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By Anita Felicelli

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About this blog: I grew up in Palo Alto and now live in Mountain View with my husband, daughter and two corgis. After about a decade grappling with the law, first as a law student at UC Berkeley and then as a litigator around the Bay Area, I left ...  (More)

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Battle of the Bay Area Art Fairs

Uploaded: Sep 4, 2013
The end of summer in the Bay Area brings a smattering of arts festivals, three of them of which I am aware—Palo Alto, King's Mountain (Woodside) and Mountain View, in that order. Next weekend is Mountain View's Art and Wine Festival.

I'd never been to the King's Mountain Art Fair, but it was a Labor Day treat. The first thing that happened, however, was getting lost. Somehow that added to the allure of this festival. We wound around the mountain, from 280 to Sand Hill up to the wrong section of Skyline, finding ourselves in the middle of dripping redwoods. When we finally found the shuttle stop, we were picked up within 5 minutes. The shuttle was painted like a cable car, driven by a friendly driver and the baby enjoyed the blur of green and gold light as we made our way to the fair.

When we arrived, we hurried to the far end of the grounds to get pancakes, eggs, orange juice and instant hot chocolate. Janis Joplin was blasting in the background.

Families, older couples, and mountain artists congregated around the picnic benches, eating and talking. When we were done eaten, children who were hovering and watching uncertainly like elves, whisked away our paper plates.

The art was mostly crafts. Artisans spread their booths over the mountain—leather handbags, handmade cloche hats, window prisms, iron bells, wooden flutes. By way of fine arts, there was a New Mexico fiber artist. A sculptor with long Giacometti-like sculptures. In a lower glade, a musician was playing a Nyckelharpa (pictured above). If you're wondering what a Nyckelharpa is, it is a stringed Swedish instrument that dates back to the 1300s and it's gorgeous.

There was a Kiddie Hollow, nestled down a slope. At its entrance, a woman constructed remarkable balloon sculptures including a birthday cake hat and an Elmo. Down the slope were several crafts booths and a huge tee-pee filled with children's books and pillows.

The festival was special, primarily because of the ambiance—the feeling that you'd stepped back into a Bay Area mountain art scene as it might have been in the '70s. In my opinion, it was not as arts oriented, however, as Palo Alto's Art and Wine Festival the weekend before. The number and variety of artists makes Palo Alto's an exceptionally good art fair, at least for me.

At the Palo Alto fair, the kids' arts and crafts area was much more accessible to toddlers and older kids alike. A street full of vibrant chalk paintings made me feel like one of the kids in Mary Poppins. The area included the opportunity for kids or adults to purchase their own square in a concrete quilt to fill in with chalk drawings.

What's missing and necessary from all the art fairs are conceptual artists, risk-takers.

Mountain View's Art and Wine festival is coming up September 7-8th (this weekend). What do you like best about the local art festivals? What could be better?

Comments

Posted by Jorge, a resident of Castro City,
on Sep 4, 2013 at 2:53 pm

Is it possible to have an art festival without alcohol? I know sales of bad art would go down, but the sheer number of drunk yuppies at these things is disconcerting.


Posted by Anita Felicelli, a resident of Rex Manor,
on Sep 4, 2013 at 3:23 pm

Anita Felicelli is a registered user.

Ha- actually the King's Mountain Art Fair sells wine, but it's not featured and I didn't witness much drunkenness, at least not in the morning. The Palo Alto one has more drinking for sure, and I can see how that would be annoying. I would think the mass imbibing of alcohol would make the place more conducive to artists doing really interesting, novel things, but you're right, that isn't really what usually happens at these events.


Posted by member, a resident of another community,
on Sep 6, 2013 at 3:14 pm

I am sure the variety of food that can be had at these fairs is a big draw for many people including me. Hopefully parking won't be a problem!


Posted by Anita Felicelli, a resident of Rex Manor,
on Sep 7, 2013 at 7:19 am

Anita Felicelli is a registered user.

Hi- Thanks for reading. Yes, the food at Mountain View's Art and Wine has been good in the past, so it will probably good today/tomorrow. I've easily found parking in the past by parking just across Central on a side street off Moffett.


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