Best UNplaza Art Fair Ever!

By Jane Stoever

Fifty-five artists who’ve been with the UNplaza Art Fair before combined with 51 first-timers to make the 2018 fair PeaceWorks’ best-seller of them all. For the second year, we staged the fair at Southmoreland Park in KC MO. The fair brought out a crowd on Saturday, Sept. 22, and we had fewer customers on a Chiefs-home-game Sunday, Sept. 23.

This year, our 28th annual fair, artists’ gross sales exceeded $97,000, a record, reports PeaceWorks Treasurer Dave Pack. Artists receive 75 percent of sales up to $1,500 and an increasing percentage for sales over $1,500. If we add to the $97,000 the $25 application fee from 106 artists ($2,650), the sale of 51 PeaceWorks T-shirts ($765), and the $67 in raffle tickets, the “take” exceeds $100,482 (most of which has been paid to the artists). Expenses were high and are yet being tallied.

Photos by Mark and Jenny Semet

Thanks to “the PeaceWorks family,” starting with the artists, for the beautiful, bountiful fair! And thanks to KKFI Community Radio, 90.1 FM, for announcing our fair on PSAs and four weekly programs. See more pictures and videos here.

A few artists crammed into my shuttle car Saturday evening to ride to their own vehicles. “On a scale of 1 to 5, where 5 is best, how do you rate the fair?” I asked. “Ten!” said one artist. The others weighed in at 5 or 6. On a late Sunday shuttle drive, the husband/assistant of Weichi Cheng told me, “It’s not about the money. Ten minutes before the fair’s closing today, someone saw my wife’s painting of a whale shark and bought it. The woman had been looking for a whale shark—her husband, who was very ill, had wanted to swim with the whale sharks before he died, and he did get to do that. His wife was so grateful my wife had painted the world’s largest shark!” (Weichi’s husband has written about the woman’s joy at finding the painting.)

This year’s fair wove music into the mix. Ann Suellentrop played “sax to the max” both mornings, including “When the Saints Go Marching In,” “Morning Has Broken,” and “This Little Light of Mine.” Gulleywasher, the duo of violinist Susan Brewington and her husband, guitarist Chris Hudson, floated their happy sound out over the park Sunday afternoon. Artist/musician Jem Razz played his bass guitar.

Photos by Mark and Jenny Semet

A family with a young (8 years old?) boy visited Jem’s tent. The child asked how much the Running Horse painting cost. “$20,” Jem said. “I only have $5,” said the boy. “I’d love for you to have it for $5,” said Jem. “I just got here, and I have to look around first,” the boy replied. Hours later, he came back for his horse.

“This is how love, peace, justice, and magic are made,” said Henry Stoever, chair of the PeaceWorks Board.

One fair-goer lost a cellphone. Someone turned it in, and a PeaceWorks member passed the phone to Ann Suellentrop, the fair’s art director. Another fairgoer seemed worried that the person giving Ann the phone might have stolen it. “Oh, no!” Ann said. “We’ve known each other for years. Most of us working this fair are like family!”

Photos by Mark and Jenny Semet

Fifty-three volunteers helped the PeaceWorks Board to staff the fair. Peace-keepers met the city’s request for security (we paid night guards, but five PeaceWorks members covered the day shifts). Twenty-five cashiers processed some 2,800 sales receipts, many for several pieces of art. Seventeen crossing guards took turns on Oak and Warwick. Six volunteer shuttle drivers brought people to and from the fair, the free UMKC parking lot, and the All Souls Used Book Sale.

With the happy swarm of artists, customers, and volunteers, one artist predicted, “It’ll be bigger next year!”

—Jane Stoever is a PeaceWorks member.

Man hanging origame peace cranes.