Show Review of the Month ARToberFEST Galveston

August 2022, by Sunshine Artist Editor

The work of Boubakary Konseimbo, who lives in Santa Fe, New Mexico. 
Photo courtesy of Boubakary Konseimbo 

October 16-17, 2021; ARToberFEST, Galveston, TX. Contact: Grand 1894 Opera House, Sarah Piel, 2020 Postoffice St., Galveston, TX 77550; Phone: 409-457-9780; Email: info@artoberfest.com; Website: www.artoberfest.com; Application fee: $15; Space fees: $200 to $400; Space sizes: 10x10 to 10x20; Hours: 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday and 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday; 100% outdoors; Exhibitors: 120; Admission: $5. 

Compiled from FastAudit reports 

ARToberFEST is a two-day, outdoor, fine art festival that is held in Galveston’s historic Downtown Cultural Arts District. 

Many artists reported high sales and a buying crowd. 

An artist who listed painting as the medium gave every category a 10. “I did very well. All the customers and other vendors were very supportive,” the artist said. 

The sales for an artist whose mediums were fine craft, arts and crafts, and other totaled $3,200. The average sale was $40. This artist gave all the categories high marks and hopes to be invited to the festival in the future, saying, “It’s great. I love Galveston!” 

A digital artist reported sales of about $2,200. An artist who did not list a medium described sales as about average but rated the overall event higher. That artist would participate in the show again and provided some feedback for the promoter. “The admission desk at Gate 4 interfered with (the) flow pattern of attendees. This impacted booths 43 and 58. A large number of attendees made the U-turn before siting the corner booths. Rubbish bins were needed at Gate 4,” said this artist. 

Another artist who did not list a medium rated sales as slightly above average and again gave high marks for all the other categories being rated. The artist described the festival as well organized and managed and said it has a good location. 

An artist listing jewelry and fiber arts as the mediums reported sales of $4,800, with the average sale being $75. “Great show. Will definitely be back next year,” the artist wrote. “Fantastic staff, great attendance, ran smoothly, quality fellow artists. Sarah Piel is an outstanding festival director.” 

An artist whose mediums were painting and fiber arts saw sales of $1,800. “Great show — people were friendly and interested. Easy, well attended show. Artist support and event well managed. High level of artist communication and guidance,” said the artist who would do the show again. 

An art glass artist said the festival is close to home and has a good crowd. The sales for this artist totaled $3,000. The artist provided some feedback for the promoter, saying load in/out was “easy for us since we were at the end of the street. Overall, very well organized. Organizers very responsive to questions. Quality of work seemed to vary.” 

An artist whose medium was other had sales of $2,000 and described the event as a great experience overall with flexible set-up times, great security, and excellent crowds. The artist said the organizers made the show easy, and it is put together well. “Attendance is always excellent,” the artist said. 

A jewelry artist whose sales totaled $3,000 also commented on the attendance and event management. “Sarah (Piel) and the team do a great job of load in and out, help with the artists, and good promotion,” the artist said. “Easy load in and out, good artist amenities. Parking is nearby, and you can sleep in your RV in the artist parking.” 

The fact the show’s layout is on three city blocks makes it easy for attendees to view the entire show, the artist noted. “Great attendance from people that have a second home on the island. We always enjoy coming here and look forward to it,” the artist said. 

An artist whose mediums included mixed media, digital art, and art glass said it was the third year showing at the event. “One of our best shows of the year,” said this artist who made $10,000. 

The sales for a sculpture artist totaled $4,800. The artist said there is less competition for sales because it is a small show. “This show, along with the local collector base, seems to be growing,” the artist said. “Galveston is more and more becoming a playground for affluent Houston residents.” 

A mixed media artist said the show leadership communicated with the artists and allowed them to make their own decisions when there was a “small, overnight weather hiccup.” 

The artist said, “The winds were fierce and while my tent was not disrupted, we were not able to open it up until late Saturday afternoon. We halted setting up Friday when the threat was rain, as a precaution. Other artists fared worse, so I am not complaining. Galveston has a nice vibration which is a resonance combination of activity, bustle, crowd, and weather, as well as an overall attitude of have a good time.” 

An art glass artist also commented on the weather, noting the winds were 30 to 45 mph. “The entire staff for ARToberFEST did an excellent job. They provided assistance as needed. They were on hand for the entire show,” the artist said. “Sarah Piel came out to the site in the middle of the night to be sure all tents and merchandise were all right. That’s amazing. Sarah has always gone beyond to get things done. This is a great show with many talented artists. The location is great. We did get a lot of people from the cruise ships, too.” 

It was a painter’s second time being part of the event. “Much higher turnout and more buyers than just lookers,” said this artist whose sales totaled $8,500. The artist described load in and out as easy and said the application and booth fees were reasonable. 

A ceramicist said, “This was the best I’ve done at the Galveston show before. Hope it continues!” Sales totaled $2,300 for the artist, who noted many of the customers were from the Houston area. 

A jewelry artist has done the show for more than 12 years and had sales of $4,000. “It is well organized,” the artist said. “I love the promoters and the feel of the show. It is very friendly and well attended.” 

Sales for a printmaker totaled $2,000. “I would recommend this to any artist who is looking for an excellent venue. Staff is very helpful and was there all day, every day,” the artist said. “This show is one of the best. Excellent organization and no complaints.” 

A mixed media artist made $5,000 and said, “Sarah Piel is one of the best directors I have worked with in my 25 years of doing shows. It’s a small show but well attended and you can build collectors. Galveston is a lovely place to spend some days before or after the show!” 

An art glass artist was pleased with the variety of artists and quality of their work. “Excellent attendance year after year. Many repeat patrons looking to add to their collections,” said the artist who had sales of $3,000. 

Also commenting on the quality of artwork was a fine art and craft artist who said it is a good show every year, and “we don’t have to compete with vendors whose items are mass produced in other countries.” 

A painter made $3,500, enjoyed the show, and said the staff took care of every need. “It was one of the best organized shows I have attended. There was a great crowd, and they were buying,” the artist said. 

A fiber artist’s first time at ARToberFEST resulted in sales of $5,000. “Outstanding staff and coordination. Great customers. Easy load in and out,” the artist said. “Received very well by other artists as ‘first-timers.’ Looking forward to next year.” 

Promoter Post Show Report

Sarah Piel described the 24th annual ARToberFEST as a success and said artists had great sales. 

“Artist feedback was super positive, and everyone was pleased to be in person. Customers and artists were very engaged in talking about the work presented. All artists that reported to us said it was one of their best years yet,” said Piel, the festival’s director. 

She estimated attendance was 8,500. Something learned at the show that will be improved for future events is to consider providing tents for booths in the food and farmers market area. She said those vendors do not have commercial grade tents that do well with wind, even if it is not very much. 

Piel said the best thing they did other promoters might learn from was they had a particular person designated for social media at the event. “They were like a roving reporter that reported live and continually did Facebook Live posts and spoke to artists about their work,” she said. 

Her message to those considering the festival in the future is this show has a great vibe. “You will not find a team that works harder to make your show experience a good one,” Piel said. “We have a friendly team and load out and load in go very quickly.” 

A clay piece by Tony Holman, of Plano, Texas.
Photo courtesy of Tony Holman
The work of wood artist Mark Mallia, who lives in Austin, Texas. 
Photo courtesy of Mark Mallia 
Metal artwork by Adam Weiss, of Fort Calhoun, Nebraska. 
Photo courtesy of Adam Weiss 

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