Kelley Ramirez, Nail Polish painting Photo: Kazad/Artcentron
BALTIMORE, MD.- Artscape, Baltimore’s landmark arts festival, ended last Sunday. Noted as the biggest free arts festival in the United States, the three-day event brought together painters, sculptors, designers, crafters and performers from around the United States.
Although the first two days were characterized by incessant rain, it did not dampen the spirit of the people who came out in droves. Some came on public transportation while others came in their personal cars to enjoy this year’s Artscape Festival. Some even rode on bikes. The third day was particularly eventful. There was food, music and lots of dancing. The good weather gave visitors the opportunity to see more art and also have fun.
Visitors walked miles, navigating through tents, stalls, people and art to experience the Artscape art festival. One of the captivating pieces at this year’s Artscape was, Face Forward, a 15- foot kinetic installation made from stain steels and metals. The piece was created by Christian Ristow, a New Mexico-based artist. Configured in a manner to mimic the human face, visitors were able to create different facial expressions by operating several joysticks linked to the face.
The interactive nature of this installation made it one of the major points of attraction at this year’s Artscape festival. Children were particularly captivated by Face Forward. They created different facial expressions that boarded on weird and funny. They laughed hysterically at their creations and forced their parents to participate.
Devin Mack, a wire sculptor, also made great impression on art lovers at the Artscape festival. His sculptures, made from intricately woven aluminum and copper wires, showed genuine creativity and the extent to which you can push a material often discarded as waste. Visitors at the Artscape festival watched in admiration as the artists twisted different sizes of wires to create very interesting sculptures.
Matthew Bartik showed everyone what amazing things you can create using forks. Bartik, who describes his creations as ‘Fork Art’, created amazing creatures and sculpture by bending, twisting, clipping and merging different sizes of forks with calculated precision. Bartik, a graduate from State University of New York at New Paltz, has won many awards for his creations. His presence at the Baltimore Artscape festival gave many fans something to talk about.
Bartik was not alone in his use of everyday materials to create high art. Kelley Ramirez created her works using nail polish. Her works were characterized by dabs of glossy nail polish of different colors arranged in a manner to achieve surprising visual effect. At first glance, many people at the artist’s Artscape festival stand thought the works were mosaic because the nail polish looked like tiles. They were, however, amazed when they realized they were created from nail polish.
Greg Pace Pottery presented some outstanding Crystallin Glazed Pottery. The pottery collection, achieved through a systemic and precise firing process, shimmer in the glowing sun. Artscape festival visitors congregated at Greg Pace Pottery tent, wondering how the ceramist achieved such stunning quality.
Besides the adults, children also had fun at the Baltimore Artscape festival. They participated in different events and also made crafts. They also got the opportunity to see some great crafts and crafters at work at the Artscape. One of the crafters was Joelle Medici of Mr. Sogs Handmade Creatures. Medici creations consist of very unique, beautiful and colorful creatures. The creatures have names like “Mario Macro Creature”, ‘Flaca Micro Creature’ and ‘Bo Mini Creature’. During a demonstration, children and adult alike, watched as some of these creatures came alive in the hands of this dexterous crafter.
It is estimated that the Baltimore Artscape Festival attracted almost 350,000 visitors. Evidently, Artscape Festival is not a fringe festival. Since it opened 34 years ago, it has grown to become America’s largest free arts festival. America’s largest free arts festival The Artscape festival is not just focused on art but also incorporates a music festival that brings together art lovers from across the country. Michael Franti & Spearhead are some of the entertainers at this year’s Artscape festival. With all the festivities, it is not surprising that many have described it as Baltimore’s Mardi Gras.
Security was very high at this year’s Artscape festival, perhaps because of the recent violence across the country. Many visitors, however, agreed that the recent increase in juvenile violence in the city prompted the high level security. Many people were happy to see the police and even took photos with them. The event ended without any major incident. As the day ended, many people dragged home saddle with fatigue.