Monday, December 30, 2013

A Street Called Home

2013 "A Street Called Home" Fused Glass

Wow what a year.  30 paintings in 30 days in January FOR THE THIRD YEAR IN A ROW!,  Portland, Oregon for an adventure of a lifetime in May,  a whirlwind of art shows all summer long, a priceless gift given to a worthy family on Veterans Day, 
"Sacrifice" Gifted to the family of Danny Dietz GM2 KIA 2005

 all culminating in a dream of a lifetime, FiYA Pop up Gallery

  So many of my fans and followers supported this goal, and once I hit the ground running, I haven't had the time to properly thank you all.  I hope in the coming year, I can make that up to you.  For now, trust that I haven't forgotten your support, and I am sharing a letter I wrote to the artists that first signed up and believed that the gallery would be a success.   There's something to be said for faith, and all of the artists had it.  I hope we did not let them down.  (Note: what we asked of the artists was money up front, not commission.  We needed to pay the rent and utilities to secure our building.  This is not an easy thing for artists who live painting to painting, trying to support a family, so every penny that came in was so appreciated.  It spoke volumes to the fact that they believed in it's success, so failure was not an option to me.) 

There was snow and flood, but we overcame :) 

 Needless to say,  I burned the midnight oil, lost a lot of weight, and aged a bit.  But I wouldn't trade a second of it for the world. :)  I love you all!

Dear FiYA Artists,
I would like to thank you so much for your support, faith, and help during the past 3 months.  There are too many to thank, but from opening week there were artists who just seemed to know what to do without asking and I will be forever grateful. From the artist that brought cupcakes, to the ones that came in to demo, 

 to those that drove 8 hours to paint in the window, 
and local art friends who painted in the other window while the other artists mingled and sold their wares......

and there were  others who watched the shop while I made the last minute dash to the stores to shop, I will not forget your kindness.
Then there were memories of loved ones past..... Miss you Scott 

 It wasn’t always easy, but it was a tremendous experience and learning lesson.  I am not sure what 2 artists with no business experience and 8 kids between them thought they were doing starting up a venture such as FiYA with little more than a month’s notice, but it turned out to be far more amazing than anyone imagined, thanks mostly to the artists that believed that a small Midwest city like Findlay, Ohio deserved an art experience the likes of which are seen in the big cities.  Customer after customer would come in and rave about the artwork, and comment on how Findlay really needed something like this.  One customer, who came in no less than 6 times over the past two months, making purchases every time, visited me on the last day.  Her final words as she walked out the door (with more artwork in hand ) were “Thank you for doing this, you gave me hope” I’m still not quite sure what she meant by that entirely, but everybody needs a little hope, right Margie?

I learned a lot about the retail end of art sales over the course of the past few months and it was very interesting to see what people were interested in, what made them hesitate when making a purchase, and more importantly what it took to close a sale.   I am not a salesperson, and as I customer, I also do not like a pushy sales clerk.  However, on Christmas Eve, a gentleman came in, took a few steps in with interest, and then almost immediately started back out the door.  A friend of mine who was helping with the last minute shoppers that day, called out to him: “Wait, don’t leave!” He stopped and turned around, and she engaged him in a conversation about our Christmas Eve special that day.  He clearly felt out of place among the higher priced items, but the special was a free pendant ($12 value) with $10 purchase, an offer hard to refuse.  After learning he had a wife and 5 year old daughter, his choice was narrowed down after only 45 minutes of thoughtful shopping.  He even left with some soap and a nail file as well.  As he paid, he could barely contain his pleasure at his purchases, saying his wife and daughter were so hard to buy for, and he was happy to give them something different.  This is a story I heard over and over during the past 2 months and I wish you all could hear what I did about your work.  I have many more stories to tell of good times with the customers and hope to share them on the FiYa page in the months ahead.    Stay tuned J

Some of you may want to know if the Gallery was a success. How much did the store make, who sold the most, what sold the best.  Those are questions I hesitate to answer for many reasons.  The biggest reason is that you cannot put a monetary value on how your art impacted each and every customer that came in.  It was absorbed, admired, gazed at, wished for, and filed away for future purchases.  I cannot measure for you the enormous success that the gallery was in my mind, perhaps financially for many artists, but mostly the impression your art made upon our customers.  For some of you, the momentum of the gallery inspired you to pursue your work with even more excitement and inspiration.  In my scale of measurement, I was blown away by the success of the the gallery, and it could not have happened without a single one of the artists that participated, because every one of you encouraged me along the way and gave me a reason to keep going when the going got tough.  Thank you from the bottom of my heart.    

(However, for those of you gifted with both sides of the brain engaged and would like to know specific numbers, monthly or biweekly sales breakdowns, and the boring stuff, feel free to contact me and I will be happy to share that with you. )

Do I have any regrets?  Yes.  The biggest regret (my fault…. this is one of those “hindsight is 20/20” things) is that many of you did not get to experience the reactions of people when they came into the gallery.  It was of amazement and endless questions and compliments, joy, laughter, hugs.    So many of the customers wished they were shopping for themselves and not others.  Next year, it will be so important that the artists get into the store to experience the customers and a typical gallery day, because it was the day to day stories and interactions with the customers that mattered so much more than the sale. 
Anyway, I have much more to share, but checks to put in the mail!  Thank you so much for believing in this dream, I will never forget it.

Kristen.the artist that brought cupcakes, to the ones that came in to demo,  to those that drove 8 hours to paint in the window: