How to shop the Starving Artists' Show

This is how you shop -- according to three women waiting at the gates since 4:40 a.m.

For years, sisters Chris Benson and Sally Oloizia of Brookfield have met up with Mary Olson of Hartland on the Sunday after Labor Day, waiting for the sun to come up and the Starving Artists' Show to begin.

"We only see each other once a year; we really should get together more often," said Mary.

The three unfold their folding chairs at the corner of Burleigh Avenue and the Menomonee River Parkway, setting them side-by-side where they wait for over five hours, until the 10 a.m. start of the show. As dawn breaks and the entrance line slowly grows behind them, they catch up on one another's lives, with updates on travels, remodeling projects and family.

They wait in comfort, with a blanket spread on the ground to keep their feet dry from dew, they bring coffee, the Sunday paper and blankets to keep them warm until the sun comes up. They are veterans, but only for this show.

"I don't do the early mornings on Black Friday, this is the only thing I am obsessive about," said Chris, who has been coming to the show for 29 years.

"We scout out other fairs throughout the summer and know we will get a great deal here," said Sally. The artists at the show are nationally known; she has seen some of them exhibit in Florida as well as art fairs throughout Wisconsin.

They have some tips to share for next year's show:

  1. Bring cash: That way, buyers can act fast.
  2. Act quickly: If you see something you like, put your hand on it to claim it "or it will walk away," Chris said.
  3. Steer clear: When the bell rings at 10 a.m., stay out of the way of the entrance, as buyers run, not walk, to the booths of their favorite artists.

Most importantly, Mary said it's important to express gratitude for artists who exhibit at this show and agree to sell their work for $100 or less.

"I make a point to compliment these artists, who could be getting a lot more for their work at other shows," said Mary.

The Starving Artists' Show of Mount Mary University is an annual outdoor art show featuring local and national artists who work in all mediums and sell original artwork for $100 or less. A portion of the proceeds from this event fund the Alumnae Endowed Scholarship for students. It is the Association's most significant fundraiser of the year.


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