Posts Tagged ‘art festival’

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.

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The North Texas festival season kicks off in March and carry’s through the summer. Every community has something planned, there are hundreds of communities that make up the Dallas metro-plex and then there are small towns spread across the prairie for hundreds of miles in every direction. The larger cachement areas pool their resources and pull off something spectacular. It’s an opportunity for local artists to display their hand made wares…fine oil paintings to barb wire sculpture, and a chance to see all the small town clubs and societies  dance and sing what they have rehearsed for the big show of the year. Expect professional bands to be seen alongside children’s troupes and specialties, from urban dance to farm skills.

We ardent day trippers have our weekends planned well in advance this time of year. Our festival bible is the Dallas Observer that lists every activity scheduled from music and entertainment venues to community festivals and various goings on. The Observer is everyone’s favorite paper for the entertainment and arts scene year round.

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So, off we go to Denton Texas yesterday for the Denton Arts and Jazz festival, an annual gig for local musicians and entertainers. First I should say that Denton is one of the sweet little towns surrounding Dallas that most tourists will never see, and much to their loss I assure you. The streets of Denton are lined with history and cool little shops. Denton is a distinctly casual place where people say ‘good morning’ to strangers, where you know your kids would be safe and all the cars stop for pedestrians.

I find these towns to have such a likeable vibe, people are sociable, super friendly and unhurried. Possibly, it’s the sense of continuity, people have been living and working here for hundreds of years and some businesses have been established for generations.IMG_3106

The extensive freeway system connects everything. Texans are accustomed to traveling seemingly great distances, something must have changed their DNA. We find it a no brainer to drive one to two hours from town to town, but when these places were established in the early 1800’s they would have seemed worlds apart.

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Many towns like Denton have a unique flavor to them and must be appreciated by walking slowly.

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