Aside from the true art connoisseur, most people are unfamiliar with art and artists. They may even be a little intimidated by art.
So, guess what? It turns out that they are just as afraid of you as you are of them.
And whether you're the artist or the customer, it all boils down to the same thing, not knowing what to say. If you don't know what to say, and they don't know what to say, then you're just going to be left standing there staring at your art work.
We need to do more than this. We need to get people engaged with our work. How do we do this? TELL THE STORY!
I hope you've been working on your art work stories. You should have something written for most of your major pieces. People relate to stories. The story will give them a way to relate to the art. It gives them a deeper understanding of the art. And it gives them something to talk about so you're not just standing there staring at the work.
Oh, and I did convince my mailman to go. I'll give you an update after the event.