Artisphere took place this weekend in Greenville. I guess this is the successor to the old River Place Arts Festival, held about this time each year until year before last. The emphasis is on International Arts, and with any festival of this type, there is a combination of live performances and booths with art for sale. Fortunately, the bad storms of Friday only did minor damage, and the show recovered and was in full force for Saturday.
The performance of Mendelssohn’s Elijah with the Chorale and Orchestra was to be the highlight of the event. Rehearsals took up much of the weekend, so I didn’t get to spend as much time at the festival as I might have liked. Laura and I did get a chance to wander among the booths and listen to a few performances. The art was spectacular – much of it amazing. I find myself drawn to colorful, abstract paintings, but I often come away wondering, "Why can’t I do that?" Not that I want to sell paintings in a booth at a festival, but I’d love to create some things for our home. I may yet give it a shot.
There was a good mix of local artists and artists from around the nation. I was impressed at the distances some travelled. I know from experience that participation in these festivals can be very, very tedious, and I imagine that a life of travel like that would get old. Maybe traveling artists like this are the modern equivalent of carnies, with the festival circuit replacing the small-time fair.
We listened to a steel drum band, and enjoyed them until they started playing "It’s a Small World." Our favorite performance was by the artist Brian Olson, who paints portraits of musicians onstage while their music is being played on the sound system. This was a combination of painting and dance, as Brian lept to slap the canvas with his fingers to create a portrait of Bob Marley. You must really have confidence in your abilities to do this on a stage.
The Chorale had been invited to share a booth with Starbucks in the food section of the festival. I thought about helping out. I remember back to the Fourth Avenue Festival in Tucson (which dwarfs this one) when I manned a booth for the Arizona Repertory Singers. At that time, we were at an information booth, rather than trying to serve food, so we had time to gawk at the passers-by, and call out "hair alerts" or "fashion alerts" to each other. Somehow, I didn’t think peddling coffee would be as much fun.
The festival was well-attended, and laid out very nicely along the west end of town and along the new Liberty Bridge across the Falls. There was much to give one pride in Greenville with the beautiful setting and emphasis on the arts.