Mitch Cohen of the Printing & Bookarts Center in Rochester sets up a station that allowed attendees to make postcard prints for free. Photo by Julia Sklar.

Local art vendors and performers united this past weekend to host the 55th annual Clothesline Festival on the lawn of the Memorial Art Gallery. It featured over 500 local vendors’ original artwork, food and live musical performances.

A wide array of local vendors were in attendance, from a company that makes handbags out of old ties, to a stand that sold seven-foot-tall ceramic decorative flowers, to the Hajim School’s table of engineering art; there was something to suit even the most unusual of tastes. There were, of course, many conventional vendors, selling more standard art such as prints, pottery, photography and jewelry.

One of the more unique vendors, however, was gourd artist Joseph Blair, who has participated in the Clothesline Festival for the past eight years. Blair travels to Casa Grande, Arizona where he deliberately hand picks  each gourd, which he then turns into art by hollowing and painting it, thereby turning it into a usable object.

His stand featured a mix of items such as potpourri dishes, vases and bowls all made entirely from gourd skin. He and his wife also make jewelry, take photographs and illustrate. As a seasoned veteran of the Clothesline Festival, Blair was particularly pleased with the turnout this year.

“There seems to be a lot more people here, and the weather is definitely nicer than any other year,” he said.

However, his favorite part of this year’s festival was not the fortunate weather.

“It’s fun talking to people. I’m a retired school teacher, so all I do is run my yap all the time,” he said.

Artist Tim See, who was selling handmade ceramic works, also enjoyed interacting with people at the festival.

“Everyone, staff and crowd included, is always friendly,” See said.

The atmosphere certainly was a friendly one. However, the festival seemed to target an older age group in terms of the art being sold. Not many college students can find a good use for a $650 papier-mâché sculpture. There were certainly more affordable and practical vendors featured, but they were fewer and farther between.

Junior Nick Marinelli attended the festival and noticed a lack of fellow student attendees.

“They have a wide variety of stuff to sell, but it’s marketed toward an older age bracket,” Marinelli said. “There is still a lot of cool stuff, though. I’d say a young person with a taste in older things would really enjoy this.”

Admission to the festival was modestly priced at $5, which included admission to the museum. Although most students probably wouldn’t be able to splurge on that papier-mâché sculpture, admission is affordable and many of the attractions are free.

Live performances were featured continuously for both days of the festival, and they ranged from several local bands, such as The Lonely Ones, to numerous dance performances, including Bollywood Dance Mania and Tribal Goddess Collective. The motivation to schedule performances from as many cultures as possible was obvious and appreciated.

Unfortunately, food was relatively overpriced — as it is at most festivals — but where else can you get delicious heart -attack-inducing deep fried funnel cakes? Tex-Mex, Simply Crepes and Hal’s Kountry Kettle Korn (which was delicious), in addition to several other popular local food vendors, were also featured. Again, the festival’s adamant effort to provide something for everyone really showed.

Overall, the Clothesline Festival was an excellent excuse to get off-campus and to be immersed in the art and culture of Rochester (the actual city, not our campus bubble).Although you may not be able to buy much, interacting with the vendors and learning about their crafts is a very rewarding experience. This festival ensured a good time for anyone with an appreciation for the arts, friendly interaction and deliciously greasy food.

Kullman is a member of the class of 2014.



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