The art of sharing
By Amy Lavalley Post-Tribune correspondent March 8, 2013 5:00PM
Artist Anita Ann Johnson presents "Stepping Into the Art Fair World" March 3, 2013, at the Chesterton Art Center. Topics included applying, preparing and what to bring when an artist presents work for sale at art fairs. | Michael Gard~For Sun-Times Media
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Updated: April 11, 2013 6:34AM
Anita Ann Johnson wants other artists to learn from her experiences.
So on a recent Sunday, Johnson, of LaPorte, gave a presentation at the Chesterton Art Center that focused on getting into art fairs. Johnson, a painter who works in acrylics and oils, started showing her work at art fairs seven years ago.
“When I first started doing art fairs, I was scared to death. You’re putting yourself out there in a vulnerable way,” she said, adding she also wasn’t much of a saleswoman and tended to “hide” when people approached her booth.
Some of Johnson’s fears were eased by attending her first art fairs as part of an arts league, so the league provided a tent and other equipment she needed, as well as morale support and camaraderie.
“It was great because when I made my first sale, I was a wreck, but I was hooked,” she said. “I loved to paint and somebody loved my artwork.”
The art center features speakers and demonstrations throughout the year, said director Judy Gregurich, and because this is the time artists are looking at art fairs, this was a good time to do a program on the topic.
Wire wrap artist Jayde Peterson, of Chesterton, came to hear Johnson’s tips. While Petersen, who makes wire jewelry, was invited to have a booth at the Schoolhouse Shops off of U.S. 20, she hasn’t had much luck doing other shows.
“I love being around creative people. They feed off each other. They get it — the joys and the disappointments,” she said.
Johnson said the art world sometimes can be “dog eat dog,” but she likes helping people and “there’s room at the table for everyone.”
She provided tips on everything from the type of cart to get to lug artwork around to where to find listings of upcoming art shows. She also said following directions when applying for a juried show is a must, because applications are tossed — regardless of how talented an artist is — if an application isn’t up to snuff.