Mike Davies

My first (but definitely not last) Arts Fest

I thought I was just about ready to start showing my new work to the world, but I wasn’t sure

I hummed and hawed about whether or not to get a booth at Rivercity Arts Fest this year when the announcement came out that they were starting to book them.

I’d been getting back into painting now that I finally had the room to do so – I actually went to university originally, way back in the last century, to become a visual artist – and I thought I was just about ready to start showing my new work to the world, but I wasn’t sure.

Eventually, I convinced myself that it would be worth the money and time. So I wandered into Impressions Custom Framing and Gallery one day to get myself a spot in the festival, and it just so happened that Jan Wade from the Downtown Business Improvement Association was in there talking to Kris Sand about not being able to find anyone willing to paint their new community piano.

“Um….I’ll paint a piano,” said I.

“You paint?” asked Wade.

“I do,” said I, pulling out my phone to show her my Facebook page.

“That will look fantastic,” she said, at which point I went from “not sure if I should show my work yet” to suddenly being booked to not only show my work, but also make some – in public – on the busiest arts day of the year on someone else’s piano that will also be publicly accessible. Impressions generously offered to donate whatever paint I would need if I gave them a list, which I happily did, and I primed up the piano in an empty retail space in the Tyee Plaza in advance so I could paint the piano in one day – which I somehow actually managed to do.

So now that you have the background, here’s what I learned at my first Rivercity Arts Fest.

1. It doesn’t matter what the forecast says or what the day looks like when you get down there in the morning, you put up your tent. It was cloudy – but not the rainy kind – when I got there, so I didn’t set mine up, thinking I wouldn’t need either shade from the sun or shelter from the rain. I proceeded to get a pretty serious sunburn, and if it weren’t for the ample supply of Gatorade provided to me by the BIA, I likely would have collapsed from heatstroke.

2. Volunteers are awesome. There was no shortage of people donating their time, asking if they could be of help, directing traffic during set-up and tear-down, providing entertainment and bringing smiles to the party.

3. Artists are awesome, too. Everyone was very supportive of everyone else, it seemed. There was no competition for the dollars being spent on art, or jealousy when someone made a purchase at someone else’s booth, because artists, in general, just aren’t like that.

Anyway, I’d just like to again thank everyone that made the the weekend the wonderful event that it was. Watch for the new piano to be out and about in the community soon. I’m a bit biased, but I think it looks pretty cool.

And you can bet I’ll be back down there next year, too – under a tent of some kind.