A caravan of teenage students and chaperons approached the parking lot, where a bounty of vehicles awaited the festivities. One vehicle that soon caught my attention was a white U-haul like truck with exotic birds of blues, purples, and reds painted all over it. We were directed to a parking space by a redheaded teenage boy wearing a lime-green safety vest and wildly waving his matching baton.
I was apprehensive to see this festival of art. A couple weeks ago, when Mr. Dickson brought it up, and I had no clue what this Kentuck Festival of the Arts was. Is it art from Kentucky? If so, why didn’t they call it the Kentucky Festival of Arts? As we stood waiting for the gates to open, I was welcomed by the smell of cinnamon, the crispy fall air, and the morning sun warming the back of my legs. I could not sit here and bask in the sun though; I had a mission at hand. This mission was to find the artists I had chosen and to interview them.
Once we entered this new world, each with the same mission, I set out with shaky legs to complete the task at hand. As I walked around admiring the works of these various artists, I soon found one man on my list. As I approached the target, I looked up to the sheet with his name and description of his art to verify I was at the right booth. The paper sign said he was a “Leather Artisan.” What an exotic title! I was curious to see his work, because my father does leather work as well.
As I stood there, looking around, a woman in her early sixties was asking this leather artisan about the price on a purse he had out on the shelf. After a very brief second of consideration, I strolled away. Any proud daughter could not possibly believe that anyone on Earth could do better work than her own father.
I slowly walked along the poorly paved road until I came to booth D-21. When I approached it, I took in the hippy/surfer looking guy standing there, talking to an older man. According to the sheet hanging on his booth, this hippy went by the name of Shawn Bungo. Once the other man left, I took a moment longer to view Mr. Bungo’s work. He stood there talking to a woman that I assumed was his wife. I waited until he stopped talking and then asked him if I could ask a few questions about his work. Not really the most professional way of approaching I realize, but as inexperienced as I was in interviewing people, it was the best way I could think of..
Bungo was a genuinely nice guy, had the widest smile you could possibly imagine, and simply said, “Sure! What’s up?” He went on to tell me how he used to sell conch necklaces on the beach.
“One Christmas, about ten years ago, my wife got me one of those glass-burning torches and I’ve been doing it ever since.”
When I asked him what actually got him interested in the field of glass and how he learned to do such intricate work, he laughed and told me it was through “getting a bunch of cuts and burns, and just playing around with it really.”
As I tried to wrap up the interview, I asked him how long he had been participating in Kentuck. He and his wife told me they had been coming together for the past five years and that they have enjoyed it each year. I had to laugh at this because it seems nearly impossible not to enjoy the festival. Yes, it can get a little crowded but in my opinion it is totally worth it! To be able to walk around and view art from all over the US is truly a wonderful experience.
I thanked Mr. Bungo for his time and complimented his work, then set off for my next interview. As I walked around the winding path, I found the source of the cinnamon smell: a booth selling cinnamon-roasted nuts. As much as I wanted to stop and eat every last morsel of the delicious smelling food, I kept walking. I made my way through the hoards of people to a rather pale woman with bright pink hair. I looked at her sheet to confirm that this was indeed Amy Bridewell.
Bridewell had her crystal jewelry displayed by color and style. Before I could even ask any questions, she began talking to me about her work and the process, which she and her husband discovered while they were in college. She learned to mix earth elements and melt them in a kiln. She then makes the silver chains and casings for the crystals and voila!— it’s done.
After I talked to Amy Bridewell, I circled back and was just looking around when booth C-04 caught my eye. I took in the mixture of darkness and inspiration. Canvases with old-looking pictures, but warped somehow. Ghost-like hands on solid bodies. A child with a rabbit’s head. It wasn’t disturbing—instead, It was intriguing!
Beth Conklin‘s work held my attention, and I wanted to stay there and admire it for hours. She told me how her mother would walk in while she was in the process of working on her art, stop and look at it, and then simply say, “Hhmmmm,” Beth mimicked. Then she laughed and explained, “That’s it, that’s all she would ever say about it.”
So you see, art isn’t about how detailed, original, different, or special it is. Art is truly about who the artist is on the inside and expressing it in any way he or she sees fit. As I was walking around viewing more work at the festival, I thought about the artists that were there and how they might feel about people viewing their works. I wondered why they came all over the US to show their art, and I realized that it probably doesn’t matter. The part that matters is: there are inspiring people all over the world who express themselves in a creative ways and are proud of it. I may not be very artsy myself, but I have a large imagination and I can do anything I set my mind to— even if it means stepping out of my comfort zone.