Art Valet 1

Art lovers enjoy the First Saturday Arts Market in June despite rainy weather. (Contributed photo)

Waking early to the stormy weather Tuesday morning and no electricity got me thinking about rain and art markets.

After producing outdoor art markets for 17 years, I unfortunately have experienced the anxiety of deciding the fate of people's income (as I see it) more times than I can recall.

From the first rainout that I've recounted here, when several artists argued with me to open the market despite the ominous black cloud reaching to all corners of the horizon behind me, I knew I was dealing with a different kind of people ... artists!

Yes, I'm one of those artists and my entrepreneurial spirit of gambling on the multiverse of weather predictions has ended with many drenched artists.

For a society that seems to hinge many conversations on the weather, we seem forever unable to predict it accurately.

In the outdoor market world, the weather or just the predictions of the weather can make or break attendance. With the exception of farmers markets. Farmers have a limited time to move their product, and when has a little water hurt fresh produce anyway? I’ve shopped at farmers markets in the rain, and you’d think it was just as normal as breathing. No one cares.

Artists aren’t so lucky. Rain, even just a little bit, can destroy some art and many displays, especially if caught in a downpour while setting up or breaking down. The same customers that walk in the rain at farmers markets don’t seem as brave when it comes to art.

The No. 1 question I am asked by others planning similar events is how I decide to call off a market due to a forecast. Today, I shall reveal to you, dear readers, my trade secrets. Brace yourselves, because there may be some humor mixed in.

I like to quote, at least in part, my favorite movie weatherman Phil Connors, of "Groundhog Day," who said, “I make the weather!”

Nothing aggravates me more than weather people reporting news contrary to what I believe will happen. A positive attitude is what it’s all about, right?

If one positive attitude can change the weather, then getting several dozen artists on board should do the trick in my mind.

I’ve created some ground rules when it comes to discussing weather and upcoming events for the artists.

Rule No. 1 is to not talk about the weather, and absolutely, under any circumstances, say or write the word "rain." Ever. Ever, ever.

The second rule may fall under old wives’ tales, in which case refer back to my favorite quote. There shall be no cursing, spitting, car washing or any other activity that may anger the weather gods.

The third rule is to not pay any attention to weather news. Again, if in doubt, refer back to the quote.

With all the rules behind us, I can tell you that artists, in fact, are quite clever when it comes to dealing with rain.

Here’s a short list of the rainy day “tools” I’ve seen artists have at hand: trash bags, tent walls, pool noodles, resealable plastic baggies, towels, laminated paperwork and a good story.

When it rains, people will naturally congregate in the nearest place with cover. And guess what? Tents are great for cover! Artists with a good story and easy conversation may find that rainy day markets can be profitable after all.

You've probably guessed that there are no trade secrets. Just a healthy dose of common sense and faith.

On the upside of all this is one sobering thought: There are only 12 days out of 365 that I have to concern myself with weather. Regardless, I still won’t say "rain" the week of an event!

Cohen is an artist and founder of the First Saturday Arts Market and the Market at Sawyer Yards. Find him at for additional highlights, artist’s stories and how to use a pool noodle properly with a tent.

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