March 25-27 at Memorial Park

All aboard the art bus: Bayou City Art Festival puts on a solid gold preview with gallery crawl

All aboard the art bus: Bayou City Art Festival puts on a solid gold preview with gallery crawl

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Kevin Petersen poses with one of his paintings and the subject's look-a-like at Winter Street Studios. Photo by Ben de Soto
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An attendee peruses the art at Colton & Farb Gallery. Photo by Ben de Soto
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The group poses for a group photo at FotoFest. Photo by Ben de Soto
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The organizers of the Bayou City Art Festival at Memorial Park pumped up ex and current board members, fans and potential attendees Sunday with a catered art crawl to four of Houston's galleries.

Participants were met at Capital One Bank with wine, champagne and brunch items catered by Mélange, which also set up food stations at each of the gallery stops. We boarded a charter bus to spend the day as tourists in our own city, off to the first stop at Colton & Farb Gallery. En route, long-time organizers remembered the early days of BCAF, back when it was Westheimer Street Fair, took place in a parking lot off Westheimer and Montrose and a drag show on the roof of Mary's was one of the event's highlights.

Now in its 40th year the juried fair invites just over 350 artists from more than 1,600 applicants.

After examining my favorite pieces at Colton & Farb, a collection of shadowboxes constructed from old TV screens, it was off to the Houston Center for Contemporary Craft, where a novel exhibit by Lisa Gralnick captured everyone's attention. Called "The Gold Standard," the artist crafted an exhibition in three parts that questions the assumed value of gold — my favorite item was a plaster cast of a face with the nose plated in as much gold as would have paid for the model's contemporary rhinoplasty.

After yet more wine, we boarded the bus to Winter Street Studios, where we mingled in the Spacetaker Gallery before meeting painter Kevin Petersen and mixed-media artist Nicola Parente in their respective studios. Petersen is drawn to the contrast of children against gritty, urban backgrounds, while Parente is fascinated by the stop-and-go images created by the movement of a train. (Both artists will offer works at the BCAF March 25 through 27.)

Finally, but too soon, the tour ended at Vine Street Studios, where guests enjoyed a gallery talk by director Wendy Watriss, along with cheesecake lollipops, brownies and still more wine by Melange.

The Bayou City Arts Festival will run March 25 through March 27 at Memorial Park. Tickets are $12, free for children under 12 and $10 on First-Look Friday.