Monday, January 31, 2011

The Atlanta International Gift & Home Furnishings Market, lots of snow and an amazing group of artists!

The last several weeks have been a whirlwind around my studio!!!  It just seems that there were not enough hours in the day. As the holidays were coming and going, I was preparing for a trip to Atlanta...a visit to the The Atlanta International Gift & Home Furnishings Market in downtown Atlanta.

If you have never been to the market, here is a bit of info about the AmericasMart.

AmericasMart consists of four integrated buildings offering 800,000 square feet of space specifically designed for conventions, meetings, special events and trade shows. AmericasMart brings together buyers and sellers in 15 annual markets to introduce the latest in fashion and products to buyers who come to purchase product for resale. The two largest shows each year are featured as their "show" season. One market season will be in beginning weeks of January, and the other is given in the middle of July. Other smaller shows are also offered throughout the year. The mart's mix of specialty products are presented in permanent showrooms and temporary exhibit halls with 7,700,000-square-foot space. Retailers from every U.S. state and more than 80 countries worldwide attend the markets, which attract 548,000 attendees each year. Most recently, AmericasMart opened Building 2 West Wing in January 2009 to offer more than 1.5 million additional square feet of product space.
AmercasMart's product mix covers the broad gift, home furnishings and area rug landscape This mix is enhanced by a collection of temporary products during each of the annual markets. These "market-within-a-market" exhibits contain gift, home furnishings and apparel and accessories merchandise.

Sounds like quite a place, doesn't it? Actually if you don't have a plan (or a map) you can end up like a mouse in an endless maze searching for your cheese.
Whatever you do, wear comfortable shoes! 

Getting to Atlanta in the middle of January was a bit challenging for many of us around the country. Unusual weather and snowstorms certainly put a bit of a damper on travel plans. Although I was leaving from sunny Florida...getting into the Atlanta Airport was "iffy" at best due to the weather.

Upon my arrival at about 7:30 a.m.on Wednesday, just peeking through the tiny window on the plane, this as my initial view of the snow blanket that mother nature had dropped on the city. I was grateful I had made it!

Once I reached the Omni Hotel, I realized the walk of about three to four blocks though the Olympic Centennial Park to the mart would provide an interesting journey each day for this Floridian. The first few days the streets and sidewalks were mostly covered by frozen slush, which would have been perfect if I had ice skates.  Walking in the middle of the street seemed to be the norm unless you wanted to do the slip and slide on the ice.

I had to chuckle when I came upon this sight in the middle of the road! Although the weather had warmed slightly after the first couple of days, it was still cold enough for this wonky little snowman to survive.

After being greeted by the little snow dude, I then looked up to see the skyline here with the flags waving from so many different countries on this walkway from the 1996 Olympic summer games. It seemed to be a picture postcard sort of day. I totally forgot about the chill in the air and enjoyed the view!

Finally clear streets and a much easier walk to the mart, but this view only shows a small portion of the huge market. Once inside, while walking the showrooms you'll see all the new products, some new color schemes and some things that were trendy but never seem to go roosters. Also, it seems that owls are making their way back into home decor and some paper products.  So, go dig that owl planter out of your closet and prop it back into your living room or garden!

After a long day at the show on Thursday, artists gather in the evening to socialize and chat about the events of the day at Paula and Tom's place....but where were they hiding when I took this photo? Paula?  Tom?.... It was a great time!  Thank you Paula & Tom.

After the show on Friday evening we had a gathering of the creative minds at the Westin Hotel. Any excuse to get together was our motto! As most of us work alone in our studios, connecting with others in our industry at these events is an enormous boost for the creative spirit.  

The highlight of my visit was connecting with manufacturers I work with day in and day out as well as meeting with new clients. It is always exciting to see my art on products displayed in the showrooms. Here are my new garden flags for Valentine's Day and Spring on display in the garden area of the mart. There are lots of new projects in the works, so stay tuned for new products to be released soon! 

                               Looking forward to a HAPPY SPRING...and warmer weather!!!!!!