Arts Festival

Spent the entire weekend at the Arts Festival. Literally. I set up the booth Friday morning, and we were there at the Festival 4-11 Friday, 9:30-11 Saturday, and 9:30 – noon today. (We left early to go to my neice’s birthday party.)

(Swing Des Moines had a booth in the Nonprofit Village, it’s always a great event and generally a good time, though perhaps it’s more fun in retrospect than in actual real-time experience.)

Here are some random thoughts from the weekend:

– It’s a lot of fun to see kids running around in their Flapper Hats that they made at our booth.

– I am so very grateful that Wally tells the people running each booth Thank You after he’s done with his activity, without any prompting from me. The vast majority of the kids who visited us did not.

– The line between art and craft is pretty blurry at times. There were at least two artists selling purses, at I think I saw three selling wearables. I’m not sure I can see a purse or a shawl (or even a chain-mail shirt) as art. I don’t know. I’m not by any stretch saying that I’m the one who gets to decide these things, either – obviously I’m not!

– The line between art and, um, just “stuff” is also pretty blurry sometimes. The Pappajohn Sculpture Garden, for example. White metal grid? Large welded metal rectangles? On the upside, I may have found a good secondary income for a friend with a welder.

– The Des Moines Arts Festival features awesome art. Really. I won’t pretend that I actually spent much time contemplating the art. My exposure to the artist tents was largely restricted to staring as I walked past at a rather good clip on my way to the bathrooms, or while walking Genna around in the wrap or the stroller, either for a nap or just to cure the grumpies. But since I walked by most of the booths about 20 times during the weekend, the cumulative effect was somewhat contemplative, I guess. But, really – some of the art wasn’t my taste, but it was all really impressive in its quality.

– I loved walking BEHIND the artist tents (which was a necessity to get to the Volunteer bathrooms). I love seeing how they each create their own little private home back there.

– Some of the artists were really rude. Some of the artists were badmouthing Iowa and Iowans. Some of the artists were being somewhat harsh in their criticism of the weather. Advice to them: First, it’s best not to be overly critical of those who are paying you outrageous sums of money for your art.  Second, this is Iowa in the summer. If you don’t like severe storms and really hot, humid weather, then stay home.

– As a crafter, I read a lot of blog posts and whatnot about craft shows and fairs. Many of them recommend demonstrating your craft if possible. I have to say, as an attendee, I found the artists who were engaged in their craft to be far more interesting than those who were reading books. It also provides a great conversation starter with passers-by.


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