The following article by Michelle Marcotte was published by the Buffalo News on June 30, 2017

 

 

Buffalo News reporter Mark Sommer (June 10) reporting on the Allentown Art Festival. made a pithy observation when he wrote, “Yes, tens of thousands look at art in the hundreds of booths that line several streets. And they buy food from vendors.” True and True.

 

Artists, whose work does not usually provide enough income to live on, or even to pay for their art supplies, pay hundreds of dollars, each, to set up a booth at any of the several art festivals in Western New York. It is a lot of work to bring your paintings, photography, pottery, sculpture or jewelry, set up the booth and then, with hope in your heart, just watch people walk by, barely taking the time to look at your work, and rarely buying anything other than food. Fine artists, with more expensive works, very rarely, often never, sell anything. We offer a range of small things such as cards, calendars or plaques hoping to cover some expenses.

 

People flock to art festivals as a free, fun thing to do on the weekend. And the sales tell the story. People buy food from the many food vendors who do pay higher fees than the artists to be there. But artists, who actually provide the reason for the art festival, often sell very little art. I believe most of the artists do not sell enough to cover the cost of the booth space.

 

Essentially, artists are paying a hefty and increasing price to provide free entertainment for the public. We cannot afford to keep doing so. Festival organizers have used the funds to grow big organizations and to pay for other cultural events. Local businesses profit. People have a fun, free event. But artists, pay for it.  

 

Festival organizations that continue to increase costs for artists, without examining the effect on artists, without considering profit sharing, without considering even asking the tens of thousands of visitors for an entrance fee or donation, should realize they have built an unsustainable house of cards on the backs of artists. Arguing that some of the booth fees go to cash awards to a small handful of artists is not persuasive. The cash awards are often awarded to the same artists, and often to that cadre of professional out-of-town, travelling, art-festival artists. Again, these artist cash awards are taken from artists, those who can least afford it.  

 

Festival attendees who do not contribute towards the costs of the festival and who do not buy art from local artists should realize their free entertainment is not sustainable.

 

Artists are stuck. We need to sell our work. Art museums have no budgets, and sometimes no inclination, to buy the work of local artists. Grants, are few and far between and usually offer less than $3000 for a year’s work. Artists are supposed to be grateful for the ‘exposure’ of being in an art festival, but ‘exposure’ only pays the bills in very few, very shady, professions!

 

So here is what I suggest: festival organizers need to cut booth rentals for artists by half. Yes, this will mean less money for your organization, and this reduces the funds available for other culture events, but you have built your organization on an unsustainable premise. Approach government and local businesses to increase their sponsorship. Raise the rates for food vendors. Charge people $1-$2 per person to attend. Allow artists to share booths to further decrease their costs.

 

Visitors, you should contribute to the costs by paying an admission fee; even $1-$2 per person would help ensure festivals, and the artists who make it all possible, survive. And for heaven’s sake, buy art from local artists! Buy your paintings, pottery, garden sculpture, photographs, jewelry, gifts, etc., for your home, office and family from local artists. If that isn’t possible, buy their cards, calendars or whatever.   

 

Government funding organizations, should gather data on sales made by artists at the festivals to evaluate and report on the festivals to help improve artists’ incomes. Data about the economic spin festivals provide local communities is also needed. Don’t keep funding festivals that continue to raise rates for artists without making the fundamental business changes that will ensure sustainability for artists.

 

Michelle Marcotte is an artist in Lewiston. See her work at www.michellemarcotte.com

 


Hello foodies and art lovers. I will be exhibiting my original food paintings, some giclee originals and my greeting cards (www.sayitwithvegetables.com), at the Taste of Lewiston (NY) this Saturday from noon - 8:00 pm. Come and see my work while you enjoy the inexpensive tastings from numerous Lewiston restaurants 


www.sayitwithvegetables.com Greeting Cards feature vegetables, fruit, the occasional piece of cake and laughter.  Over 40 designs with warm, useful, amusing greetings for life's events and tricky situations.

 

Food is full of goodness; our world needs more goodness. Fun, difficult, tricky, warm, friendly, loving things need to be said, and we need to be nice to each other.

So, Sayitwithvegetables was born to help you say the fun, difficult, tricky, warm, friendly, loving and amusing things that need to be said, with goodness at heart.

