Art festival draws big crowds downtown

Posted Sunday, Apr. 21, 2013  comments  Print Reprints

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FORT WORTH -- Warmer weather brought big crowds to the Main St. Arts Festival this weekend, but whether that translated into big art sales has yet to be evaluated.

The artists who have populated downtown since Thursday said that selling their work is only one of the reasons they like coming to the Fort Worth festival.

Bruce Niemi, who has exhibited his massive sculptures during the art festival for at least 15 years, said many of the people who stop by his display tell him they cannot afford to purchase any of his art.

A piece no more than 6 inches tall might cost $500, Niemi said.

But educating people about his art and getting an opportunity to talk to art lovers are important attractions that cannot be discounted, Niemi said. And there were a lot of people to educate.

The weekend crowds were overwhelming, almost too good, Niemi said.

"You get so many people out here they can't get out of the crowd to see the work," he said.

Commissioned sales that grow from his appearances in Fort Worth make the trip from Kenosha, Wis., where Niemi is based, more than worth his while. This year, four potential customers have agreed to continue discussions about work they want Niemi to pursue, he said.

And while the economy in some regions of the country has slipped in recent years, the Texas economy has remained robust, several artists said.

"I've been making sales in Texas since 2008, and sales in some other parts of the country have dried up," Niemi said.

Lynn Patterson of Richardson, who weaved through the crowd Sunday wearing a copper bracelet and carrying four prints purchased at the festival, said one of the reasons she attends is to help support the artists.

"So many of the artists you meet here are from Texas," Patterson said. "When you spend money here you support the local economy."

There may be 20 A-list art shows that you want to have on your résumé, said Brianna Martray, a Pittsburgh sculptor who is in Fort Worth for the first time. Fort Worth is one of them, she said.

Martray said she made more than enough money to pay for her trip and has a little left over for gas to get her back home. But that's not the important part.

"So many people feel like they will never buy a sculpture," she said. "I hope I'm creating the idea that they can have one of my pieces in their front yard one day."

Mitch Mitchell, 817-390-7752

Twitter: @mitchmitchel3

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