Art City Austin 2014 Gets Creative
After 64 years, Austin’s Oldest Art Festival Remains on the Cutting Edge
In a city where festivals seem to pop up almost every weekend, Art City Austin remains one of the most diverse and unique. This year’s festival was no exception, as thousands of Austinites filled the streets of Cesar Chavez from Guadalupe and Lamar on April 12th and 13th to experience fine art from more than 100 vendors around the country, as well as live music from some of this city’s hottest local bands, and performance artists renowned for their unique and sometimes awe-inspiring performances.
Created by the Austin Art Alliance, Art City is true to its name, combining the best of fine art, performance art, contemporary art, and interactive art. Part block party, part festival, this year’s event featured established Austin artists like Joan Klasson, who has become famous for her “Water Prism” works to the edgier artists like Meredith and Michael of “Diamonds are Evil.” The Austin-based duo makes intricate jewelry and other rustic works of art using natural and reclaimed wood. Their works clearly reflect their mission, “Unlike diamonds, we use natural materials that don’t scream for looks, but create them.”
In addition to featuring Austin’s more well-known artists, Art City has made a commitment to showcasing this city’s up-and-coming artists. Students from Austin High Visual Art displayed their talents with a vibrant mural as well as an enormous canvas, as well as accomplished examples of photography, and printmaking. The Kid’s Interactive area also encouraged young artists to express themselves with face painting, creating Tissue Paper Stained Glass Windows, Body Airbrushing, and painting African Sunsets.
True to our city’s mission to keeping it weird, the weekend’s performance artists were the real standouts. Pogo Fred gave a fantastic, if not somewhat terrifying performance as he performed amazing feats on his super powered pogo stick, including flips, one armed jumps, and 8-foot high jumps. It’s hard to watch, but even harder to look away when this guy takes the stage. Derek McAlister and The Twin Tango Show are another hilarious, delightfully goofy act that combines comedy, acrobatics, and what they call “dancing.” Their off-beat performance drew major crowds both days.
Despite the threat of rain on Sunday, Austin Art City showed its strongest art form in style. With performances by all local acts like Nakia, Emily Bell, Possessed by Paul James, and Danny Malone, the live music presence was stronger than ever, especially the performance by The Rocketboys, who are incredible. Hailing from Austin, this foursome has a deep Texas sound with national appeal. Elizabeth McQueen, who is always superb with her sultry, effortless voice, just gets better and her set was the perfect cap to the festival.
Art City Austin is much like the city itself—offbeat, sophisticated, edgy, and laid back. With this year’s festival, the Austin Art Alliance showed why this festival is more relevant than ever.