Here’s a quick look at a unique local show: the Summer Art Market (SAM), put on by the Denver Art Students League (ASL). It’s a wonderful weekend for many first-time artists along with us long-in-the-tooth professionals.
What’s the Deal with SAM?
What I love about this show is how it gives new and aspiring art students from the ASL the opportunity to have the art show experience in a warm and friendly atmosphere. It’s intended to help students dip their toes into the world of art sales, and give the community a look at some really, really fresh art. Some pros get sprinkled into the mix to help bring in the patrons and maybe share some wisdom.
Those who are new to the show share a single 10′ x 10′ booth. This helps makes it an affordable outing, but it can get to be a bit cramped. The first year I did it I shared with a young print maker doing his first show ever. It was educational for both of us. If you’ve seen me out there, you know how easy it is for me to fill space. Let’s just say I never want to have to share a tent again!
A potter and a painter occupied the tent next to us. Rather than splitting the tent in half (giving them each a 5′ x 10′ space) they chose to have the pottery centered in the tent with the painter showing on all of the walls — a creative solution.
Since I’ve been doing shows for more years than I’d like to admit, I find I tend to offer opinions on display and such to the newbies who are by me. I want all the artists to have a positive experience and I remember how intimated I felt when I did my first show. Now it seems old hat, although each show offers new challenges. The students who showed at SAM were delightfully excited. Very refreshing.
How the Show Went Down
The show the last year I did it…2019, I believe, was very well organized, with great communication from the get-go. Show managers answered all of my questions promptly via email. The volunteers were delightful, many of them students at ASL. The show also hires a professional organization to handle things like security, managing set-up and tear-down, trash removal, and who knows what. There are a myriad details that go into a successful show.
The clientele want a clean, friendly atmosphere in which to wander freely, enjoy the art and meet the artists. I’ve spoken with multiple patrons who’ve mentioned how important it is for them to meet the artist before purchasing a piece. It becomes a more complete experience rather than simply purchasing a piece of art. The folks who run the SAM were able to accomplish this and more with perfect weather and support from the local community.
Who Showed Up
One thing I noticed at this show was the number of young families attending where the parents were serious about introducing their children to art. I had the feeling this wasn’t simply something to do on the weekend; free entertainment, which can happen all too frequently at shows. The children were engaged, listening to the adults and asking some pretty darn good questions. I never had the opportunity to attend a street art show as a child. I’m pretty sure they didn’t exist back then. I can only imagine how mesmerized children can be by the colors and variety of work — and how tempting it is to touch!
As always, there were some special moments and conversations that make me smile as I recall them. One mother purchased the Desk Buddy Grandstanding for the two daughters who were with her. Apparently one of their favorite books is “The Happy Giraffe” — often-requested bedtime reading. They were crazy cute! Another gentleman adopted Miss Wisconsin, my voluptuous cow, for his finance as a graduation present. I heard all about how her whole family will be attending their wedding in New York once she completes her medical residency this summer. You never know what you’ll learn. Indeed, one can find sacred moments at an art show in the middle of anywhere.