Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Art in Kayenta

We were so incredibly excited to be accepted into this very prestigious art festival!  But there was lots of planning to do.

After much searching about on the internet, we knew we were going to need a road trip prior to the show.  Kayenta is surrounded by BLM lands which are closed to camping and Paiute Indian Reservation.  The two campgrounds near it were already booked.  So the Sunday before the show, we went on a fact-finding mission.

Gunlock State Park is about 9 miles from the show location, so that was our target destination.  We found it with the help of navigation from my phone, and liked what we saw.  It was just a matter of determining if it was close enough to the show.  We didn't want to create a huge commute situation.

It turned out that it was a fairly easy 9-mile drive to the show location.  Cool!  Feeling that our lodging problems were resolved, we headed into St. George and happily had In-N-Out hamburgers for dinner, then headed back home on I-15.

Thursday, we were ready.  With everything packed, checked at least three times to make sure nothing had been forgotten, we hit the road just before noon.  The drive to Gunlock was uneventful, until we actually arrived there.  To our dismay, the entrance was obstructed with yellow caution tape.  The notice indicated that it would be closed to the public October 6-8 (Thursday was the 8th) due to water treatment in the reservoir.  Why on earth didn't they put a note up last weekend so that we would have been forewarned?  Now we had nowhere to park our travel trailer for the night.

We knew that there was some open BLM land between the State Park and the Indian Reservation.  So with the trailer behind the truck, we headed in the direction of the show location.  We found a nice turnout with a terrible access road, but at that point we didn't have a lot of choices.  Paul gingerly drove down the horrible road (more of a driveway) into the turnout.  

It turned out to be a nice, level spot, surrounded by beautiful, old-growth oak trees.  We unhooked the trailer, got it level, and fired up the refrigerator....  life was good.  But when I stepped out of the trailer, my left foot found the nicely rounded rock right at the bottom of the stairs.  That ankle rolled big time and down I went like a ton of bricks.

Sitting there, I took inventory...  toes move, ankle moves, foot flexes...  not broken.  I decided not to mention it to Paul at that point, because he worries so.

When we got to the Art in Kayenta location, found the information booth, and were told where our spot was, we found a car parked in it.  After about half an hour, the show organizer moved us over a spot, since the owner of the car could not be found.

The canopy was up and quilts were hung within an hour.  We smiled at each other, knowing that we were really getting the hang of this.  "About time," we thought....  we're into our sixth year now!  I had a gift card for Red Lobster burning a hole in my pocket, so we drove into St. George and had an absolutely delicious meal for less than the price of McDonald's!  But during dinner, without looking I knew the ankle was swelling, and it became obvious that I was going to need help.  So the conversation began with, "I don't want you to worry...." which always makes the listener panic!  We figured that the ER would say, "$300 for the visit, $200 for the xrays, it's an inversion sprain, here's a $40 brace."  We opted for Big 5 Sporting Goods for the brace.

Friday morning, we were up about 8.  Paul took a ride up to the State Park.  The caution tape was down...  hooray!  So we hooked the trailer up and moved into a "real" camping spot.  The whole process took less than an hour.  That done, we headed off to the first day of this three day event.

We had noticed during the night that there was a stiff breeze.  What we didn't know that the draw in which the Kayenta Art Village sits is subject to severe wind storms when there is any disturbance around it.  What we found when we arrived at our booth was a disaster.  The front of the canopy was on the ground.  Our neighbors were terrific in helping us lift it to determine what happened.  It turned out the one of the front legs had broken right at the top.  One of the roof cross-members was bent, but not broken.  We learned a bit later that as many as eight other artists suffered a far worse fate, as their canopies had blown and rolled, mangling them beyond repair.  Ours hadn't gone anywhere; our weights did exactly what they were supposed to do.

The broken leg did fit into what was left of the pipe at the very top of the corner.  You give my husband duck tape and he can fix anything.  We found a mangled frame, and he stole metal pieces off of it, taping them to the broken leg and the bent roof truss.  IT WORKED!!!!!!!!!!!  And it wasn't even all that ugly!  Thankfully, nothing else was lost or broken.

We sold a quilt about 10 minutes into that first morning, without any discussion of price.  We were both thrilled!  The rest of the day, we spoke to maybe 3 dozen people; there simply wasn't much of a crowd.  Not a problem....  we did sell a quilt, and tomorrow is Saturday.

Saturday morning, we woke up and made coffee.  But when we went to warm it up for a second cup, oooopppppsssss.... we're out of propane.  We had taken all of the quilts home with us Friday.  Hoping to find the canopy still standing, we drove back to the show location...  the canopy was up!  Paul dropped me and the quilts off and went to solve our propane issue.

Saturday dragged.  I am not sure that we saw as many people all day Saturday as we had seen Friday.  We noticed several artists closing early that day.  What we found out the next morning was that many of them simply packed up and went home, including everyone within 50 feet of us.

Sunday morning, we found the canopy still standing.  Traffic was almost nothing, but we did have one customer who bought a comforter.  At this point, our booth was nowhere near any other art booths, so we weren't surprised that if there were any shoppers, we didn't see them.  They would walk to where the booths seemingly ended and leave.

All in all, this show was such a disappointment.  The organizers decided to change it this year, completely destroying the compact ambiance of an art village.  It was spread out all over the place with no rhyme or reason and no set traffic pattern for visitors to follow so that every artist would be seen.  We know that it's not a show's job to get us sales - that's our job.  But we can't do that if the shoppers never find us.  We spoke to a number of other artists, and heard the same story over and over again.  None of them made even their booth fee back, let alone the traveling expenses.  This used to be such a wonderful show........

Here is our rating, on a scale of 1 (atrocious) to 10 (spectacular) for Art in Kayenta:

Load In/Load Out  10

Availability of show organizers during show 5

Overall layout and traffic pattern 1

Mix of show 10 (absolutely beautiful works of art in every possible medium were on display)

Show matched pre-show materials N/A (no pre-show materials were received)

Parking for exhibitors 1 (there wasn't any - when we asked where we parked, we were told to find a place on the street wherever we could)

Overall rating 1

Weather Expectations: Temperatures will be breezy, hot and dry.  Do check weather reports as thunderstorms with flash floods can pop up.

Who should do this show? Only true "artists" in traditional mediums are accepted into this show.  There are no "crafts."  This is an expensive show ($20 application fee + $250 booth fee).

Would we recommend this show to other exhibitors? Not after our experience.

Will we do this show again?  Probably not, unless we walk it in the future to see if it has gone back to its original format.


  1. Oh, Sandi, I'm so sorry; it sounds like the perfect storm of things going wrong for you.

  2. It was an adventure... One of those "Murphy was an optimist" adventures!