Summer Art Festivals beckon. Merlin looks forward to art walkies walkabout. After the spring Classic cars drive away, the streets in front of Mission San Rafael are resurfaced for the Italian Street Painting Festival. Sponsored by Youth in Arts, our local event attracts world class madonnari, chalk drawing artists. Masters willingly work alongside local artists and students for two days in the hot sun to create 200 vibrant street murals. Thousands of spectators mingle in the street, watching designs take form as the madonnari apply chalk and blend color with hands, cloth, sponges, and tools from their indoor studios.
We hunt for art pals Mark Wagner, Clayton Thiel, and Joel Yau. Mark, his dog Mr. Z, and 5,678 school kids hold the official Guinness World Record for the largest chalk drawing, 90,000 square feet of imaginative image on the old Alameda Naval Air Base. Mark's mission is to re-enchant the world through art, cultivating creative collaboration to open hearts, awaken senses, build community.
By the end of Sunday afternoon, hot, tired, chalk covered artists remove the boundary tape and step back to appreciate the free flowing gallery of expression and vibrancy. Merlin sneaks in after hours to look for depictions of dogs. He spotted a cow, by Art Works Downtown volunteer, Allison Snopek. and declared it his favorite. We tweeted.
Our favorite summer outdoor art event is the Marin Art Festival. Located at Frank Lloyd Wright designed Marin Civic Center lagoon, 250 fine artists inhabit white tents in a spectacular setting 15 minutes north of the Golden Gate Bridge. Flags flutter over airy art booths dotting the lush green lawn around dance and music stages. Costumed performers greet guests as they engage with artists. Merlin presents his own on-going performance art piece, Gopher Discovery, to the delight and amusement of all. This year's Marin Master Artist is our art friend Phyllis Thelen, who's imaginative sculpture of vessels, habitats, and creatures transform natural materials like bark into profound containers of journey, safety, and home. Phyllis was the main force behind the creation of Art Works Downtown, where Merlin greets visitors to the Pavlinac studio and cleans up after receptions. Cindy photographs artwork for artists and has documented Phyllis' work for over 10 years, featuring her voyage vessels in the Marin Arts Council's Artist Dialogue Magazine when she was Editor-in-Chief, in the last century. Phyllis is indeed a master artist, residing in the process, embracing the journey. Merlin appreciated her bark fish.
Stilted Steampunk birds wobbled along artist alleys as Merlin found shaded refuge with wild animal artist Marne Jaye. Her vibrant oil paintings are some of the most exciting work at any festival and Merlin treated his chauffeur to one of her new canteens. Look for us sipping from the electric turquoise, dark gold ribboned zebra water bottle. Merlin is enticed by the enchanting music of Aryeh Frankfurter’s nyckelharpa to plop down in the thick grass and settle in for a gentle recital in the sun. Celtic motifs flowed over and around us in a well-tempered aria of memory, myth, and magic.
We awoke to a gopher staring at us, daring Merlin to pounce. He followed its tunneling sounds to a herd of giant metal animals by the lagoon. On safari from Santa Fe, the kinetic steel sculptures of Fredrick Prescott form colorful creatures that nod in the breeze. Merlin's favorite? The cow!
Art stimulates, enriches, integrates, invigorates, entices, excites, energizes.
Art nourishes our soul, relaxes our minds, opens possibilities.
Art does indeed re-enchant the world.
Some of the best road trips are close to home. Merlin delights in finding old friends in new settings. And we all treasure visiting with our artist pals, basking in tender melodies, discovering new delights, sharing creative expression, traveling in our imaginations to wondrous locations, and finding COWS!