Written by DAVID DUPONT Sentinel Arts & Entertainment Editor
Wednesday, 26 June 2013 08:20
Cracking the field for the Black Swamp Arts Festival's juried art show just keeps getting harder.
Brenda Baker, who chairs the annual event's visual arts committee, said the festival saw a 12-percent increase in the number of applications to participate in the juried show. That meant there were 286 applicants vying for 103 spots. Five spots are reserved for award winners from last year.
That competitive field, Baker said, comes despite reports from artists that the early part of the art fair season has been tough. And it comes after the booth fee for artists has increased to $275, up from $200.
Baker said the price hike was overdue, and represents "a fair price" given what other events charge.
The festivals layout with four booths grouped together gives every artist the added visibility and traffic flow of a corner booth, something other festivals often charge more for.
About 30 percent of the artist come from outside the area, including Florida and Texas. Many, Baker said, "heard about the show from other artists."
Having other artists recommend the festival is a compliment, she said. "People are very eager to be in the show. They value the show."
Also, the festival has increased the amount of prize money, and that may have helped attract exhibitors, Baker said.
But with a more competitive field comes change, and that means some artists festivalgoers may be used to seeing won't be here.
"We've had artists from the area who normally would have made it, who were not juried in," she said.
A number of them will be able to exhibit in the Wood County Invitational Show, which is open to those within a 30-mile radius of Bowling Green. Some though fall just outside that area.
The Wood County show, which was created to insure a place for local artists at the festival, has itself grown more competitive. The festival has 76 applicants, up 46 percent from last year. She understands some exhibitors may be disappointed. "We'll hear a lot of grumbles."
The number of spaces has yet to be determined, Baker said. She said the Huntington Bank parking lot where the show is located can be measured to see if it can accommodate more booths. Last year organizers fit 52 into the space. "We're going to fit in as many booths as we can."
She said the committee "reviews applications both on artistic merit and professionalism."
In the future "we may invite someone to help with the selection process."
That show is getting so popular, Baker said she is considering submitting information to Sunshine Artist, the leading source for art fair information, for its annual rankings.
Last year the juried show moved up to 60th in the nation in those rankings, which are based on artists' sales.
The success though will not mean expanding the juried show on Main Street.
"Right now it's more beneficial to keep it more competitive than to add more booths," she said. "It helps the artists' ability to make more money here ... that's what keeps applications coming and word of mouth strong."
Ceramics and jewelry, about a quarter of the field, still remain the most popular media. But there's been an uptick in hot glass and sculpture as well as digital art, which is grouped with photography. Some shows, Baker said, do not accept digital art.
The art show will run Sept. 7 and 8. The festival begins with music the night of Sept. 6.
Last Updated on Friday, 26 July 2013 14:04