ARTNOTES: Finding the Heart of High Point Market
High Point Market was a success for a few key showrooms with design and heart. Yes, heart. People don’t buy furniture from companies: people buy from other people. It is the belly-to-belly connection which seals a sale, and makes the customer want to come back to that showroom again. It’s one thing to buy a book on Amazon.com, but it’s another to see the lavender in the background of a painting. A fellow salesman described a painting to me: “I can see how the brush laid the paint on the canvas and each stroke takes my breath away.” It’s not the same online, ordered from abroad.
Business, in general, seemed to be slightly brisker than in April. A good friend, at an uptown showroom, sold two 40-foot containers of furniture the first day. People who came to market came to buy, and all the invitees we saw, but one, bought a painting from us. Traffic was off, is all.
This market we were once again camped out at the far end of the complex. Last spring, the showroom owner announced we would relocate to a more mainstream location; it wasn’t until August we learned they opted to stay put. We couldn’t back out –like telling someone you’ll come to dinner, you can’t change your mind when you find out the menu is hot dogs. As Vinny says, there are three keys to success: location location location. We should have quit the hot dogs, manners be damned.
Our location was so remote, some “go-vans”, which shuttle folks around market, didn’t know where the Atrium was. One day, in a lucky catch of a van, I hopped aboard to travel north to friends in the “designer” district of the furniture market.
“What do you think is happening there?” the driver asked me, pointing to the sidewalk, mid block ahead. “I think that woman has fallen,” I replied and suggested we help her out. Sure enough, not only had she fallen, but she was nine months pregnant, and in labor. “Would you mind?” the driver asked, “if we bring her to hospital?”. I encouraged the move, and helped the woman get into the van. The driver mounted the “out of service” placard, and we sped in direction of the hospital. I never found out if it was a boy or a girl.
Market visitors like us stay in the home of High Point area residents, as there are a limited number of hotel rooms in the city. This time, we stayed with a friend, a school teacher. She asked me if I would consider teaching a fourth grade art class.
I have never thought of myself as a teacher, but business was slow, and I needed excitement and inspiration. Sure enough, at 8:05 on Monday morning, two dozen smiling fourth-grade faces filed into the room. The class had been studying the many applications of art in life: interior design, graphic design, architecture, teaching, ART.
“What is a professional artist?” the teacher asked. Hands raised: one who paints all the time; an artist who sells their paintings! The super smart class asked about what my paintings sold for. “Did you ever sell one for more than a thousand?
Questions continued, as I set up my easel. “What shall I paint?” I asked, looking out the window. ME was the universal reply. So a painted a number of students, at their tables, in the classroom. It was a modest 12 x 24 inch canvas. I had about thirty minutes to complete the work. I rushed: no eyes or noses, one boy’s shirt, another boys hair; a girl with a hand on her hip. I was compelled to finish the painting and have it look good. “I’ll give you $24.00 for it!” someone exclaimed.