This year’s Bayou City Art Festival Downtown has over three hundred artists.
by Karen Derr
The Bayou City Art Festival Downtown, held October 12–13 this year, features native Houstonian artist Syd Moen and her “Little Planets” series. The photographic works are created by altering a panoramic photo to produce a round image. The creative and unique “little planets” are otherworldly yet familiar, especially to Houstonians and those who are acquainted with the Texas Gulf Coast. Moen’s works invite the viewer into a whole world she creates from a single location. They are alluring, whether one recognizes the landmarks or not. Moen was chosen along with artists from all over the U.S. and is among the three hundred who will be at the two-day show and festival at downtown’s Sam Houston Park.
“To be chosen as this year’s featured artist is an absolute honor,” Moen says. “Photography is the core resource for my explorations of self-expression, and I’m very excited to be able to share this with the patrons of Bayou City Art Festival Downtown as this fall’s featured artist.”
Just as Moen’s works of art engage the viewer to interact in her created worlds, the Bayou City Art Festival offers a unique experience where festivalgoers interact with over three hundred artists who are required to be present and available in their respective booths for the entire show. Bayou City Art Festival board member Joseph K. Plumbar says his first involvement with the festival was as a collector. “I fall in love with a new artist at every festival,” Plumbar says. “Last year I fell in love with Linda Lesperance. I haven’t talked with her recently. You see, talk about personal—we’re friends now!” Having participated in the artist-selection jury, he says over a thousand artists apply from all over the world, but only 330 are chosen each year.
Bayou City Art Festival accepts work in eighteen disciplines: clay, digital (not photography), drawing (pastels, ink, pencils), fiber and textiles (decorative), functional art (includes furniture, wearable art, etc.), glass, jewelry, leather, metal, mixed media 2-D (minimum of two media used to create), mixed media 3-D, paintings (acrylic, oil, or watercolor), photography (digitial or computer manipulated), photography (traditional film, no machine enhancements), printmaking, sculpture/3-D (one media—stone, clay, glass, metal, or wood), and wood. The organization’s executive director Kelly Kindred says, “Houston is not only a melting pot of various cultures, but also has incredible art media, and Bayou City Art Festival takes pride in celebrating its local artists and art forms, as well as those from across the country. We are honored to present one of our city’s own, Syd Moen, as this year’s featured artist.”
This year, board member Plumbar also serves on the Art Heist committee. He explains this Saturday evening ticketed event: “It’s always a theme party, and this year it’s ‘Treasures of the New World.’”
The event, held on the steps of City Hall, is the largest fundraising element of the festival. “Treasures of the New World” features heavy hors d’oeuvres from Melange Catering, refreshing libations, a DJ, and the “heist,” which provides patrons with the chance to “steal” donated art pieces. “Vic Lee was the featured artist the year of my first Art Heist, and he was the most fought over. I actually ended up winning his piece!” recalls Plumbar, who says the event makes for a very exciting evening. Each $100 ticketholder has a one-in-four chance of “stealing” a work of art which has been donated by participating artists and valued well above the ticket price. This year, attendees are encouraged to wear pirate attire in keeping with the “Treasures of the New World” theme.
Plumbar says, “This year’s festival will be larger than ever. The main stage has been expanded, and we’ll have more bands from both Austin and Houston. We’re still the fine-arts festival, but we’re going to have more emphasis on the festival theme.” The revamped music lineup includes the Suffers, Kashmere Reunion Stage Band, Bombon, Hardproof Afrobeat, and many more. To add to the festival atmosphere, there will be activities for children in the Green Mountain Energy Creative Zone, special areas for adults, including a wine garden and an Adult Creative Zone presented by The Tinderbox. New to the festival this year, the Adult Creative Zone offers adults the chance to create their own works of art, including an industrial lamp or a screen-printed tote. And, of course, it would not be a festival without dozens of food and beverage vendors.
Bayou City Art Festival is a nonprofit organization that provides financial support to its nonprofit partners, and 100 percent of proceeds from festival tickets and food and beverage sales are given to them. Bayou City Art Festival has partnered with fifteen local nonprofit organizations, which volunteer their time to help staff the festival. These organizations include The Orange Show, Lawndale Art Center, SNAP, and the Museum of Fine Arts Houston.
The festival attracts at least 30,000 art patrons each year and has raised more than $3 million since it began more than forty years ago. Sunshine magazine ranks the art festival as one of the top ten in the nation.
What: Bayou City Art Festival Downtown
When: October 12–13
Where: Sam Houston Park, 1000 Bagby
Tickets: Free for children age two and younger; non-members may purchase tickets online or at festival entrances ($15 for adults and $3 for children ages 3–12)
Karen Derr is a Houston-area Realtor and the founder of Boulevard Realty. She writes and speaks about home and small-business topics.