Annual Clothesline Festival enthralls with eccentric vendors

Photo courtesy of Robin Wang — Staff Photographer

The Memorial Art Gallery (MAG)’s annual Clothesline Festival is one of the longest running art festivals in Western New York. It features artists and vendors from all over the state, from the local Sticky Lips BBQ to sculptors hawking statues of honey badgers and tapirs holding bowls. This eclectic group of people comes together every year to celebrate the MAG and local artists, and to generally appreciate the world of fine arts. This year was no exception to this rule, with intriguing artists and beautiful creations lining the lawn of the MAG, keeping festival-goers enthralled.

Despite the rainy weekend, the Clothesline Festival had a decent turnout of the most persevering fans. These dedicated art patrons, donning ponchos and eccentric rain boots, braved the inclement weather to enjoy the food, art and entertainment.

Experienced festival-goers knew to start from the back of the rows of tents at the Museum Shop so they could scout out T-shirts from last year’s festival for only $2. Others were tempted by the wafting, delicious smell of garlic from Artichoke French, a local restaurant’s, booth.

Other tents contained everything from an artist who only sold salad bowls, to mugs with fantastic handlebar mustaches to The Wizard of Clay Pottery. Many artists had a more green initiative, creating works of art from recycled material. One vendor made lawn ornaments out of recycled spoons and forks while another created jewelry from recycled circuit boards. The story behind the art often made a beautiful piece that much more intriguing — after all, the art might be beautiful, but the reason behind it is interesting.

At first glance, the festival looked relatively impressive, but not overly large. After turning the corner after the first row of tents, however, it was apparent how wrong that first impression was. The vendor’s tents spanned for what looked like miles across the art gallery’s grounds, filled with artists eager to talk about their work. Some vendors were more subdued than others, sitting back and working on their crafts while people browsed their tents. Others stood front and center in their stalls, telling patrons stories about their work.

The vendors themselves were, in a sense, just as much art as the pieces they created. The owner of Jon John’s bakery, wearing a beaded necklace covered with sparkles and a pink shirt, served customers with a flare and style that anyone would be able to tell was uniquely his.

Some artists had long, curly beards while others wore monocles and walked around the event barefoot. One woman wore a hat so big that every time the wind picked up, it looked as if she was going to fly away. Everyone had their own sense of style and seeing where the art they produced came from made it that much more compelling.

Though many of the pieces for sale were outside a typical student’s budget, it was still possible to appreciate the art from afar, but also visit the tents of vendors whose work was more affordable. This didn’t deter  all the attendees with less disposable income from enjoying the event — some day when these students have the income and space for such beauty, perhaps some will finally be able to buy that mustache-marked mug.

This year’s Clothesline Festival manged to create an event for everyone, young and old, artistic and not, to enjoy and have a good time supporting local and often eccentric, artists.

Sokol is a member of the class of 2013.



You can contact Drue at dsokol@u.rochester.edu.

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