The Big 500 of 2014


Well, it’s that time again, time again for annual “BIG” show.  It’s actually called THE BIG 500 this year, as every year seems to grow about 100 more.  I’ve discussed this before (just check, look for the tags, or scroll back a ways, it’s not really that far)  –premise is this:  500 artists (it started years ago at 100; its now listed at 500, though I know it’s more like 600 actually participating) get up to 10 (8″x8″) wood panels and approx. 2 months to create whatever art they want, in whatever mediums they want.  These are then shown all together, randomly and are sold for $40 each, cash and carry.  Most of the money goes to the artist, with the remaining going partly to the gallery and partly to Oregon Food Bank.  They also ask that those coming to the show bring a can of food for the Food Bank —

It’s pretty much a win-win for everyone involved.  Artists make some money if their work sells, but even if it doesn’t, its at least been viewed by a very large audience.  The gallery makes very little when the costs are factored in (imagine the cost of all that wood that is bought and cut) but the amount of people being exposed to Peoples Gallery (as well as the 3 other galleries participating:  Mark Woolley Gallery, the Artist In Residence, or A.I.R. Gallery, and the Rotator Gallery) is well worth it.  And while the OR Food Bank doesn’t get much out of one sale, or one person showing up with a can of food, when you multiply those sales by (possibly, if all sold, though I think it’s more than half) 5000, and the opening crowd being over 200 people strong, they do pretty good.

What I enjoy about THE BIG 500 (in no particular order):

The EXPOSURE!  Your artwork gets to be seen (and bought) by HUNDREDS of people, on the FIRST day it’s up!  And because it’s during the Christmas Season, your chances of selling is good!

The PRICE!  Now, I’m a very poor person (i think i’ve got $14 in my bank account right now) but even I can (usually) afford $40 for a unique piece of art.  There’s a group of collectors who LOVE this show, because they know their favorite artists have up to 10 pieces selling dirt cheap.  It’s true, with some of these artists, its a rarity to get their art at $40.

The CHALLENGE!  I’m sure some artists can just crap out masterpieces (bully for them) but for many I know, it’s a challenge to make 10 works of art in 2 months –And that’s OK.  Challenge Accepted!!!  I  find it usually works something like this:  I immediately have ideas for about half, then when crunchtime really gets me, I come up with the rest and more to spare.   They ask that we do “good work, work that people know us by, work that sells”  —and while I don’t disagree with that, I don’t feel like I have “work that people know me by”, and since most of my stuff doesn’t sell (sad) it’s hard to stop myself from making something just because it might not sell.  What I enjoy in the challenge is that in the process I learn so much.  This year I got a lot of practical experience cutting glass, as 7 out of 10 pieces use glass.  One piece in particular I had to remake 3 times because of breaking glass (also the reason for 9 pictures rather than 10).  I also learned a few things about the epoxy I use which could definitely help out in future projects.

The VOLUNTEERING!  It gets SO CRAZY on opening day, but at the same time its SO CRAZY FUN!

The ART!!!  If you don’t look at art all year, this event will take care of all your art-looking needs.  Simple math says that there will be (at least) 5 FRICKIN THOUSAND pieces of art to look at!  You just gotta do it quick, cause by the end of the first day (my guess is that) nearly half of it will disappear.  Even if you don’t show up the first day, there will still be THOUSANDS of quality pieces to buy for the remainder of the show.

that all said–


You should Go!

The Annual BIG 500

Opening 2pm Saturday, Decemeber 13th thru January 11th


in the Pioneer Place Mall, 700 SW 5th Ave, suite 4005

A great time was had…

So yesterday was the opening of the BIG 200, and what a spectacle it was! I volunteered for a 4 hour shift, from 2pm (when the doors opened to the public) to 6pm. Part of me figured I’d have the easier of the shifts, since most art-shindigs really get rollin’ at nite, and I’d be done by then. The other part of me said, “Don’t bet on it”. After all, this wasn’t my first rodeo. Last year the place (then, @ the Goodfoot Lounge) was packed solid -with art and people. But this year the Big 200 occupied 3 large galleries in PDX’s downtown mall. Plus, i thought, there’s lots of stuff going on this weekend: crafty wonderland, milepost 5 was doing a weekend event, and with it being in a mall, it would be diluted down a bit. Still busy, but not chaos, or so i thought. Wrong, wrong, pleasantly wrong i was.
I got there early to help out, and it seemed like we weren’t gonna be ready, but as usual, it really came together in the last minutes. Then the wait –we had a guy on bagpipes who was gonna “pied-piper” people through the mall and bring em up to us on the 3rd floor. Not that it was needed. A half-hour before we opened there was already a good sized crowd. With the piper making his way up, we heard our cue and opened the door. Within 5 minutes i was helping my first customer. By the time i was done with my first transaction, there was a line of 5, and by my second, the line just about reached the door —and stayed this way until 5:30pm.
WOW. Teresa (my fellow retail clerk-volunteer) and I manned one sales desk, with her taking the majority of credit card sales and me doing cash and checks. There was another sales booth in one of the other gallery spaces, but i guess we were the only ones who could do cards —BIG PLUG for the SQUARE ( which is all we used for credit card transactions. So freakin easy! (so now i gotta get a damn smartphone, I’m sold!)
They say time flies when you’re having fun, and lots of fun was had –what better way to look at 2500 pieces of art than to have people bring them to you to buy –and most (most) people understood the reason for the long wait in line (hey, i gave everyone a smile!) –still, it was work, and time was actually being very very slow! That 4 hours felt like 8, but no complaints here.
It was all the more rewarding afterward to go hang out with my friends/fellow artists Scott, Jonathon and Jade down at Virginia’s Cafe, downing some PBRs and having some laffs.

….and who knows, i might’ve sold something!
here’s some pics of various Big200 entries. Part of the Beauty of the Big 200 is that it allows artists of all skill levels to show their work.