October 17, 2015

With hundreds of art shows across the country each year, I thought it would he helpful to artists and art collectors to give my take on the top art shows that I have exhibited at. Not only do I believe any artist looking to expand their brand and vision should be doing art shows, I think they should consider these top shows in particular.

If there are any that I missed that you believe should be on this short list, feel free to shoot me an email and let me know!

La Quinta Fine Arts Festival – La Quinta, CA

La Quinta Arts Festival - Top 3 Art Show

LQAF is an extremely well organized show. To an artist that is one of the most important aspects. They communicate well with the artists leading up to and during the show. They have been running the show for 34 years now, so they know what they’re doing. I reviewed the show in depth a few years back.

The show goes above and beyond with volunteers running golf carts to help the artists load, unload and get equipment to their booths. In addition, the security is top notch. It’s the only show I can walk away from at the end if each day without having to pack up all my art and zip up the tent. Nice bonus.

The location is absolutely beautiful. La Quinta takes place in Palm Springs at the La Quinta Civic Center Campus Park. The show will take place March 3-6 next year, and I believe the deadline has just passed for application to the show. It might be worth calling them to see if they are extending.

Part of what makes La Quinta such a draw is the highly educated, serious art patrons that show up every year. The last 2 years averaged sales exceeding $3 million, equating to about $13,000 per artist! 

In exchange, LQAF requires artists pay a 20% show fee for all art sales made at the show, as well as a booth fee of $275 for a 12 x 12 space. I generally find this is worth them getting the cut, as they bring the art savvy crowds that can lead to repeat business and referrals!

Art on the Square – Belleville, IL

Art on the Square - Top 3 Art Show - Belleville, IL

Art on the Square is a very small, dynamic, well designed show. Very easy set-up and tear down. It’s a very well laid out show from a traffic standpoint. No dead spots, as the show is set around the town square and water fountain. From the local support and food to the general community feel, this is a great community event and show.

The director is super dynamic and has come up with incredible programs to support the artists and the community. I simply can’t say enough good things about her and her volunteers. She monitors all of the booths making sure there is absolutely no buy/sell going on. Everything is made by the artist and what they juried in with.

They have very generous awards. There is a wonderful breakfast buffet for the artists and community leaders where they hand out the awards. They also do a wrap up event for the artists on Saturday evening, where we got to judge pieces from local art students, while enjoying wine and snacks.

They keep the show very small, around 100 artists. They understand this is how the artists make their living and won’t dilute the show by having too many artists showing. I previously reviewed the show more in-depth here.

Sculpture in the Park – Loveland, CO

Top 3 Art Shows - Sculpture in the Park - Loveland, CO

Sculpture in the Park is another very well organized show in its 33rd year. They are great at communicating with the artists throughout the year. It’s the easiest show to set-up and tear down since they provide the tents and pedestals.

They handle all of the sales, so there is no having to deal with the money aspect, which can be very nice. They have a shipper on site to help buyers out should a piece need to be shipped.

They put on a Friday night semi-exclusive show opening with hors-d’oeuvres and an open bar. This certainly doesn’t hurt folks opening up their wallets.

The show is located in Benson Park which they have turned into a stunning sculpture park. I love showing in an all sculpture show. It means it’s a highly targeted audience that isn’t there for paintings or crafts. They typically end up knowing a little more about bronze sculpture and the details around it.

Whether you’re an up-and-coming artist or a collector looking for the best shows, I hope this gave you some insight and you’ll share this if it was helpful!