Festival presents subpar art pieces

The Chastain Park Arts Festival was starting to wind down when I arrived just after 4 p.m. on Saturday, Nov. 6. The few signs posted didn’t provide any detailed directions or directional arrows. Better signage would have been nice, but I arrived in a reasonably good mood, ready for art.

And what art there was. All of the tents were still open for business and the little sprawl of culture covered every physical medium you could imagine. There were ceramics, metal sculpture, jewelry, embroidery, knitted goods, woodcrafts, glass work, pottery and every variation of painting and photography known to man. One booth was selling music CDs, but everything else was physical media.

The quality of the art varied wildly. There were a couple pieces that I would have liked to own myself, finances permitting, while others looked like grade-school art projects gone horribly wrong.

Most of the offerings fell into a void of mediocrity, however. The pieces were pleasant to look at while passing by, but not striking enough to claim a permanent space in your head or on the wall of your living room. Other pieces were great fun at the festival, but hard to imagine bringing home, like the industrial metal sculptures.

While browsing the tents, I kept an eye out for potential Christmas gifts, though it quickly became apparent that the wares were not priced with student budgets in mind.

You could find a few trinkets and a couple prints were under $20, but most of them were the sort of items that would fetch confused expressions followed by forced smiles after the wrapping paper came off. Food and drinks were slightly more reasonable, but by no means cheap.

You could not ask for a more appropriate fall backdrop for a festival than Chastain Memorial Parkway. A brown sea of fallen leaves surrounded the tree-lined path, with chill air that was still fresh with the moisture of yesterday’s rain.

But beyond taking in the environment and gazing at the tents, there was very little to do. The festival lacked the volume and energy of the larger Inman Park Festival.

Maybe I arrived too late in the day, but as far as I could tell, the live acoustic entertainment consisted of one artist playing a wooden panpipe flute with CD accompaniment.

There was face painting, slingshot swings, inflatable castles for the kids but decidedly less entertainment options for adults. It was a soothing experience, even if it approached the border of boredom at times.

As I paced the sprawl and took notes, I struck up a conversation with a few of the artists. It was interesting to learn how pieces were created or what they were inspired by.

This is really the heart of what a small arts festival has to offer: an opportunity to engage artists as much as their art. Keep an eye out for the Chastain Park Art Festival when it comes around again next year.

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