With arts festivals being cancelled across the country as a result of COVID-19, the Summerfest Arts Faire in Logan is hoping to drive online traffic to artists suffering from a lack of income.
According to a press release, all the artists accepted for the 2020 Summerfest Arts Faire have been posted on the organization’s website. They will also all be invited for next year’s event.
“We encourage people to browse through our site and buy from the artists there,” said Summerfest Executive Director Elaine Thatcher in the press release. “If you need a gift or want some art or crafts for yourself, you can help artists by purchasing directly from them.”
In an interview with The Herald Journal, Thatcher said many of the artists who participate in Summerfest make a living off of similar arts fairs across the United States during the summer seasons. With the vast majority of the festivals cancelled, Thatcher said the effects have been tough on working artists.
“That’s their annual income,” Thatcher said. “They are struggling.”
K Lynn Rasmussen, a pottery maker based in Hyrum, started ceramics in the 1980s when he attended art school at what is now known as Brigham Young University-Idaho. He took a pottery class to fulfill an elective credit, he said, and was hooked.
“It just became an addiction after that,” Rasmussen said.
Rasmussen and his wife, Kerri, create nature inspired pottery, often incorporating driftwood and other natural elements into their pieces. For Rasmussen, art fairs have become the duo’s main source of income. He said they annually participate in 12 to 15 shows a year in the western region, sometimes selling nearly 200 pieces over the course of three days. Now, Rasmussen said if they sell 200 pieces by the end of the summer they’ll be excited.
“It’s pretty scary,” Rasmussen said. “I’m approaching a period when I’m considering retiring, but what do I retire from? I’m an artist whether I have art shows or not.”
Rasmussen said Kerri has been focusing her efforts into selling their art online, particularly on Etsy. But the oversaturation of artists on the internet presents its own hurdles.
“We do have an email list from years of doing this,” Rasmussen said. “But we kind of feel bad bombing them with messages every 10 days or so.”
According to Rasmussen, they have had success in the past doing “home shows” where they invite people to their home studio to peruse their pottery. They are aiming to revisit the concept this fall.
Nikki Root, an upcycled glass artist based in Providence, said her income has fallen an estimated 90 percent as a result of cancelled art fairs.
“The majority of my sales come from my art shows,” Root said, “and the reason is because people need to see my stuff to really visualize and really know what it is.”
Root uses various pieces of glassware — mostly acquired from estate sales — to construct stained glass-esque pieces of art. For over a decade Root has been participating in art fairs, typically averaging 12 shows a year between the months of April and October. Luckily, Root said art is not her main source of income.
“No, thank heavens,” Root said. “I have many friends whose sole income is through their art, and my heart goes out to them.”
Though she is cautiously optimistic about the future, Root said she has concerns about artists, patrons and the future art shows. Root said the temperature of the country, politically speaking, may also harm the art shows and gives her pause about participating in future.
“COVID I don’t see as the biggest challenge,” Root said. “Our nation is getting so divided, and people are kind of being forced to take sides. And I think big, public gatherings might be a thing of the past.”
For Root and Rasmussen, Boise Art Museum’s Art in the Park is the only art show that hasn’t yet been cancelled. However, Rasmussen said the Boise art show takes 15% of artist earnings, which may not make the trip cost-effective.
“It’s an expensive show,” Rasmussen said. “There may not be the attendance we’re expecting.”
For more information, visit logansummerfest.com.
For artist information, visit etsy.com/shop/rasmussenpottery.