By Margie M. Palmer
ArtWalk ups the artistic ante
The 32nd annual Mission Federal ArtWalk will return to Little Italy at the end of this month. Every year, new artistic visions expand the borders of art for attendees and this year, dance and paint mediums will merge to offer art lovers something different to wrap their minds around as the art itself takes shape in front of them.
Long recognized as San Diego’s premier arts and cultural event, the weekend-long festival will showcase more than 350 local, national and international artists and is expected to attract more than 100,000 art aficionados and visitors.
In addition to showcasing paintings, sculptures, glass work, photography and fine jewelry, the free, family-friendly event will also include live musical performances, street food, interactive art activities and Kids Walk, which will offer a wide range of creative projects for young, aspiring artists.
ArtWalk San Diego’s managing director, Sandi Cottrell, said that each year, they strive to produce a festival that encompasses all areas of the arts.
“We want to bring a full interactive experience to the attendees who come out to Mission Federal ArtWalk,” Cottrell said. “We work closely with our sponsors, featured artists and entertainment to bring a spectacular art experience to San Diego for art lovers, families, visitors and San Diegans alike.”
Among this year’s featured artists is San Diego native Sarah Stieber.
For this year’s ArtWalk, Stieber — who graduated cum laude from Boston University with a degree in fine arts and a concentration in psychology — will be showcasing a painting performance with the help of dancers from The PGK Dance Project. The PGK Dance Project is a Downtown-based “world-class” contemporary dance company, which was founded in 1994 by Artistic Executive Director Peter G. Kalivas. Launching originally in Munich, Germany, and New York City, the nonprofit troupe moved to San Diego in 2002.
PGK’s participating dancers will be colored and dripped in paint to represent a one-of-a-kind “raining” effect, to present Stieber’s Electric Rain Project.
“My whole concept [for the Electric Rain Project] was that I wanted it to be this evolving collaborative series,” Stieber said. “It started with a photo shoot which I then turned into a painting, then we went back to the photo shoot and a production company filmed the time lapse.”
There was also a video installation show held recently at Adelman Fine Art — located just steps from ArtWalk on Kettner Boulevard — where some attending artists dressed up like the paintings and walked around as if they’d just emerged from the canvas.
As a result of already being familiar with Stieber’s local work involving the series, Stieber said it was Cottrell who suggested the possibility of adding a dance component.
“Sandi asked me about a performance piece in relation to the Electric Rain Project and I thought it would be awesome to get a dance company involved because adding dance would be a continuation of this project,” she said. “I knew it would be a great way to move the project along and see how far along we could take it.”
Cottrell then connected Stieber with PGK Dance founder Peter G. Kalivas and the rest, as they say, was history.
Those who attend the upcoming performance at ArtWalk can expect to see the Electric Rain Project in a way that it’s never been seen before.
“I wanted to create this evolving series because I wanted to get people thinking about creating their own environment; I wanted to get people interested in creating their own reality,” Stieber said. “I’m excited to take the next step in this collaboration with Peter and to see him put his spin on what we’ve created.”
Kalivas said the project reminded him of one he had been involved in 20 years ago, which also involved dancers who dipped their hands into “buckets of paint” and then spontaneously shared that paint with the dancers they were paired with.
“Although, it seems Sarah’s ‘Rain Project’ is more planned out with a hope for a more specific result I still think the idea is really exciting and has similar implications,” Kalivas said, “In that I create a dance, my dancers move and at some point parts of the dance inevitably need to slow down so that Sarah — who has to insert herself within the dance — begins to paint the moving bodies and ultimately change the appearance of the dancer, the perspective, and the quality, through shifts in appearance, color, texture as well.
“I like how this project creates a dependency on each medium intrinsically because of how Sarah’s concept plays out,” he continued. “The best part is that the audience witnesses the entire process as performance, which creates a new and interesting kind of tension and anticipation altogether.”
The performance will take place at the Grape Street Dance on the Edge Stage, at 3:30 p.m. on both days of the two-day festival.
Those who are interested in seeing more of Stieber’s work can drop by the Adelman Fine Art booth, which will be located at spaces 715 and 717.
Mission Federal ArtWalk will take over 17 blocks on India Street between Ash and Grape streets in San Diego’s Little Italy neighborhood. The free, outdoor event will run from 11 a.m. – 6 p.m. Saturday, April 30 and Sunday, May 1. More information is available online at artwalksandiego.org.
—Margie M. Palmer is a San Diego-based freelance writer who has been racking up bylines in a myriad of news publications for the past 10 years. You can write to her at email@example.com.