I love a bit of anthropology on the weekend . I discovered a new tribe today while trundling through yet another ethereal art festival, which are as common as the cottonwood fluff that floats on the summer breeze at this time of year in the entirely entertaining and mysterious city of Dallas Texas. And what a beautiful day it was to discover something new, the weather has been dialed up to perfect, as if winters cold curtain has been ripped open by an excited stagehand who couldn’t wait for spring to entertain the actors que…..suddenly summer is OK with me. The Art and Music festival in the scenic small town of Richardson was held along side a wide creek lined with green banks and shady elm , solid oak with blooming cottonwood extant…..sublime when you consider you’re in the center of Dallas surrounded by freeways that connect and disconnect the city like a giants mechano set with soaring concrete interchanges stacked five high twisted like spaghetti.
We have been going to art and music festivals every weekend since the season began in March….. culture starved Canadians that we are. In that time I started to notice many familiar faces in the booths and kiosks, food carts and T-shirt and trinket counters. Naturally, being the inquisitive type I had to inquire. I found out from several of the talkative participants that the art scene in the US is like a traveling carnival, where the entertainers and artists, food vendors and roadies sign up for what amounts to a roadshow tour and they travel to various city and town fairs around the country…. I remember doing this a long time ago when I lived with a traveling carnival in my wayward teenage years and went from town to town like a breath of homeless air. We appeared and disappeared in smoky trucks and pulled up our torn faded tents at odd hours, set up shaky rides and rigged gaming stands on grassy fairways, vacant lots and disused corners of mall parking lots to the delight of children and the horror of their parents.
What I found out today is that artists from all over the three countries, Canada, USA and Mexico are like the itinerant gypsies I knew as a child and enjoy a similar secret and insular lifestyle society. They know one another intimately, they take care of one another if one gets sick or is otherwise in need….becoming like an extended family to one another…. a tribe by any other name. The stories I heard today were about people who are travelers and gypsies living in mobile homes and RV’s a majority of the year. These carvers, glass blowers, painters, sculptors, musicians, weavers, entertainers and photographers are a world apart from everyday life and exist unrecognized for who they are. They live in our hearts and minds by what they produce and yet we know so little about them. Who knew the life of an artist could be so tenuous and exciting? You do now.