Thursday, September 16, 2010

Music Bustin' Out All Over

This past Sunday I was at the Mount Mary's Starving Artist Show in Milwaukee, WI. The Starving Artist show is probably the most remarkable art fair in the country -- almost certainly the best selling day for pottery of all kinds anywhere, any day.

The show is held on a grassy area the size of a soccer field. The area is surrounded by bright orange drift fence. Though the gates don't open until the college tower bells strike 10 AM, the patrons begin to line up outside that drift fence no later than 6 AM. Armed with newspapers and other reading material, coffee, smiles, and quiet conversation, the line of people waits patiently for that 10 AM bell.

And the crowd grows. And grows. And grows. It grows until the lines at both entrances snake the entire length of that soccer field-drift fence, and then disappear around the corner. When the 10 AM bell does finally ring, the patrons race inward toward their favorite artist(s) to get their pick of work.

photo by Char terBeest Kudla

And why do they line up, and why do they rush in?

...because everything the artists bring to sell at the Starving Artist Show must be priced below $100. And MANY, if not all the artists, bring work that is regularly priced over $100 and sell it at the discount price. My good friend, Brian Beam, brought bowls that he regularly sells for over $300, and jars he sells for even more. Same with the nationally known clay team of Steve and Miky Cunningham who were selling mirrors and other pottery items for WAY below their usual show prices.

I've done the show for many years now, and I've never been disappointed.

This past Sunday, I also had the joy of having several of my musician friends from all over the midwest stop by my booth. And they all brought their instruments. Knowing they were coming, I brought my guitar and mandolin as well and we closed out the final hour ....and the hour after the show was closed down, jamming in front of my booth.

My good friend, Linda Kucharski (wife of one of the guitar players, Paul, pictured below) took some photos, and generously shared them with me. Here's one of me with my Shenk guitar...

Here (obviously, the show is over, and trucks have pulled into the grounds to pack up) I am playing with my friend from Minnesota, Editor at Minneapolis Star Tribune, and professional guitar player, singer/songwriter, Bill Hammond. ...

Here's my good friend, Marty Reynolds. Marty is a VERY well-known luthier/stringed instrument repair guy for the famous "The Podium" guitar store in Minneapolis. Marty has worked on the guitars of such musical luminaries as Leo Kottke and Pat Donohue. Here he is playing my Shenk guitar...

Here is that "Paul" I mentioned previously. He's a terrific guitar player who gigs around the western suburban Milwaukee area, as well as doing volunteer work for the "Guitars for Veterans" program. He's a terrific fingerstyle guitar player and founder of the Acoustic Fingerstyle Guitar website. Facing away from the camera is my friend, Marshall Hjertstedt -- a Chicago-area architect, singer/songwriter, and all-around nice guy.

And here Breeze gets in on the action...

Thanks to all my friends for coming by! Thanks for the love and support!


  1. Thanks for the tip John. I logged onto Itunes, looked up Bill Hammond and downloaded a song called Fall Creek from his Speechless CD. All in about 4 and a half minutes, it's a wonderful life!
    There is a Fall Creek in the Santa Cruz mountains where my friends and I would spend all day. I hope to go there again sometime and will play that song on my Ipod and I'm pretty sure it will be cosmic!

    Stephen, in Coon Rapids

  2. Great!

    You may want to make your way down to Roseville where Bill regularly hosts an open mic at the "Coffee Grounds" there. He has several regular gigs in the area.

  3. Great blog entry, John! Art fairs can be about so much more than the work we do. They are about the people we share our lives with. The emense talent that cannot be confined to a 100 square feet.
    It reaches farther than we know!