Back in 90 somethin or thereabouts my friend Betsy told me about the Paseo festival. I knew where it was because A. I had gone to beauty college at Pauls beauty College down there in the 80s and
B I used to go see my friend Alan when he worked at Medinas.
I didnt know much about it I had gone to the little bars that were various and sundry incarnations and a few parties at the apartments on the circle. I liked hanging out there. I imagined it was like Henry Millers life where painters and sculptors and writers and musicians and all sorts of people doing those art things or interested in those people doing those things would be like. Lots of conversations long into the night about EVERYTHING and nothing. It filled a niche for artists, a community of support.
The first Paseo Fest I went to they didnt have allot but if memory serves they were artists in those booths with paintings, pottery, drawings, jewelry, and all manners of creative expression. People just sitting around on folding chairs listening to music together or in little clusters someone playing a guitar and singing, maybe a troupe of actors dressed in costumes putting on a little skit, the belly dancers under the tent chachinging around and trying to get the audience to come up and dance. And the less talanted or maybe just taking the day off from it enjoyed the diversity of those performers just doing thier own thing entertaining all of us. And maybe you dropped a couple of bucks into a coffee tin for them while you sat and drank your beer and were glad for some shade. You walked around and enjoyed talking to the artists and enjoying the sense of freedom in that little enclave....
It has changed. Now the booths have quite a few people who I notice are not from Oklahoma. Don't get me wrong I believe in enterprise but I was really happy to toss my money back into Oklahomas art community. I miss that sense of solidarity. Not only that but its lost its sense of hippiness. If Paseo fest were a woman I'd say she has seemed to trade in her charming mismatched self with a tank top, long skirt and sandals for a Harolds linen dress and ballet flats.
Monday we were enjoying a young girl sitting in the grass with a ukalele playing and singing she was very entertaining. But then a Festival official came up and this is what happened...
Fest Lady: "You will have to stop playing."
Uke girl: "Why?"
Fest Lady: "You don't have a sticker and this is for the real artists to make money."
Really? The REAL artists? You mean the ones that started out just like her? Isn't that where this all came from?
It sure made me feel sad that what started out as a real festival , the minstrels and artists and misfits with heartmade wares and songs and pictures and stories are all about having a sticker, homegenized and cleaned up. Where "ART" is a space taken up with more and more plastic purses and bedazzled tshirts and less real life....