 

About the artist

Sayitwithvegetables greeting cards are the brainchild of me, Michelle Marcotte, a Canadian-American painter, an artist, and foodie.  Ideas spring up from talking to family and friends, from life, from happy and sad events and in-between. I paint the ideas in oils on canvas with the same care that I paint my fine art paintings. I write each card thoughtfully. The cards are printed by small, family businesses. 

It is a new design approach. Each card is nice enough to be framed as a print in a 5”x7” frame. 


The Buffalo Society of Artists held their juried spring exhibit at the Keenan Center in Lockport NY. My painting, "In the summer of 2015, Ken picked the cherries from our tree, I made cherry cheesecake and our dog Annie Vick died." was given an award by juror wrote the following:

 

".......I would be remiss to not mention Michell Macotte’s painting, who fully embodied a sense of authenticity, and had one of the greatest titles in the exhibition. 

 

As the gallery director of a contemporary art gallery, who once was a practicing visual artist, one of my greatest joys is doing studio visits with artists.  This is an opportunity for me to get to know the work I am representing on a deeper level, “talk shop”, and understand the deeper context from which the artist is creating it.  I connect the dots by bringing this to my curated experience and also in my deeper discussions with collectors and visitors at our gallery.  While viewing the nearly 200 selections submitted for this show, I looked at each and every work as if I were doing a studio visit with the artist.   It was a joy and an honor to ‘visit’ with them all.    

 

 

John Brunelli

Director, Anthony Brunelli Fine Arts

Binghamton, NY


I am honored to report that the jury of the Buffalo Society of Artists has invited me to be an exhibiting member. This society of professional artists is one of the oldest in North America.

 

 


I write a blog on Art, Food, Travel, Life and Everything on www.niume.com you can go there and subscribe to my blog to see my original art, photos and writing. 

 

Cheers!

Michelle


Political Paintings

Tonight is the first national debate by Hilary Clinton and Donald Trump. I have lived in two countries, worked in federal government, worked for industry, worked internationally, run small businesses, traveled and worked in over 40 countries. It is only in Third World or complete corrupt and dysfunctional countries where I have observed a government leader as inexperienced and unsuitable as Donald Trump. We Americans must seriously acknowledge the disaster he could cause environmentally, economically and internationally and ensure it doesn't happen by voting for the only candidate who can ensure stability and progress -- and that is Hillary Clinton. After having George W Bush we should know by now that the US can not afford to have a not-smart, not-informed, not-thinking, fly-by-the-seat-of-his-pants President.   

 

A vote for anyone other than Clinton helps ensure a Trump presidency. And the other candidates appear just as ill-prepared, unready and unsteady as Trump.

 

These paintings reflect my growing unease through this election cycle. First, as the primaries were running, I painted "Shrimp and Grits and Serenity". It is a political and environmental statement, a reflection of the comforts of home, and also of 'home' being our world.  But, comfort food is not going to be enough to heal this country if Trump is elected. 

 

Second, while the national conventions were running, I painted "NY State Primary Election of 2016". It depicts the two candidates who were worthy of national attention and who offered real policy plans and programs: Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders. They are represented as roses, since that is the national flower of the US and the NY State flower. Hillary is the tall, strong, mature yellow rose; a yellow rose represents  joy, friendliness, and forgiveness. Socialism has traditionally been signified by a red rose, so the shorter red rose signifies Bernie. The two dill pickles at the bottom represent Donald Trump and Ted Cruz, the only two candidates who had any chance in the NY primary at that time. The other Republican candidates are stuck in the vinegar in the old-fashioned canning jar. This is set against a symbolic background of NY state, from the viewpoint of Lewiston NY, where I live. You will see the two Great Lakes, the Niagara River, Manhattan Island and Canada in red. 

 







Vote Smart!

   


I have again organized the Niagara River Region Artists' Studio Tour, this year for October 8th. You can start anywhere and see the homes/studios of 9-10 artists in one day in Lewiston and Youngstown. 

 

Start at my house at 468 Fort Gray Dr., in Lewiston and see my paintings (including the food paintings done as part of my NY State Council on the Arts grant for Niagara County), and you will also see the woodworking shop of Ken Vick, the furniture maker (see his work at kenvickwoodworker.com)

 

We would be happy to welcome you to our home.