Signs displayed throughout the park will speak volumes about the event, not so much because of the messages they convey but because of the way the signs themselves are constructed. This Saturday during the second annual We Art the People folk art festival, Robinson Park might be the only place in the entire city where you won't find a single generic prefabricated plastic banner anywhere.
"The signs for all our sponsors are crafted by hand," says Janis Timm-Bottos, executive director of the Offcenter Community Art Project, one of the festival's main organizers. "That's one of the rules of the festival. Visually, it just creates a very beautiful scene—very colorful and earthy."
We Art the People is a DIY festival designed to celebrate community and collaboration. It was a huge success last year, and organizers are hoping it will be even better this time around.
The plan for this second annual event includes samba drummers and dancers, street theater, storytelling, all kinds of music, plenty of hands-on demonstrations of visual and performing arts, a paint-by-numbers art competition, and 100 vendors selling and promoting folk art. Most important of all, there will also be a large-scale puppet parade.
In a way, though, the plan for the event is almost irrelevant. Unlike other art festivals, We Art the People encourages visitors to become participants. In other words, don't just sit around gawking at all the creativity. Jump in and get creative yourself. Get your hands dirty. Get some paint on your britches. Make a mess. This is one of those rare situations where no one is going to mind.
This year, the festival happily coincides with the 2005 National Poetry Slam competition. This means several hotshot visiting performance poets are expected to take part in the festivities.
As an added bonus, Steve White, whose wildly popular Yardfest was the primary inspiration for We Art the People, recently moved back to Albuquerque from the deepest, darkest reaches of the South. He'll be on hand to raffle off a bunch of sweet folk art items, including, he tells me, a banjo skin autographed by banjo god Earl Scruggs. How cool is that?
"We're also going to have a very funky fashion show," says Timm-Bottos. "And Elijah Mirochnik, an artist from Washington, D.C., is going to erect his Plastic Fantastic civic sculpture. It's made from inflatable tubing, and it's participatory. People can write on it and manipulate it."
Monroe's, Wrap It Up and possibly Java Joe's will be providing grub to fuel the festivities. Bring the kids. Bring yourself. It should be a hoot.