Art in the Park
Some artists worth finding at the Bayou City Art Festival
Editors Note: It's the last day of the Bayou City Art Festival, so we're reposting this guide to some artists worth checking out:
What do a field of golden Humpty Dumpties, a mosaic belt buckle depicting Van Gogh’s Starry Night, and a child with a balloon riding a blue bull all have in common? If you’re stumped head to Memorial Park and search the booths of the Bayou City Art Festival.
This outdoor celebration of contemporary American art and craft runs Friday through Sunday, and if you’re willing to pony up $10 for admission, you’re guaranteed the artists will explain their work before you buy. Twice a year the Art Colony Association presents the Bayou City Art Festival with a spring festival in Memorial Park and an autumn festival downtown (October 9-10).
The festival combines the best of a juried art show with the approachability of a carnival, featuring food, fun, countless performances organized by the Houston Arts Alliance, and 300 artists, selected from 1200 applicants, eager to talk about their creative labors, the products of which are available and on sale. No doubt this atmosphere helped earn the festival a nod from AmericanStyle magazine as one of the top 10 art festivals in the country.
Ransacking 300 hundred booths may seem daunting, but make sure you tear yourself away from the theater, folk dance, flamenco, and other absorbing performances. Here are some artists worth finding:
Vic Lee has Houston in mind in his haunting but playful Waiting to Fly featuring a blue bull with rider poised before a Houston skyline. It was created specifically for the Bayou City Art Festival as the featured artwork, so it appears on most of the festival’s promotional materials.
This provides great exposure for an artist who was first a soccer player, an athletic club owner, a cartoonist, and a student of theology before religious quandaries encouraged him to pick up a brush and create distinctive renderings of a world wearing a halo of mystery. Lee’s painting began in response to religious questions, and his career should be encouraging to artists trying to get a start.
“I have no art training,” he says, but “I can’t help but believe that within us all is a messenger in search of a delivery system.”
Norberto Clementealso finds artistic inspiration in the revelations of religion. This Cuban-born, Houston-based artist manages to be surreal, expressive, disciplined, and colorful all at once. Portraits of saints co-exist with human-animal hybrids and inviting tropical landscapes. Also self-taught, Clemente felt his calling at a young age and though he describes art as “a wild beast,” his paintings are polished and often serene.
You may wish Paul Pearman would create custom mosaics throughout your entire home, but you can visit this Augusta, Ga., artist and walk away with a custom belt buckle lively enough for any Texan. Pearman works in a variety of media but primarily glass. He is, as mentioned, the master of the buckle, mounting “Art for the Hips” (Van Gogh’s Starry Night) on waistlines rather than museum walls. But he’s also an expert in stained glass, sculpture, and graphic design. For a black belt and the 1989 Guinness World Record for the longest skateboard jump (over 26 barrels), Pearman’s artistic philosophy is suitably bold: “Thinking outside the box is one thing – not having a box is another.”
He may have fallen but Humpty Dumpty rises again in the quirky sculpture of Minneapolis artist Kimber Fiebiger, last year’s Bayou City Art Festival featured artist. These golden beauties begin with a steel rebar skeleton before coatings of clay, plastic, and other materials prepare the way for the bronzing. If you can’t resist cracking into some of these works, a small sculpture the size of an actual chicken egg won’t set you back too badly.
The latest sports car of your dreams may be out of reach in this economy, but Jay Garrison’s “Found Object Assemblages” might prove equally delightful and far less expensive. These “conversation pieces” as he calls them — cars, motorcycles, planes, trains, and balloons — may not fly, but they do fascinate. It’s as if the leftover pieces of something you assembled yourself were collected and then crafted into fantasies of locomotion. “Recycling at its finest,” Garrison calls it, but there’s plenty of sweet novelty in these found objects.
The Bayou City Art Festival lets you play arts patron, but best of all KTRH 740 AM sponsored a “People’s Choice” slot in the festival. Ten artists vied for the crown. Check out the choices and the winner.