Sunday, November 29, 2015

My annual state convention - NYSATA part 1

The weekend before Thanksgiving, I headed partway across the state to Rochester, NY to attend my annual state NYSATA convention. This post is an overview with a few highlights, and some thoughts on state conventions.  My next post(s) will cover the details of  workshops that I taught and attended.  Here's a view out my Rochester hotel window of a couple of funky buildings in the early morning sunlight.
My car was packed full, because I was teaching 4 workshops (two of them hands-on), and as an exec in my region, I was also responsible for bringing the supplies for a couple of activities at the conference.  And of course my suitcase had to fit in the car, too!

One of those special activities is my brain-child, the "Bling Your Badge" table.  This is our third year with the table, and it is a favorite activity of many convention attendees throughout the conference. Glue guns are plugged in for use all day, and we provide a wonderful selection of materials, including 'jewels', pipe cleaners, ribbons, sequins, buttons, wiggle-eyes, funky felt, and so much more.   As a matter of fact, I had to remind a few people that we should be able to see your NAME on your tag!  They got so carried away adding embellishment that their names were buried!  I'm so proud that this fun table is my idea. 
Our convention usually has around 500-600 attendees.  I'm not sure how many there were this year.  But anyhow, because of the size, we usually hold the convention at a hotel/conference center sort of place.  In my earlier years of teaching, NYSATA conventions were held at Catskill hotels (kind of like the place pictured in the movie Dirty Dancing).  We were a "captive audience" in these hotels, so everyone attended all the meal events and and any evening activities.  There was simply nowhere else to go.  But as these hotels got older and seedier, we eventually stopped going to them, and moved the convention to various locations in the state, usually in areas like Rochester or Albany, which are a more urban environment.  We hold dinner/award events at the convention center/hotel on Friday and Saturday evening, and an award brunch/luncheon on Sunday, but unfortunately, not all conference attendees choose to participate, many instead electing to find a less expensive meal elsewhere.  I'm curious how you combat this problem in your state.  It means a loss of a certain sense of community for those people who don't attend.  But, since many pay for their own meals, it is a choice made out of financial frugality, and I would love a solution that would get all conference participants to attend.
This year, at the Friday night dinner, I was awarded a Special Citation award.  Since I retired, I have represented our region at the state level, and have taken on a lot of regional responsibility.  So I was/am proud to be recognized with this award. 
Unfortunately, before I was notified of the award, I had already signed on to present a "Friday After Dark" hands-on workshop, which meant that instead of celebrating, I was teaching! (No cocktails!)    Many of my fellow region members did not attend the dinner, because they chose to eat elsewhere at less cost.  So again, I'm curious how meals and awards are handled at your state. By the way, I'm dressed in black because I knew we'd be using India ink in my workshop!  
 After our Saturday night award dinner, we always hold a special event in conjuntion with a DJ and dancing and a bar.  We've held TASK parties, a scavenger hunt, and this year there was our first "Partici-Paint" activity!  Each activity was asked to bring the needed materials to create something that could be auctioned off for the NYSATA Scholarship Fund.  Our region chose to paint four mirrors with seasonal themes.  I painted autumn, and there's Kathleen showing off the spring mirror!
 Here's autumn and winter shown together. 
 Other regions chose various projects; two of my favorites were Sharpie doodled stools (below left) and a lovely bench, which was purchased by the gal in my region who painted the lovely winter mirror.
 What kinds of special activities do you have at your convention?  How many people attend?  I'd love to hear what your conferences are like!  (Below, more morning Rochester glow.)
 Of course, we also have a vendor area at the convention.  It seemed like there were a few less vendors this year, though it might just be a matter of perception, since we all agreed that the vendors did not offer their typical bounty of giveaways at their booths.  Usually I come home with a bag full of funky markers and paintbrushes and Cloud Clay or Model Magic samples and more.  This year... no.  I wonder if they will still be giving out samples at the NAEA convention this spring?  Blick did supply it's usual little sketchbook in a zipper pouch, and there were a few other odds and ends here and there, but basically, not much.  I think the exception was Chroma, who gave away loads of little sample bottles of paint, and when they closed up their booth, gave away all their big bottles of paint! As a matter of fact, before one of my workshops, I discovered that the white acrylic I would be using seemed spoiled.  I asked Chroma if any of their small sample bottles contained white, and instead they supplied me with a large bottle of heavily pigmented white acrylic.  Fabulous paint; thank you Chroma! 

In a day or two I'll tell you about the rest of the conference - especially workshops I taught and attended.  In the meantime, I hope to hear more about yours!


  1. Phyl - I LOVE that clever idea of Partici-Paint for auction items! What a great use of art teachers:)) The painted products look wonderful!!

    1. It was a lot of fun. After an exhausting and sometimes stressful couple of days, some of us had no legs and feet left to dance on, and were very happy to be sitting, schmoozing, and painting or doodling or whatever. I was tickled to see everything get sold, too!

  2. Phyl - At the Illinois convention, the luncheons are included in the registration and well attended, but the evening receptions are usually just appetizers and we have the same issue with low attendance. I've taught workshops the last 4 years and I have always been surprised at the number of people who sign up for a workshop (fee or no fee) and then don't attend. I know I am exhausted by the end of the conference, but I try to attend as many events as possible. Congrats on your award!