Eight weeks ago I had 5 paintings stolen from an outdoor art fair.
I don't show at many art fairs any more, although I do think it's a good way for an artist to get started marketing. But every season I choose one, just to get my paintings in front of some people that might not be familiar with my work.
Art fairs aren't easy. Loading and unloading, setting up a display tent and portable walls... It's a lot of schlepping and a lot of driving.
I have done a lot of art fairs since opening my business in 1999. I have never had anything stolen. It is optional to unload your tent on the Saturday night between show days. I never do. All shows hire security and I always trust it. So Saturday at 5:00 I zipped up my tent and drove back to Southampton.
When I came back Sunday morning, I opened my tent and immediately noticed that the painting I had been working on during the show- yes, they took a WET painting - wasn't on its easel. It wasn't long before I also noticed gaping, empty spaces on my walls and it began to dawn on me what had happened. My reaction wasn't subtle. I let out a moan that brought people running. After about an hour, I calmed down and filed a report with the police. Then, although I hated to give up a whole day of a show, I packed up and went home. Just wasn't in the right frame of mind.
When I woke up Monday morning - well, I didn't really sleep - I started making calls. It was pretty discouraging.
The show sponsors were not liable - I had signed a disclaimer when I applied. My insurance company was pretty firm too - no claim could be made since I don't have a separate policy covering my artwork. (Something I am currently in the process of changing.) And when I went online to get a copy of the police report, I found out it would take 6 - 9 weeks. (Eight weeks later I have never been contacted.) At the risk of sounding like a whiner, I really felt no one cared.
But I had to do something. So I reached out to the media.
Colleen Reynolds, the reporter at my local paper The Southampton Press, wrote the following article:
I've been approached by a lot of people since the article came out. I guess that makes it kind of a bittersweet experience. I haven't recovered any of the paintings, but I have repainted "The Golden Pear" and I have a show coming up December 1-7 at 4 North Main Gallery. Not exactly how I would have hoped for publicity, but it certainly cushions the blow.