have that much money to spare, anyway, so I did not buy it.

    But I have always wished that I had lived on instant ramen for a month or something and spent my money on the painting. Or at least that I had made a note of the artist.

    As far as performers, I discovered the Gregory Hancock Dance Theatre when they gave a demonstration at Penrod. I have been moved by every performance of theirs that I have seen since, including the child-filled Nutcracker that serves as their school recital piece. That Penrod demonstration also made me wish I had more time to explore all of Indy's dance companies.

    A long time ago, a friend invited me to hang out with her and her father at their booth at a festival in Louisville...King James' Court? I think that's what it was called. She made batik pieces and he carved ginseng. That was a lot of fun, helping with the exhibit for one weekend. I think it could get to be a grind after a while, though, if you made your living by going from fair to fair. I really appreciate the artists who come to our fairs in Indy.

    I have several deadlines due at my day job this weekend, but if I meet them, I will treat myself to a little something at the Broad Ripple Art Fair on Sunday. Maybe I will see you guys there!

    Hope Baugh

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