Saturday, August 29, 2015

Summer Arts Festivals

Out here in flyover land, a sure sign of summer is street festivals. As soon as the weather warms  people are outdoors and going to farmers' markets, street concerts and parties, and of course arts festivals. A lot of summer arts and crafts fests feature not only artists' booths but other attractions, often including bands, food, beer and wine, street performers, children's activities, and so on. Inevitably some festivals that began as art shows have become more party than art exhibition.

In Iowa, the Des Moines Art Festival is a giant downtown street fest with a healthy dose of art on the side. A second show during the same weekend, billed "The Other Art Show," carries on as an indoor, art-oriented exhibition that attracts people with an interest in art but without loud bands, beer, or half-interested passersby.As an exhibitor, I prize an indoor venue in summer, for a lot of reasons. The Des Moines Art Festival happens in June, when the weather can be a problem--heat, thunderstorms, rain, you name it. Bad weather can ruin an outdoor show for everyone. And of course there are the potential security issues and all the other distractions I mentioned as well. Nevertheless, outdoor art shows are one of the best ways to meet the public to show and discuss one's work.

Here are a few images of shows we did in Omaha, Minneapolis, and Des Moines. The first two are from the Uptown show in Minneapolis. We were fortunate to be just across from a food truck that served some truly awesome food--especially freshly-made donuts. I spent some time doing a watercolor of the truck. The sketchbook is 3x10 when folded open.


Another over the shouldeer shot of me, sketching food trucks. Sometimes, if time drags during a show, food seems to be on my mind. Below that, the resultant water and ink sketch and then a quick look at the crowd.

The Uptown show got a bit damp on Sunday afternoon, with a light, steady rain for about three hours, or just long enough to discourage people from coming outdoors. One of the down sides of outdoor shows, and never predictable. Still those who came were serious about looking at the art. And in spite of the rain, it was an enjoyable afternoon.

Below is a small watercolor I did in June of the crowd at the Other Art Show. I was most interested in rendering a bit of the ductwork overhead and capturing the indoor feel. 
A slice of the crowd at The Other Art Show (watercolor, 3x5)

And finally, here a three from the Omaha Summer Arts Festival. We were in the same exact spot as last year, just across from Leahy Mall, which is actually a park with a beautiful lagoon, trees, etc. just next to downtown Omaha. These show some of the park as well as the exhibition. The Omaha show is great fun, the exhibitors and the visitors are "Midwest nice."Sales are usually pretty good too.

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