“Music. Art. Activism.” The three pillars of Forecastle are right there on every poster.
I’m not naive enough to think the three would be anywhere close to equal, but when art is one of the attractions of a festival I expected to see more than what I could get in a housewife’s Etsy shop.
For a city with two monthly gallery hops why was the vast majority of the art at this grassroots festival confined to jewelry and t-shirt booths? I’ve woven baskets, created soap from scratch, and made a few necklaces in my time. That may make me crafty and good with my hands, but it only makes me an artist if my creativity rides the short bus.
There were two art installments over on the main drag - a nice woven sculpture recycled out of plastic bottles and the mandala outside the Consciousness Carnival.
If you wanted to find vendors selling art, you’d need to head over to the East Stage where you could stop in at the Henna Tattoo booth. After that, you needed to keep going until you reached the Ocean Stage. There, far from where they might be seen by anyone who bought festival tickets for The Smashing Pumpkins or Widespread Panic, was a string of four art booths run by some very friendly guys.
They were selling original paintings, blowing glass into shapes other than a bong, and decorating the Ocean Stage area in a nautical theme full of mermaids, crashed airplane seats, and netting. Here, in the Red Bull infused ghetto of the festival, it felt like they’d really incorporated art alongside the music. Too bad you practically had to walk out of the park to find it.
The festival organizers clearly liked dividing things into street-like strips. Here’s the food court, here’s the activism ghetto, here’s the strip of organic cotton clothing. Next year, I’d like to see them set up an isle for a mini-gallery hop anchored by some booths run by independent artists. If that’s too much to ask, why not invite some local artists to decorate the main and secondary stage areas in order to incorporate more art into the everyday life of the festival. It worked great on the small Ocean stage, so why not dream big over by the main drag?
Photos credit Chris-Rachael Oseland.