Custer Street: Highlights, lowdowns and wtfs

I seriously can’t recall a time when it rained on a Custer weekend. So of course Saturday we got evacuated by the fire department because it is monsoon season apparently. There was a flash flood. It was super duper.
Fortunately, beer.
And thank you, Evanston fire department. Y’all were really nice and super on top of our safety.

I totally freaked a lady out by saying “vagina”.
She asked what the significance of the cowrie shells on one of the nichos was. So I told her that in many traditions the cowrie symbolized femininity and fertility, because it resembles a vagina. She was all, “TMI!” So I said, “What’s TMI? Vagina?” and she goes, “Aak!” and I say, “What’s wrong with vagina?”
I swear I must have said “vagina” sixteen times, because I am really unskilled at realizing when I should shut up. She got much more uncomfortable before I noticed that my devil may care attitude towards “vagina” was wigging her out. I don’t know what I should have called it instead. What doesn’t upset people? Hoohoo? I figure if you can say “vagina” on network tv you can say it at an art show, right? I could gesticulate vaguely towards my nether bits I suppose. Though someone might think I have insects near my crotch and THAT never makes a good impression.

Thanks to the monsoon, we got to know one of the most talented artists I’ve met in a long damn time. Lilla, of http://bibelotecamollusca.com. If I’d made any money I’d have bought all of the things. But you, gentle readers, go buy the things. They are awesome things. She’s also on Etsy.

So the skinny on Custer is this, for any crafty types considering trying it out.
The arts and crafts section has some of the badass-est artists I’ve seen in a while. From what my monkeys and I gathered talking to them though, not many were making their rent. If Custer wants to keep this thing going as part art show (as opposed to all flea market), they really need to back up their “if it’s not hand made by you we will kick yo ass out” claim for the arts and crafts section. They currently don’t, despite the stern wording in the vendor packet regarding mass produced goods. I saw three shops on my street alone selling identical wares. I don’t know if they were three different businesses selling the same mass produced stuff, or one business with three spaces, but it looked like shit.
Custer is having a hard time filling spaces because artists aren’t doing well there, so they’re not coming back. Demographically speaking there’s no real reason for that to be the case. Evanston is a well mixed (culturally and age-wise) area with a large middle class, well educated population.
The missing element may just be the vibe of the show. 22 years at ren faire has taught me a lot about setting the mood for a crowd, and they’re sending a very mixed message. It’s a thing. Mark my words.

So take your chances if you have the dough, because attendance is huge and the organizers, but for their willy nilly booth placement, are a well oiled machine that make life fairly easy for vendors. And the weather is USUALLY cooperative.
But only if you’re willing to work two very long days just to make back your nut. It seemed to us, from the conversations we had, that that’s all people were doing. But I know of at least a couple of shops that do consistently well with handmade, and maybe it’s that they’ve stuck it out after a crappy year and trained the crowd.
I’m not sure if I’m going to do that next year. If my next two shows are as shitty as my last two, probably not because I simply won’t have the dough. But if I do it may be worth trying to acclimate Evanstonians to glittery dead things.
Everyone. Should be acclimated to glittery dead things.

One of us…

One of us…

Thank you for visiting senic downtown Hinsdale

Reconned another art fair in the western ‘burbs yesterday with mah boo.
Playing musical shows is easier when you’ve at least had a look at the ones you’re thinking of applying to.

I gotta say though, I’m not sure I’m feeling the western ‘burbs. I’d like to be. There’s money out there, operational costs are within my budget, you can’t swing a dead goat without hitting an art fair, and I’ve gotten a warm reception at the ones I’ve done as far as appreciative browsers goes. But Elmhurst did not wow me last year sales-wise, Schaumburg was downright depressin’, and though every show is different for every vendor, I had the misfortune of hearing some bad reviews of the Glen Ellyn show I’m doing in August.
I will say though, that I think Schaumburg would not have been such an epic fail if they hadn’t scheduled it for the first holiday weekend of the summer. Memorial Day weekend is more of a barbecue and beach thing, rather than an art show thing.

So, since that’s not going to be on the menu next year, we are hitting every show we can fit around Bristol faire, and possibly sending Agents of Doom to check out some during the run.
Hinsdale, which was the one we visited yesterday, came off as the “fine art” variety. The crowd definitely had a conservative vibe, and the price points were on the high side.

I get classified as “folk” or “craft” most of the time. Which, whatevs. It’s all a bunch of hoohah if you ask me, but I’m not about to get into the fine versus not fine art or craft or art/craft or both or neither discussion.
Because it makes me PSYCHOTIC.
I make stuff. If you think it’s art, great. If you don’t, great. My only investment in what anyone calls it is whether or not their opinion will contribute to my making a living doing it.
Hence, this show being “fine art” oriented is a potential issue. I’d hate to waste the $30 applying to a show that isn’t going to like the cut of my gibberish because I play with dead things and dismembered dolls instead of oil pastels and porcelain.

I’m a junker and an anthropology nerd (observe my total lack of ability to stick to one mythology). My artist statement comes from a website called the “arty bollocks generator” and my mediums are glitter and things that are decomposing. Yeeaaaah, probably I should stick to Chicago. The loony tunes that live in them ‘burbs (we’re everywhere, no matter how straight laced the town) can always come visit me in the gritty streets if they want to.