By Wade Hamilton
I stood on the corner of Old Main Street and 4th Ave W in Downtown Bradenton. The wind was whipping a misting rain on one of the rare wintery days we Floridians experience.
Just in case I forgot where I was, there was a hint of burning orange peels in the air from the Tropicana plant to remind me. Yet all I could think about was what this place would look, feel, and smell like in a few weeks.
In 2012, ArtSlam was relocated to celebrate the opening of one of “The Friendly City’s” greatest attractions, Bradenton’s brand new Riverwalk.
In 2013, Realize Bradenton announced that the fourth annual ArtSlam is coming back to Old Main Street. It is a celebration of the arts that will delight any and all of your senses on Saturday, March 8, noon-10 p.m.
Throughout the morning, the event will coexist with the Bradenton’s Farmers’ Market and then transition into a full on sensory explosion featuring over twenty artistic teams and ten musical performances.
According to Realize Bradenton’s executive director, Johnette Isham, this family-friendly festival features multiple teams of artists offering interactive creative projects, a variety of local bands, random acts of art, video art, and even an eco-friendly labyrinth. Isham says the festival is largely interactive with plenty of opportunities for audiences to become part of the creative process.
Isham explains that ArtSlam installations will be created “live” along Old Main Street. “Because there is no set theme, collaborative teams will creatively use existing streetscape sites while engaging the general public in brief contemporary art experiences,” she says.
The Bradenton Downtown Development Authority, Sarasota Magazine, BMO Harris Bank and the Woman’s Exchange, Inc. are sponsoring ArtSlam 2014. They are both great supporters of events like this, because of their interest in local arts and culture.
ArtSlam will extend past Old Main Street to include the Manatee Performing Arts Center, ArtCenter Manatee, Village of the Arts, the Da Vinci Machines exhibit, and South Florida Museum. Isham explains that free trolleys with downtown ambassador tour guides will circulate between these cultural organizations and Old Main Street creating “an informative and fun mobile experience.” Free pedicabs will also be available to extend the mobile experience.
All of these great places provide space for artist interpretation and inspiration. The artist teams have taken the proverbial ball and run with it. There will be an outdoor art gallery presented by TheVillageMagazine.net which will bring artists from around the region into a traditional gallery that will occupy a non-traditional space, “The Brickyard” behind O’Bricks Irish Pub and Martini Bar. There will also be interactive exhibits like “Get Your Hands Dirty” with Denise Kowal (Sarasota Chalk Festival), “Spin Art” with Caui Lofgren (IMG Academy), and a once-in-a-lifetime experience to hand paint a Cadillac supplied by Tropical Cadillac. There will even be an “Edible Mosaic Mural” from the chefs and students at MTI Culinary School.
In addition to the daytime activities and other art installations, there will be another set of visually stimulating nighttime presentations. One of which is the “Experimental Video Projection” team from Ringling College of Art and Design, led by Dee Hood. You can expect to see a few live performances on and off of Old Main Street. The Fuzion Dance team will wow you with one of their contemporary performances, and you can take the trolley down to the Manatee Performing Arts Center to see one of the “Dramature” improv sessions throughout the day.
The free trolley and pedicabs will be running from Old Main Street to all of the off-site cultural partners during the event to see these innovative projects:
-“Plastics Unwrapped” – a three dimensional vignette using upcycled materials – on the west lawn of the South Florida Musuem
-“Puppet Power Project” – with interactive puppet making stations and a Puppet Procession – in the Village of the Arts
-The American Watercolor Society’s 146th Traveling Exhibition at ArtCenter Manatee
-The previously mentioned “Dramature” performances by Manatee Players.
On the corner of Old Main Street and 4th Ave West will be the main music stage featuring musical acts like Kristopher James, Michael Miller of The Heart Machine, Jun Bustamante, The Northwest, Seven Years Past, and The Wallies. There will also be other local acts playing and performing throughout the day along the event site.
It is yet another free event organized by Realize Bradenton, and all are welcome! Bring your kids to introduce them to local and regional culture, bring your friends from out of town and show off what Bradenton has to offer. But most of all, bring yourself. You deserve a good time in a great community where art brings all your senses to life.
About Realize Bradenton
Realize Bradenton is a non-profit organization that builds community and promotes economic development through collaborative events, partnerships, and interactive strategies. We help make downtown Bradenton one of the best riverfront communities in the country. For more information, visit:www.RealizeBradenton.com.