Ok. So last weekend was the excellent Raleigh Visual Art Exchange’s annual SPARKcon festival. As always, it was jam-packed with fun and exciting things to do all weekend. There were circus performers, street artists of all types (plein aire, street painting, photographers, graffiti, … just everything), dancers, fashion designers, actors, poets, writers, gamers, bartenders, comedians, singers, bands, skaters etc. There really is something for everyone. Follow this link for more information: www.SPARKcon.com. SPARKcon arrives every year the 3rd weekend in September and is “sparked” by the participants and organized by the always awesome Visual Art Exchange (www.visualartexchange.org), so you can also get involved for next year’s event if you are inclined to do so and I hope you will :-). Anyway…
I was a street painter in the ARTspark part of the event. I love to chalk, it is super fun and just exciting to be among the crowd. I usually participate with my super talented fellow artist and good friend Tarrah Huff. We have chalked together for the last four years. Of those four, we won the grand prize twice, were featured artists and received Best in Show: Design this year. Yay us! This is a chronicle of the events of that weekend :-)
Day 1 As always, Tarrah and I have a color draft of the work we intend to create for the event. Tarrah, being the master color-smith, has set the map from the line drawing I have created. We grid the square, and then chalk line the drawing. This year was particularly difficult in that it involved many constructed diagonal lines…and wet rain. It would have been great if it stayed light and sporadic. It was not great. The first night we laid it all out and put down a mud chalk base. We covered it with plastic, usually a good idea. We stayed until about 10:30pm, then headed home.
Day 2 is the gripey day. This time, the water seeped under the cover and stuck to the plastic. It started wet and stayed wet off and on until 5pm when the relentless light mist just would not give up and began to turn into real rain. Tarrah and I plugged along all morning hoping to have everything at a solid state allowing me to come back on Sunday to touch up and highlight. Tarrah left leave mid-afternoon because of an engagement. I stayed and continued to work until after 5pm and was hoping that I would catch a break and put the tarp on when it dried out again. No such luck. The drawing was wet. I decided to go eat and see if the weather would co-operate and dry out a little. At 7pm-ish, it was even more dismal. I decided that I was going to have to let the work stay out overnight because it would just come off on the tarp, plus, it was really quite built up from wet layering. As I was talking to a fellow participant, I looked up and some passerby was sticking his foot in my work. Here is where my impulsivity and stupid bravado kicked in without my thought to back it up. I yelled..I dont even remember thinking before my mouth engaged… “Hey Dude, what do you think you are doing,” I know the words “Hey” and “Dude” were involved, but I’m not exactly sure. It may have been the high school art teacher in me seeing a student being foolish in the classroom. I may have been just the incredulity of the situation, I don’t know, I just know I was pissed. I was told that he said “I’m sorry”, but all I heard and saw was laughing and silliness from his surrounding friends. I responded with two more phrases full of disdain I am sure, one being,”That took hours to create,” and the other “That’s my artwork you are stepping on.” This is also where we noticed a photographer and her subjects dancing on someone’s square across the street. We tried to politely (now) tell them they were stepping on someone’s work, to which she informed us that she was a “professional” as if that gave her the rights to destroying a fellow artists work. The audacity of people is just mind-blowing! I think I’ll go cut up someone’s canvas because I’m I painter and a “professional.” How ridiculous. When I left, it was wet, rainy, and grumpy. I feared the return of stagger foot. You can ask my husband about the anxiety part :-).
Day 3. “He” returned. It was inevitable. People have little respect for others. I don’t know who or what “returned”, but IT drug its feet across Tarrah and my work and left foot prints to Dan Nelson’s art cart, stole a can of paint, dumped it at the foot of our square and dropped the container on the tarp covering our friends work next to us. I was not phased as I returned at 8:00am Sunday Morning. It was a Holy day, and I had to let it go. Funny, all the anxiety was waisted the night before. I quickly assessed what I needed to do and just went to town. I started by reconstructing the cross beams and fixing the slurred sky. If you notice, I have great respect for Escher in this piece ;-). I also tried to drain the “moon” from its pool of water. That was the funny thing of our square. There was a circle indentation. We decided to use it to our advantage. After I started, everything fell into place and I stopped at 1:00pm. Eventually, we learned we took Best of Show: Design, good end to a funny weekend. I would have liked another couple of hours, but I think we did well considering the weather and the unruly night vandal. I really did enjoy the experience. I learned great heaping helpings about me, others, chalking and my fellow artists, who are completely wonderful and helpful people. I wish there were more opportunities to get shoulder to shoulder with other artists creating art. It is just such a learning experience watching and talk ing to other artists when you have an artifact and production in common…And there is always the story of the event itself. I will always remember foot printer and the midnight vandal. I do not hate them, I look at them as story fodder. They will always be greater in a memory ;-).