Sunday, October 4, 2009

Art Hopping, and Fall Festival Time

Friday night offered up Art Hop, a semiannual event, which is an exaggerated version of the monthly First Friday Art Walks. For Art Hop, both visual and musical artists are paired with local businesses, guaranteeing a continual stream of lookers and listeners. Initially, I was a bit disheartened at the turnout, for it was a cold evening, spitting rain. However, I tend to head out early, before the crush of folks, and indeed, they did materialize.
I am always impressed by the First Friday ArtWalks, and the Art Hop, for the well-heeled and beautiful people of Bend congregate in all the venues of downtown. Where are all these beautiful and seemingly well-off people the rest of the days?  I delight in people watching as much art viewing, and music listening. A particularly busy place was at the High Desert Gallery, in its new location at the Oxford Hotel, showing off the 2009 Plein Air Painters of Oregon Annual Show and Sale, in a rather bland space. The art and people and music made for a sensory delight. Music was provided by the Anvil Blasters, a crowd pleaser wherever they perform. I know several members from my days of contra-dancing.
From there, I wandered into almost every business that was open....I was drawn in to hear the music as much as seeing the art. And, it was fun to see inside some of these shops, ones I usually do not frequent. It seems that many storefronts that were vacant a few months ago are now open and in business.
I wandered into the Patagonia Store. On display were the fabulous photographs of Mike Putnam, which show off this beautiful area of Central Oregon, with its mountains, rivers, forests, of which I call home. I was happy to see Rod, the owner, at work, and chatted with him briefly. (He also owns Fleet Feet Sports of Bend. He is an accomplish ultra-runner, and an all around super nice guy.... He coached the Trail Running class that I took this summer .... of which I mention in my other blog!). After oohing and aahing over the photos, the clothes, the footware, the books in Patagonia I headed out into the weather. More music, more art, more cookies! No wine, however, for I had a full week of subbing, sensing that any wine would keel over my exhausted self. Later in the evening I was drawn in to the sounds of a song I had heard a week before during the last scene/closing credits of Mad Men (one of the few TV shows I watch and tape to watch)....."I owe my soul to the company store....". The whapping sounds on a stand-up bass with a guitar player singing that song drew me in to a realtor's office. Many other appreciative audience members lounged around the handsome space. I grabbed a few Hershey kisses wrapped in fall colors, to be disappointed tasting the butterscotch versus chocolate flavor I would have preferred.
My last noteworthy stop was at another high-end shoe and clothing store, to my delight, had an author on hand for book signings. I missed her talk the previous evening due to other commitments, so I was pleased to chat with Naseem Rakha, and talk about her book. If you are a fan of OPB as I am, you may remember her name from her days of reporting at OPB.... I told her that we have lived in similar places, and even attended the same college. As a writer/journalist, she has an eloquence with her language that I admire. I ran back to my car to fetch my wallet, so she could sign the book I committed to buy. This seemed fitting, as I ended my Art Hop with the literary arts!

The next morning, Bob and I wandered downtown to view the Fall Festival. Bend loves its downtown festivals, and it seems every festival brings the same art vendors, so nothing pulled at us. Plus, the number of vendors seemed down. As with the night before, it was the music that interested me. Later in the day, I went back to hear Shawn Mullins, a guy you usually have to pay to see. He was awesome... and a great crowd despite the cold. (It was around 33 degrees!! But, we know how to keep warm living in Bend.) Between acts, I wandered over to the local's stage and was mesmerized by Mark Ransom and the Mostest with their driving percussion, danceable bass lines, jazzy keyboards, and guitar virtuoso playing. Other enthusiastic audience members pulled me onto the dance floor, so I was able to keep a bit warmer by dancing instead of just feet tapping. Eventually, I wandered back to the main stage to hear BeauSoleil avec Michael Doucet, "the World's Greatest Cajun Band". As they are from Louisianna, I wondered how they were enjoying the freezing temperatures.... I thought I heard a band member muse that there should be heaters up on stage. Bendites were oblivious to the cold as they happily danced to the contagious tunes. I jiggled on the sidelines until I noted the time, and it was close to bedtime! The party swung on.... and young folk were coming out, no doubt for their own night-club action!

Now, not as inspired as I had hoped after an artfilled weekend, but today's weather (6 inches of SNOW!!) provides perfect studio time!

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