This was the scene at the recent Capitola Art and Wine Festival. Wine was selling as briskly as ever (one of the few truly recession-proof commodities). But many artists, especially among the stalwarts who do this show every year, had to depend on smaller items—cards and prints instead of original art, earrings instead of more elaborate pieces of jewelry—whose sales added up to a show that was good, but not as sensational as in palmier days of yore.
Despite sluggish sales at outdoor shows or in galleries, however, there's a slight uptick in commissions, mostly from private collectors who know exactly what they want and aren't afraid to ask for it. By "collectors," I don't mean philanthropic billionaires cruising in stretch limos, or swanky nobles, à la the Medicis, throwing around purses of gold (not that every artist alive wouldn't love to have a patron like that, but let's try to stay on track, here). In real life, especially here in Santa Cruz, collectors are ordinary working folks with mortgages, families, and property taxes, just like the rest of us. In tough economic times, an artist's best friend can be the collector who already knows and appreciates his or her work.