Since the dawn of mankind the question has lingered with no textbook definitions, no answers indisputable, and rightfully so: “What is art exactly, and where should it be?”
Upon seeing that of which one instinctively disdains, more prevalent throughout, has been the common assertion: “No way this is art, this is not art, and it’s not staying here!”
From kitchen utensils– spoons and knives clinking softly together as a hosepipe fills a children’s pool so gently with water, just brushing the basin, to Cristo and his wife Jeanne-Claude who strung immense nylon curtains of brilliant orange through the sacred valleys and canyons of the west, snaking for miles, artists have sought to redefine art: What is it exactly, and where should it be?
As far as where it should be, and what it should be, The Artisan Festival has the answer: It should be outdoors, among skies and clouds, in a community setting where most will mingle, while engaging in discussions far more rare and far more frequent than those taking place in today’s more modern, and often more impersonable, city museums.
Now 40-years strong, thanks in large part to its founding member, Nancy Saturn, who has recently passed, the American Artisan Festival only seems to expand, and it’s all but impossibe to argue against its increasing allure, as far as where it belongs on the contemporary art scene.
Will Connor, photographer, whose works tend to speak the subtlety of nature though clarity’s lens while mirroring personas of the human experience, can attest to feel and the closeness of the festival.
“These people are family in a way,” Connor says. “The great thing about this festival is the experiece between the artist and the buyer. In a gallery setting, you may meet the artist on opening night at the reception, but here the artist is available at all times.”
As far as the artistic diversity of the festival goes, one can only summarize: Rich Cole and his buddy Mike started out in a garage transforming car parts into entrancing creatures– into snakes, chameleons, crayfish and more, and collage artist Michelle Stewart specializes in the mystique of words: Words as they pertain to soothing colors and the warmth of memory and the knowledge of quotes: Quotes one may take with them in the form of pendants or tiles in which they may hang about their homes; harbingers of good fortune to come, perhaps?
Webster’s New World Dictionary (Pocket-Size Edition) offers quite a few indistinct explanations as they pertain to art: “human creativity, a branch of learning, any craft or its principles,” etcetera.
But once while performing a little soul-numbing labor, when the topic had arisen, a Package Handler, whose name has escaped, opined the following: “Art is anything done exceptionally well.”
At The Artisan Festival, there is plenty of “exceptionally well” to go around, under a canopy of sapphire and venerated shade trees; what upscale modern museum could claim anything more without stabs of severe, unyielding conscience?
*** This article is dedicated to the memory of Nancy Saturn, who founded The American Artisan Festival, and to Jeanne-Claude, artist and wife of fellow artist Cristo, both of whom have revolutionized art with their ability to harness their passions and seek additional avenues for art most would have not foreseen. You will both be missed.
The 40th annual American Artisan Festival takes place at Centennial Park in Nashville, Tennessee.
Hours: 10am – 7pm Saturday, 10am – 5pm Sunday, admission is free.
contact www.americanartisan.com for more information.