There are non-football-related events in South Florida this week, believe it or not. For those of us in Florida who are not already participating in the weekend-long tailgate prior to this Monday’s Orange Bowl (I’m on the Catholic bandwagon, btw – Go Notre Dame), a popular attraction is the Las Olas Art Fair.
Taking place on the historical boulevard of “Las Olas” (thus the name Las Olas Art Fair), this stretch of street is one my favorite strips that I’ve discovered in the South Florida area so far. It’s a couple miles west of the Ft. Lauderdale beach and boasts a wide variety of unique shops, bars, galleries, and restaurants. The further west you go, the more “night-life-ish” it gets, with places like Vibe, American Social, and Yolo. (Yes, there is actually a place called Yolo…) The art fair takes place right in the middle of the “unique shops, bars, galleries, and restaurants” section.
I decided to check the fair out early Saturday afternoon via bike ride. It wasn’t too hot out, so the 9 mile ride was actually pretty easy and pleasant. Bonus – When there’s as much traffic as there is this weekend, there’s a good chance that you can actually bike to your destination faster than you can drive and find parking. I experienced this yesterday, silently making fun of the poor souls sitting in their cars as I blew past them in the bike lane. Suckas!!!
So, what’s the deal with the Art Fair? Eh. It was okay. Fun thing to check out, but, overall, I was impressed with the amount of mediocre cheesy-ness on display. No offense to any of the “artists” displaying and selling their wares, but, seriously? There was an overwhelming amount a lot of cliche, uninspired, and un-impressive pieces, the sort of stuff you would expect to see on the walls of budget motels and resorts.
Of course, it is easier to criticize than applaud, so this would be a pretty lame post if I didn’t mention a couple artists that actually did stand out to me. The first is R.L. Alexander. He has a very incomplete website that you can check out here: http://www.artbyalexander.com/index.html but, honestly, this doesn’t do justice to his work. It’s fun and witty, like a well-crafted riddle or joke in the form of a little painting. Unfortunately, I didn’t see him in the booth when I stopped by, but his business card says “artist and practicing troublemaker” so I can only assume that the artist is an interesting person who I wish I could have met.
The same is true for Donna Gordon. She had a booth full of interesting and thought provoking sculptures, but she herself was nowhere to be found. You can check out her work at http://donnagordongallery.com/donnagordonstudio_current.html There are a couple outstanding pieces, one of my favorites is the “Puzzle”.
I do need to take a moment to call out one extra annoying artist. That is this guy named Keith Bradley had a bunch of sculptures made mostly out of horseshoes and other similar pieces of metal. Kinda normal, right? Yes, except for the part that his ENTIRE exhibit was surrounded by “No Pictures” signs. Really, guy? You’re going to participate in an outdoor, free, public art fair, and tell people not to take pictures of your work? Fine, I thought it was ugly anyway. Here’s an example, pulled from the fair’s facebook page:
Bottom line, here a few “take-aways”:
1. Hey artists! I know you might like making art more than meeting people, but introduce yourself to people who are obviously interested in your work! Talking to you, Alexander and Donna.
2. Hey Artists, part two! Don’t be the douchebag that tries to act like your art is so special normal people shouldn’t take pictures of it. This is supremely lame, and not in the spirit of an open-air art fair. Get real.
3. Hey Florida people! The Las Olas Art Fair is a fun event that I recommend checking out, mostly for the good vibe, partially for some good art, and partially for giving you a chance to criticize all the not-so-good stuff 😉 Or, if bright, cliche, beach scenes are your thing, you might find just the thing your living room was lacking…