Aug. 1—It’s been about 10 years since artists from across the country have rounded up their handmade wares to display at the Boulder Fine Art Street Festival. After its lengthy absence, the two-day festival was revived this year.
The Boulder Fine Art Festival kicked off Saturday and will continue from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday at 1710 29th St. The festival is free and open to the public to attend, featuring a wide selection of juried art, meaning artist’s work has to be approved by a festival jury to be accepted. The show is put on by Howard Alan Events and American Craft Endeavors, which hosts about 90 shows a year.
Elaine Laurent, one of the festival’s show directors, said show organizers saw an opportunity this year to help artists and businesses at the 29th Street Mall and were eager to bring the event back to life. Saturday’s event drew roughly 1,000 people to browse the art collection.
“We’re excited,” Laurent said. “It’s been a great turnout. It’s fun; you never know what you’re going to see. Everything here is handmade by the artists, and you can talk to the artists about their techniques, what inspired them — they’re here to do that.”
Each of the artists who displayed their work at the festival had a story to tell.
Christina and Ian Lacey, music lovers and wife and husband, repurpose used guitar strings into bracelets, rings, necklaces and key chains. Used guitar strings, lackluster in their musical tone, are typically pitched into the garbage, but the couple wanted to help the passion poured into each strum live on through their art. Boulder County music shops and a number of their musician friends donate strings for the cause.
Sitting in front of the TV or listening to music, Christina and Ian Lacey handcraft the jewelry for their business. Due to the coronavirus pandemic, the couple didn’t have much of a chance last year to show at art festivals.
“We were at home a better part of last year,” Christina Lacy said. “Only about 13% of our business is online — that gets (boosted) a lot from being at shows and giving out business cards. We had to really bump up our social media marketing in order to be known.”
Saturday was a chance to reconnect with customers again. The tent where the jewelry was displayed hummed with activity, as people browsed the collection.
“Actually interacting with people has been really great,” she said.
Wheeling her bike past the booths Saturday was Kim Ketellapper. The Boulder resident had stumbled on the festival while she was out running errands and was ready to pedal away with several finds. Tucked into her flower-bedecked bicycle basket were several pieces of wall art.
“I’ve been up and down the aisle twice,” Ketellapper said. “I love this. This is the first one they’ve done for a while.”
Melissa Gates, of Chattanooga, Tennessee, an accountant by trade, as well as animal activist and artist, prefaced her work with an introduction.
“Welcome to my wildlife sanctuary. I promise they don’t bite,” she said of her vivid paintings of animals.
The amber-yellow eyes of a cheetah, the stoic gaze of a horse with a windblown mane, and a curious black bear paused at a tree with her cubs were just some of the animals Gates’ art captured. She said for each painting she sells, she will donate a portion to an organization dedicated to helping that animal.
“A lot of these animals are threatened or endangered species,” Gates said. “I’m always trying to bring awareness to people of not only how cool-looking and beautiful animals are, but I have all of them looking at you, because I want the viewer to be engaged and realize that they have a spirit; they’re intelligent, they’re essential.”
Gates said she enjoyed getting the chance to show her art in Boulder. The overcast weather, which eventually led to a downpour just before 4 p.m., offered some cooler temperatures at least.
“People seem to be pretty happy to be here, so you can’t go wrong,” Gates said.
Not far from where Gates sold her paintings, David and Julie Pure, of Boulder, paused to reflect on the show. The husband and wife have been attending art shows together for the past six years and said they were excited with what they had encountered so far.
“We just love art,” Julie Pure said. “We’re so impressed with this show. It’s extremely well-juried.”
David Pure added: “It’s a really high level of art,” he said.
After making a full sweep of the show, both said they had their eye on several pieces they intended to buy, including some photography by artist Marcus Ryan. Julie Pure, an interior designer, said she also took down some names of artists to recommend to clients.
Art in many forms could be found throughout the festival. Andrew Muckler, of Florida, a vendor and show coordinator, sold his carved paintings Saturday. The carved wood, he said, adds a depth to his work as he applies paint to his carvings.
As an artist, Muckler said he knows the past year with the pandemic has been tough for his artistic colleagues.
“I think that the artists and the people that want art were missing,” Muckler said.
Laurent hopes to keep art lovers and artists connected. She said organizers hope to bring the show back next year.
“It seems to be doing very well — the artists are happy,” Laurent said. “We’ll do it again. We’re going to try to make it an annual thing.”