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Morning rays, Cañon de Chelly

Monday, December 4, 2017

Pouring through the wreckage

I crashed and burned in Los Angeles. Again. The city of the angels has always been the place where I have had my most spectacular failures but this particular one might be one for the books.

Pasadena Bustamante was the worst show I have had in over 25 years of shows and business. In fact I didn't make a sale for the entire show or setup, not until the bell had officially rung and the show was officially over did a trio of Filipino brothers enter the picture at the stroke of show midnight and mercifully buy something. But not enough. Never before in my existence as a purveyor of paintings and decorative art have I had such an epic run of disaster.

I could have just reached into my bank account and pulled two grand out and lit it on fire, with hotels, case, booth cost and food. Would have saved some dough and some wear on the vehicle.

Tough to blame anybody else or even myself for that matter. I had a beautiful booth, lovely paintings and objects, just couldn't click, didn't resonate, failed to make it happen. The Los Angeles implosion, has happened so many times before. Smiling face and pleasant demeanor notwithstanding, I was kryptonite.

Of course I never really felt well either and that can't help. Bad Korean food the first night at a shabu shabu joint across from the Rodeway Inn where I was staying on Colorado. Worst bibimbap I ever ate and unfortunately I threw it up all over my shirt, pants, steering wheel and seat the next morning on the way to the show. I have a queasy stomach in the morning these days.  Had to go back to the room and change clothes, it was totally gross, I felt like a venetian fountain dolphin as I hurled a perfect fountain of puke in my van.

But never think that things can't get worse because they always can. Don't worry, I won't gross you out any more than I already have. Car key battery went out, couldn't get in, finally figured out how to avert disaster, food never got much better, kept hustling, kept smiling but unfortunately the week was just not to be.

Bought a couple things at the PCC swap meet yesterday morning, not enough potential profit to really make amends but you can never stop grinding in my field, like a circus seal on top of a spinning ball.

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Certainly can't blame the promoter. In fact talking with Mr. Bustamante was the highlight of the show. Although Leslie and I did his shows many years ago I have only gotten close enough to freely converse with him the last couple years. I admire him greatly. Forty seven years in the business, a long career serving his country in the military, he exudes class and dignity. I can listen to him for hours.

But a changing market and high rents is causing his and all antique shows to suffer. Los Angeles is one of the toughest markets in the country. LA = blasé. West side buyers, who tend to be a bit hipper, won't always travel to Pasadena because of traffic. The Persian market for glitz and bling has softened the last few years. West side shows like the Los Angeles Modernism shows have suffered post closure of the Santa Monica Civic. The new Objects of Art show downtown had serious problems with its gate. The monthly shows we used to do like the Glendale show and Pickwick have been gone for eons. Modern Times was fabulous but it bit the dust as did the Golden California. Nothing left at Glendale.

I have heard harbingers of doom forecast that all the antique shows in the country are facing a similar fate, venerable shows like Miami and Baltimore even. That wait a year or two and we might not have any shows left in California or anywhere else for that matter.

What's the point of decorative art when we have Walmart and Ikea? Or when you can buy a decent digital reproduction that will fool at least 70% of your friends? At a time when a third of the country can't tell you which ocean is on the left side of the United States or name even one of the three branches of government. The great dumbing down is in full swing. We are hip deep in the winnowing. Enjoy the ride.

5 comments:

Anonymous said...

My GOP friend sold used car parts and old weird tools (that he picked up for change at yard sales) at a hot rod swap meet show at Glendale CC. Double space cost $60- He made $1000 bucks in 4 hours. Go figure.....
This country is on a huge dumb-down.

Anonymous said...

That's a cool $8000 down the shitter for that Objects O'Fart show that had NO
attendance, repeat NO attendance. Comparatively, you MADE money at $0.

Millard

Jon Harwood said...

Well, I am pretty well aligned with all other the old farts since the days of King Tut who are certain that the world has been infested with stupidity and the oncoming generation doesn't stand a chance of making it for ten years once we "wise ones" are gone. Still, there may be some other factors in the decline of decorative and antique art. Fer instance, when have you met a millennial who can even imagine buying a house to put decorative art in? If rising rents may get you evicted from the first place you got after ten years of living in Mom's basement, decorative art may not yet be on one's radar. Job instability is also a standard factor these days, so thinking of any kind of long term investment (like buying durable goods) may not be in one's awareness. The uses to which intelligence are put these days appear different also as people are directed to ephemeral and changing images on screens. Could it be that decorative art is now in the form of icons, memes and splash screens? I dunno. I hope not.

Anonymous said...

lets gt down to brass tacks, angelenos are toxic, jaded misers who throw nickels around like manhole covers.

Anonymous said...

Classic is the new name for vintage, which was the new name for antique, which was the name for old junk.