By Steven Robert Allen
For years, one of the most enjoyable and least pretentious arts events in town was Steve White's Yardfest, held yearly in the front yard of White's former Folk Farm on Louisiana just south of Central. A bunch of fantastic artists mixed with a bunch of rockin' live bands along with the infamous Hillbilly Biathalon (seed spitting and pie eating) made for quite an event, let me tell you.
Unfortunately, White somehow got it into his head to skip out of Albuquerque for the greener—but not necessarily more hospitable—pastures of Athens, Ga. Bummer!
For a while, it seemed like the end of an era. White's Yardfest was the kind of homemade, do-it-yourself art event that made the term outsider art mean something. It was a very welcome alternative to the traditional gallery scene. Artists selling their work at Yardfest didn't have to pay a fee to participate, and they got to keep all the proceeds from their sales. It was a sweet deal all around that emphasized community and mutual support over the profit mongering that epitomizes the mainstream art world.
It would have been a shame to see the spirit of this friendly, down-home event die. Thankfully, the seeds had been planted, and others were ready, able and willing to make sure they bore fruit.
Since White's departure, other artists involved in the original event have stepped up to the plate to continue the tradition. Last summer, Corky Frausto initiated his South Valley Corkfest, modeled along the same lines as White's event. He'll be hosting it again this October.
This weekend, Kenny Chavez will host Yardfest 2005 in his backyard at 4312 Ridgeley NE, near the corner of Washington and Central. He'll be assisted by artist Jeff Sipe and White himself.
Yes, there will be watermelon seed spitting and pie gobbling. Yes, there will also be music from the likes of Los Viejos con Sus Amigos, the Tom Bodine Trio, Daddy Long Loin and Alpha Blue.
Primarily, though, it's a day filled with great art at very reasonable prices. White will be returning to Albuquerque for the occasion. The ever-popular Lasters will be rolling into town from Kentucky in their folk mobile. The Offcenter Community Art Project will have a table. There'll also be a ton of great art from some of your favorites, folks like Sipe, Goldie Garcia, Frausto, Clay Sheff, Ron Rodriguez, Marion Bresnihan, Ronnie Chavez, Faith and Drew Gelvin, Tami Sioux, Rockin' Robinson, Steve Lee, Michelle Montoya and Chavez himself.
Leo Neufeld will be doing portrait drawings all day. There'll also be a chopped bicycle parade. Of course, one of the best aspects of the whole event is the Grade-A people-watching, which'll be going on all day long.
Slip into your overalls, slop on a thick layer of sunscreen and come on down. It's going to be a good time.
Yardfest 2005, a full day of folk art and live music, will occur this Saturday, May 21, from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. in Kenny Chavez' backyard (4312 Ridgeley NE). This is a free event. 232-7707.
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